Retirement beckons for Huish, club pro who led in '75

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THE notion of a Scottish club professional in the company of a teenage caddie whose father had managed Rangers leading the Open championship by two strokes at the halfway mark would seem far-fetched for a work of fiction today, but in 1975 at Carnoustie that was the unnerving reality of the situation facing David Huish.

As he prepares for retirement on Thursday from the post of club professional he's held at North Berwick since 1967, the 65-year-old still recalls that Open at Carnoustie when he led Tom Watson by two strokes after opening with scores of 67 and 69. Under the glare of an intense media spotlight, the third and fourth rounds of the oldest major were not so rewarding and Huish fell back with 76 and 80, eventually finishing 13 shots behind a triumphant Watson.

Alan White, the son of the former Rangers manager Davie, then in charge of Dundee, went on to become the professional at Lanark, but was just 14 when he caddied for Huish at Carnoustie.

Even in 1975, it wasn't easy for a club pro to tee up in the Open. Huish survived a seven-man play-off in qualifying to earn a berth in the field. The experience must have served him well because four out of his five victories on the European Seniors Tour also came in extra holes.

"Now the Open is a world stage and it's very difficult to get in," said Huish. "I qualified at Panmure through a play-off and birdied the first extra hole. These are totally changed days and you can't compare now with then."

Having left school at 15, Huish's professional career began half a century ago as an assistant pro at Gullane. He took on his first head professional post at Hamilton in 1965 before being recruited by North Berwick two years later. He subsequently combined club work with tournament play on the Tartan Tour. Huish remembers it was the emergence of full-time tournament pros such as Tony Jacklin and Peter Oosterhuis who changed the face of competition and made it impossible for club men such as himself to contend on a level playing field.

Even as a senior, Huish knew he was at a disadvantage compared to those who were free to practice while he was dealing with course maintenance issues and members' needs at North Berwick.

Nevertheless, as a man for all golfing seasons, Huish wouldn't change anything about his career. Off the course, he was a distinguished member of the Ryder Cup committee and a past captain of the PGA who received a special award from the European Tour for his services to golf in 2004.

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