Air Chief Marshal Sir Patrick “Paddy” Bardon Hine
Air Chief Marshal Sir Patrick “Paddy” Bardon Hine, GCB, GBE (born 14 July 1932) was born near Southampton, England and was educated at Peter Symonds School in Winchester. He was a gifted amateur golfer, entering the national golfing scene in spectacular fashion in 1949 aged 17 winning the Hampshire County Championship, the Carris Trophy (open to Boy Amateur Golfers of all nations) and the Brabazon Trophy (Men’s Open Amateur Championship).
Have a look at Paddy’s account of his early golfing experiences for a fascinating glimpse at Paddy’s rise through the golfing ranks.
Joining the RAF in 1950, initially as a National Serviceman, Paddy got his wings and flew Gloster Meteors and Hawker Hunters and from 1957 to 1959 he performed on the Black Arrows, then the RAF’s aerobatics display team. In 1962 he was appointed Officer Commanding No. 92 Squadron. Leaving his beloved flying duties, he was appointed Director of Public Relations for the RAF in 1975. He was made Senior Air Staff Officer at HQ RAF Germany in 1979 and Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Policy) at the Ministry of Defence in 1981. He became Commander of the Second Tactical Air Force and Commander-in-Chief of RAF Germany in 1983, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in 1985 and in late 1987 he was appointed Air Member for Supply and Organisation.
Paddy Hine has an outstanding golfing pedigree.
In 1949, at the age of 17 he won both the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy. Throughout his long and very successful RAF career, which saw him become Commander-In-Chief of Strike Command and act as joint commander of all British forces during the first Gulf War, he supported RAF golf with a passion. It should be pointed out that in 1952, one Pilot Officer P B Hine won the Scratch at the RAFGS’s Championship meeting and in 2014, a staggering 62 years later, Air Chief Marshal P B Hine won the RAFGS’s India Trophy. Sir Patrick was the Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, 2010-11.
Sir Paddy recalls his early golfing career….
I took up golf in 1945 shortly after the ending of WW2. My mother played a little and used to practice in the field behind our house. One summer’s evening, I ‘borrowed’ one of her clubs and began to hit the odd shot in the air sufficiently well to ask Mum to take me to the local municipal course for 9 holes. I completed them in under 50 and was hooked!
I became a full Member of Hockley Golf Club near Winchester in the Spring of 1946 (subscription was 4 guineas!) and I had a handicap of 11 by the time of my 14th birthday. I was very small for my age and could not hit the ball more than about 170 yards but I could chip and putt like a maestro and I was soon winning some of the Club’s major competitions. I also joined Royal Winchester (similar sub) and played a lot with my science master (Ted Tanner) until he died prematurely in 1950. He was a real character who threw clubs like confetti if he was playing badly.
By the end of 1947, I was down to 5 handicap and almost won the Club Championship, being beaten over 36 holes by 1 stroke. By this time, I was attending professional golf tournaments (sometimes playing truant) in which Henry Cotton, Dick Burton, Alf Padgham, Reggie Whitcombe (all pre-war Open Champions), Norman von Nida, Dai Rees and many other then Ryder Cup stars were playing. Dai Rees was my favourite and I used to follow virtually every hole that he played; in those days, one could walk up the fairway with the players and I soon got to know Dai well and offer my advice on what club he should take when playing to the green, much to the irritation of his caddie, Fred Nash! I was pretty good at it too!
In 1948, I played in the Carris Trophy at Moor Park, finishing 5th and being selected for the Boys Team against the Hazards Golfing Society. I later played in the Boys Championship at Barassie and was selected to play for England in the annual match against Scotland, halving my foursome and winning my singles. I lost in the Championship at the 20th hole in the last 8 to a huge Scot called John Stark, the match being billed in the press as a ‘David v Goliath encounter! I won the Hockley Club Championship and many club and local tournaments, and played for the County Juniors (Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands). By this time, I was playing off 3, my lack of length being the main limitation (I was only about 5ft 3in and 7 stone).
In the Spring of 1949 (aged17), I encountered one of life’s watersheds. I had written off, very cheekily, to apply for the post of professional at the Crohamhurst Golf Club in Surrey. My father opened the reply (in error) and read something like the following:
Dear Mr Hine (me),
Thank you so much for your application to become etc….We have most carefully considered your candidacy but believe that you are a little young and inexperienced for this post and thus regret that you have not been selected. However, we are confident that you will qualify for a similar position in due course and we wish you every success.
Yours sincerely (signed off by the Club Secretary)
As I had not consulted Dad beforehand, he naturally wished to know ‘what the hell was all this about?’ I told him that I had lost all interest in my school work (I was due to take Higher School Certificate that summer) and that all I wished to do was to become a golf professional. He then rushed off to see my Headmaster who said in essence that I had become totally obsessed by golf and that his masters were now wasting my time and (worse) I was wasting theirs! The Headmaster suggested that I should leave school at the end of term and play golf all through the year to see what progress I made and only then take a more measured decision on whether or not I should seek to become a professional.
