Obituary: Joan Marshall, golfer and administrator

Joan Marshall
Joan Marshall
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Joan Marshall, golfer. Born 26 October 1942. Died 14th September 2018, aged 75

Joan Marshall, who has died aged 75, was a leading figure in Scottish womens’ golf as player, administrator and official over many years. A member of Baberton Golf Club at Juniper Green in Edinburgh for 41 years, she was club champion ten times and set a course record of 68 in 1982, later bettered by daughter Karen by a stroke.

Her ability as a youngster led to her representing East girls against West girls in their annual match and winning the Midlothian Junior championship. She played for Scotland Juniors against England at Barassie and Beaconsfield near London, winning both her ties at Barassie. At county level she won the Midlothian championship four times and the county Champion of Champions’ competition three times, continuing to represent the county competitively till 2000. At national level she played regularly in the Scottish Amateur championship, her best performance coming in 1979 when she reached the semi-final at Gullane and was unfortunate not to be awarded a full “cap” as a result. She did later represent Scotland several times as a “Vet” and “Senior”. At her peak she played off scratch and was particularly noted for her short game, consistency and ability to play under pressure.

While still an active player she became involved in the administrative side of the sport, going on to hold a number of prestigious positions. In 1990 she was Chairwoman of the Scottish Ladies’ Golf Association having been a member of the Executive Committee for some years . Latterly she was honoured with an appointment as Honorary Vice President of the Association in recognition of her services.

Between 2005 and 2008 she was the Scottish selector on the Great Britain and Ireland Committee responsible for selection of Curtis Cup and Vagliano Trophy teams. She was captain of many Scottish international teams at all age levels – junior, ladies, and “Vets”/“Seniors”. She captained the team at the European Junior Ladies’ Team Championships in Belgium, the Ladies’ team at the Home Internationals at Barassie in 1988 when she led Scotland to a clean sweep triumph and later in the European Team Championships at Pals in Spain and Wentworth.

At “senior” level she led the Scottish team in the Home Internationals and in the European team Championship in Holland. A Scottish selector for the national team in the 1980’s, she was also Captain, and later President, of Midlothian County Association, for which she was awarded Honorary Membership. At Baberton, she was Ladies’ Captain in their centenary year and was also awarded Honorary Membership of the club.

In her role as captain of various teams she was successful and popular thanks to her empathetic nature allied to her ability to ease the pressure on players and her attention to the needs of the individual. As testament to her worth in that capacity, many players remained lifelong friends with her. As an administrator, according to friend and fellow player Pamela Williamson, “she was capable, efficient and got things done”.

Joan Henderson was born in Edinburgh, the only child of George, a master baker and Abigail nee Clark. Brought up in the city’s Kingsknowe area, she attended Cranley School in Polwarth. Golf was in the family, with both parents excellent players. Her father was club champion at Baberton, Longniddry and Dalmahoy, where Joan began playing and where her mother was also champion, as well as at Kingsknowe and Longniddry. The existence of practice netting in the attic reflected their enthusiasm for golf.

In 1962, however, family loyalties had to be put aside as Joan faced her mother in the final of the Dalmahoy club championship and defeated her! After school she attended Moray House College before working in Standard Life, the Albany Tyre company and then for 20 years as PA to the chief executive of Viewpoint Housing Association. On 2 April 1966 she married Brian Marshall in St Andrew’s Church in Juniper Green and the couple, who had grown up together as near neighbours, enjoyed 52 years of happy and fulfilling marriage, initially living at Kingsknowe before moving to Juniper Green in 1975. They had two children, Stephen and Karen.

Again, golf featured largely in the family with husband Brian a low handicap player and one time champion at Kingsknowe while Stephen was twice champion there and sister Karen has surpassed her mother’s total of Baberton championship successes with 14.

Unsurprisingly, much of the couple’s social life was golf related, with their house being a popular venue for parties after functions at the nearby Baberton club and at Hogmanay. The first fortnight in August was sacrosanct for family golf holidays to St Andrews, where they supported the Eden and Strathtyrum tournaments, the latter of which Joan helped establish. Last year she was delighted with granddaughter Ella’s win in the Marshall Trophy, donated by her, at the Midlothian Girls’ Championship.

Away from the links, they were enthusiastic attenders at rugby internationals at Murrayfield and home nations’ venues. Other interests apart from family, to whom Joan was devoted, included having been a cub leader locally, gardening and upholstery, which she studied at night classes.

Unfortunately her latter years were marred with macular degeneration, which prevented her playing golf and restricted her activities. She was very much a “people person”, bright, sociable and fun to be around, who will be long remembered for her contribution to golf and much missed by many.

She is survived by her husband, children and grandchildren Ella and Grace.

JACK DAVIDSON