FORMER Professional Golfers’ Association captain and Meyrick Park professional, John Stirling, has died at the age of 89.
John was born in Scotland and first picked up a golf club at the age of nine. He left school at the age of 13 and immediately went to the nearest golf course, which he helped to keep running during the war.
He practised hard and was handicap scratch by 16. Just over a year later, aged 17, he joined the RAF and after he was demobbed he joined a club on the outskirts of London, won a tournament and became an assistant professional with the Roehampton Club.
John went on to take the post of a senior professional at Woking and then applied to Meyrick Park to replace the golf professional, which 84 other people went for. He made the shortlist of the final five before being told that he would be the club’s next professional.
During his time at Meyrick Park, John qualified for the Open in 1959 and 1966 and won the Hampshire PGA Championship in 1964.
He also won the Bournemouth Alliance in 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1966, Hampshire Alliance in 1965 and 1970, the Hampshire Open in 1971 and the Hampshire PGA Senior Championship in 1978, as well as the Hampshire Open Senior Championship in the same year.
In October 1973, John appeared in the Daily Echo after being appointed as a director of the Professional Golfers’ Co-operative Association, now known as the PGA, which was considered a huge honour in the golfing world.
Two years later, Daily Echo reported that John’s wife, Betty, died at their home in Queen’s Park in December 1975. He went on to find happiness with second wife, Christine, who also took up golf to great success, by bringing home trophies for the cabinet including the Bournemouth Open in 1978 and the Dorset Ladies’ Championship in 1980. Christine was also the runner-up in the English Ladies’ Public Course Championships in 1980.
In August 1982, John left Meyrick Park to take up a post with Meon Valley Golf and Country Club, in addition to his involvement as a English Golf Union Coach for the south west and a senior instructor with the Professional Golfers’ Association.
He took up the vice-captain role of the PGA in March 1988 before taking the top title the following year.