Playing and practising every day, combined with at last some rapid growth, enabled me to come down from 3 to +2 within a 6 month period. In the process, I won the Carris Trophy by 8 shots, the County Championship, winning the final by 6&5, and the Brabazon Trophy at Stoneham by 8 shots (9 under par over the 72 holes). I played in the Boys International and the Boys Championship at St Andrews (the Old Course green fee was then 1s 9d as against £135 today) in the August, winning my foursomes with Roy Mason (Carl’s father) 1 up after a terrific struggle against Ronnie Nicol and John Stark (Goliath you may recall) and then walloping John 6&4 in the singles, being 5 under par for the 14 holes. Alas, in the Championship I was beaten 3&2 in the quarter finals by another English international, Ray Carter, who played out of his socks whilst I had my one poor round of the week. This was a major disappointment but I bounced back with 4 rounds in the 60s the following week at a big open meeting at Rowlands Castle.
Looking back, it is interesting to see that in each one of the 3 important championships that I won in 1949 I faced somewhat of a crisis early on but somehow recovered to get back into contention. In the Carris, when I was going steadily (level par) on the West Course in the morning, I suddenly had two 6s at the 15th and 16th but steadied the ship with two pars to finish on 76 (2 over). In the afternoon on the High, I played really well in a wind to finish in 72 (75 par in those days) and with a 4 at the last where I missed a short putt.
In the 36 holes qualifying rounds of the County Championship at Stoneham (only 8 to qualify), I started badly and it got worse; I had 6 3-putts in the first 12 holes and, in a rage, broke my hickory-shafted putter when banging it on the ground. I had to complete the round using a 2-iron as putter and finished in 82. I nipped home during the lunch break and collected my No 2 putter, a steel-shafted Ben Sayers. In the afternoon, I played and putted much better and shot 74, just qualifying for the match play stages as the 8th player. In the quarter final, I played against a chap called Barry Sinnott from Lee-on-Solent and we had a right ding-dong scrap arriving on the 16th tee all square. I finished 1 and 3 (holing a 30 ft downhill putt) against pars of 3 and 4 to beat him 2&1 – two real strokes of luck! Having won my semi-final easily by 5&4, I met the County Captain, Percy Watford, in the 36 hole final. After 18 holes, we were all square, but I had missed the green left on 4-5 holes and thus asked a close friend and scratch player at Hockley what I was doing wrong. He diagnosed an inside the correct line takeaway which left me a little closed at the top of the back swing, which I quite easily corrected. In the afternoon, I played really well and was 5 under 4s when I beat Percy 6&5. I thus became County Champion whilst still 16 years old.
In the Brabazon, also at Stoneham, in the October, I again started the first round badly, dropping a shot at the 3rd and 2 more at the 4th, but I managed to pull myself together and finished in a par 74. In the afternoon, I played near my very best and shot 70, which placed me 2nd one shot behind at the half way stage. For the last two rounds the following day, I played with the overnight leader, Walker Cup player Ian Caldwell who won the Carris Trophy the year before me. A 72 in the morning put me 1 shot ahead with a round to go, and a final round of 71, which included 4 birdies and 6 pars in the last 10 holes, against Ian’s 77, enabled me to run out an easy winner. My chipping and putting (my strong point) gradually wore Ian down, but it didn’t seem that easy at the time!
At about this time, a wise old member of Stoneham, called Fred Thatcher who was +4 at drinking, persuaded me that I was still too young to become a professional. He was MD of British American Tobacco’s Southampton site and he offered me a pupillage with a promise that I could play in all the important amateur golf tournaments. It was a 3 year course: one year of general training before undertaking national service and then 2 years of further training in a chosen specialist field.
I played well throughout 1950, although not well enough to win any national championships. However, I won all my County matches and picked up 6 course records in Hampshire alone. Then, on 30 October, I began my 2 years national service in the RAF. The Korean War had just started and a big expansion of the British armed forces had been initiated. Some national service men were being trained as pilots and navigators, and as I had always fancied myself as a Spitfire fighter pilot (having witnessed the Battle of Britain at first hand), I applied and was accepted for pilot training. Having got my ‘wings’ on Chipmunks and Harvards, I undertook to serve for 3 years with the ‘Auxiliaries’ following national service and was converted to Meteors at Driffield.
Having joined the RAF Golfing Society, I was given a week off from my Advanced Flying Course to compete in the RAF Championship at Walton Heath. I stayed with a friend who was a WH member, had a practice round on the Sunday, putted very badly, borrowed a hickory-shafted Nicoll Gem from him and set off to play in the 36 hole qualifying rounds before the leading 8 contested the Championship in match play. A pretty ‘rocky’ 79 on the Old was followed by a pretty good 72 on the New, and I qualified either 1st or 2nd – I simply cannot remember.
