How a golfer achieved fame without knowing. A miracle of nature.

Legend of the Golden Putter of St Andrews . . . by Peter Stephens The angry storm clouds gathered strength over the remote Monadhlaith mountain range before deciding vindictively to escape from The Highlands and head South East to the coast. In their path below lay some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery and ahead lay the North Sea which probed relentlessly Britain’s shores. The air was heavy and charged with energy. Miles away Jack Walker and his friend Glen Ferguson were enjoying their weekly 18 holes of golf (as they had done for the past 10 years) on one of the historic links courses at St Andrews, birthplace of the game. However, they were just beginning to wonder whether they would have time to complete the 6805-yard course before as they heard thunder rumbling from the horizon.

They had, in fact, less time than they thought. For the storm conceived in The Highlands was rapidly gaining pace as well as distance. It was only minutes away by the time that the two old timers became fully aware of its unwelcome intrusion. Flash of lightning . . . Jack had just played a great second shot onto the green of the 260 yard par four 15th, giving it sufficient back spin for it to settle majestically just 3ft from the flag. Glen was having no such luck, for he had shanked his drive into the rough. He was not pleased with himself nor was he with the first drops of rain and rumble of thunder. A flash of lightning, a heavy downpour, and a deafening roar moments later announced its presence overhead. Now was the time to abandon the game – nobody with any sense plays in a storm. That’s a golden rule in golf – it’s a great game but it’s not worth dying for! But Jack wanted to birdie the 15th and nothing was going to stop him. Although the rain persisted he prepare to putt out on this beautifully manicured green. For him it was a fairly easy one even in these atrocious conditions. Glen looked on enviously. Jack’s fatal finale . . . As Jack confidently tapped the ball he was aware momentarily of a brilliant light. And that was that. He did not live to see his ball trundle forward and drop into the hole for the birdie he craved so much.

For a fork of ligthning had struck him dead. A massive bolt of power had seared through his shocked body and along his putter to earth itself into the green. This was Jack’s finale. A 65 year old grandfather and lifelong golfer, Jack was buried in the historic graveyard of St Hilda’s Church, Kincaple, overlooking the River Eden just a stone’s throw from St Andrews. The touching ceremony was attended by his grieving family and sombre friends from his golf club. His widow, Doris, wept uncontrollably as the casket was lowered into eternity. His son, Charlie Walker, meanwhile could not resist fleeting thoughts of his share of his Dad’s large estate. Widow Doris, never a golfer herself, lived on for another 20 years and continued to hate golf. It had cost her plenty. Her family life was ruined by Jack’s long absences as he hacked his way round golf courses up and down the country. In the end it was a stroke if misfortune – call it a bolt of the blue – on a golf course that had robbed her of her husband. Symbols of dislike . . . His clubs were symbols of her dislike and were committed unceremoniously to the loft of the Walker home in the lovely village of Boarhills.

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