Picture sparks happy memory for golfer Tom

The rediscovery of a beautiful miniature golf trophy awarded for winning a contest brought back memories for one veteran local player.

Friday, 19th May 2017, 5:49 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 10:03 pm
Tom Rathbone, 85, with a replica of the trophy he was awarded after winning of the Wigan Infirmary Charity Cup golf tournament in 1949

Tom Rathbone, from Up Holland, was amazed to see Wigan Golf Club recently appealing for information about the Wigan Charity Cup in the Observer after a replica of it was bought from a silver collector.

Mr Rathbone, who is now 85, won the Wigan Infirmary Charity Cup in 1949 and was presented with a replica, which he still has at home, almost identical to the one that has been found.

He told of the fierce competition between golfers to win the prestigious tournament, which involved participating clubs holding internal contests to decide who would represent them in the final.

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The contest was fairly prestigious and he has a cutting of the Wigan Observer from July 1949 detailing his success and the scores of the other players in the event.

Mr Rathbone, of Parliament Street, played as a representative of Dean Wood Golf Club, with which he has an astonishing 70-year association, and says he intends to donate his replica trophy to the organisation for its displays of silverware.

He said: “I remember all the local clubs in Wigan ran their own tournaments, with the winners or the first two or three then playing off on a selected day to win this cup.

“The replicas are nice little items but the original cup really was very, very nice. It was just a larger version of it but it was lovely.

“There was fierce competition for it, of course. People were very keen to win it. I was in my prime in those days and I won a few big events in those years, between 1949 and 1951.

“The Observer article was absolutely amazing. As soon as I saw it I knew what it was. I think it would be nice to let Dean Wood have my replica so I will be doing that fairly shortly. They will be putting it on display.”

The story of the cup recently came to light again after Wigan Golf Club company secretary spotted one of the replicas and snapped it up to join the organisation’s collection of memorabilia.

Mr Ian Pinkerton was quite surprised as he had been unaware of the history of the competition and appealed for past winners or those with knowledge of the local golfing scene at the time to come forward.

The trophy was donated in 1947 by Jesse Baker of well-known family-run business Bakers Jewel Casket, which was in Wigan town centre.

Mr Baker was a director of the club when it became a company and was well known in the borough, also serving at one point as a local Rotary Club president.

The Infirmary Cup was replaced in 1951 by the Baker Trophy, which is still competed for today by the club’s members.

Mr Rathbone comes from a golfing family and many of his relatives still enthusiastically play the game, though he admits he is still looking to get back into the swing again after putting down his clubs for a while.

One of the highlights of his career was qualifying aged just 16 for the Boys Open Golf Championship, which gave him the opportunity to play at the world-famous St Andrew’s course in Scotland. He also played in several other inter-club competitions set up by keen golfers in the borough.