I played Cy Beamish in the quarter final and after a tremendous tussle, I holed a tricky 7 footer on the 18th to end all square. I holed another crucial putt on the 20th for a 4 and was through to the semi-final against Johnny Neal whom I thrashed 5&4, beginning in the process to play really well and to putt brilliantly with my new ‘acquisition’. So, to the 36 hole final between Sqn Ldr Jack Garden and Acting Pilot Officer on Probation Paddy Hine!
At the time, Jack was OC the St Andrews UAS, playing almost every day and a genuine scratch player with a very tight short game. He also had a form of the ‘twitch’; not on the greens but when taking the club back from the ball on any long shot. He would go back about 9 inches and then ‘stick’, sometimes for up to 20 seconds before he then completed an immaculate swing. It was quite off-putting as an opponent but one had to live with it.
Anyway, Jack and I had a truly wonderful match: we were both round the Old at WH in 72 shots in the morning and all square. Then after lunch, I went off like a train with 3 birdies and the rest pars over the first 8 holes to become 3 up, before he in turn had a flurry of birdies so that we stood on the 17th tee all square. I put my 6 iron 6 feet from the pin and holed the putt to become dormie 1. After two good straight drives up the middle, I hit a 5 iron into the middle of the green, whilst Jack thinned one which caught the very top of the big cross bunker and finished on the downslope on the far side just clear of the heather. Jack realised that he needed to hole his 40-50 yards chip and asked the self-appointed referee, Wg Cdr Robin Scott, to hold the pin. Jack played a beautiful pitch and run which was heading directly for the pin but going too fast; he screamed at Robin to take the pin out but he seemed to be transfixed and failed to remove it before the ball hit the pin, jumped about a foot in the air and disappeared back down into the hole. I simply could not believe what had happened; I had mentally pocketed the match for I lay no more than 20 ft from the hole and now was faced with holing this putt for the match. Needless to say, I missed it and off we went down the 37th. We halved the first two extra holes in pars and then both hit tremendous drives down the short par 4 3rd hole. Jack, who was longer than me, drove the green whilst I was 20 yards short. I chipped up within 7-8 feet, Jack putted dead and I missed. I had thus lost this epic and most thrilling encounter on the 39th hole!
Later that year, I won the RAFGS Championship at the Berkshire, having an unsatisfactory walkover in the 36 hole final as my opponent, Johnny Neal had to withdraw with a badly sprained ankle as a result of falling into a rabbit hole during his semi-final. Having won the Denys Fields Trophy as leading qualifier and played very well in the quarter and semi finals, this was very much an anti-climax.
I very much enjoyed playing in the Inter-Service Championships between 1952 and 57. Both the RAF and Army had very strong teams in those days with a number of very low handicap national service golfers of county or even international standard. The match I remember best was my single in 1952 against Lieutenant Bob Glading of the Fleet Air Arm, a New Zealander who had been a successful professional before WW2 but had then been reinstated as an amateur and won the Royal Navy Championship earlier that year. We had a match round Royal St Georges that I shall never forget, and which I lost 1 up having gone round in 70 in a stiff breeze. There was never more than one hole in it. Alas, Glading disappeared off the RN scene not long thereafter and it was 2010 before I met up with him again, when I was Captain of the R & A and playing at Royal Wellington in a big open tournament to mark the centenary of New Zealand Golf. As I came off the course after a most enjoyable round with Sir Bob Charles (winner of the 1963 Open at Royal Lytham St Annes), I noticed in big letters on the scoreboard that a Bob Glading had scored 80 gross (on a difficult and long golf course) at the age of 90. It was one and the same Bob Glading and we were able that evening to wallow in a bit of nostalgia, for he remembered our match 58 years earlier as well as I did.
There were some great characters playing for the RAF in the 1950s: Cecil Beamish, Jack Garden, John Niven, Kim Hall, Johnny Neal and ‘Willy’ Wills-Sandford, an irrascible survivor of a Japanese POW camp but a really redoubtable competitor who terrified his opponents. They were great days and the RAF won the Inter-Services quite a few times during that decade. I recall too playing and beating Michael Bonallack who was doing his national service in the Army.
In July 1952, I scored my lowest round ever – a 61 in the monthly medal at my beloved Hockley. I started well, went out in 29, then went slightly off the boil with 4 pars, but finished strongly to come home in 32. A few months later, I did a 63 at Stoneham. By this time, I was operational on my first squadron and having to work quite hard. Thereafter, there was less and less time for serious golf and I came to accept that golf had to be more a pleasant pastime than the obsession it had hitherto always been. However, I have never fallen out of love with the game, and never will. There is no other sport like it, and I got as big a thrill in November 2012 when I holed again in one – my eighth – at Palmares in Portugal as I did when I holed my first at Hockley way back in 1946!