Prized Ryder Cup mementoes raffled to benefit food banks

Mark Crane, one of Scotland’s top caddies, has raised more than £4,000 to support food banks in his native Ayrshire during the coronavirus crisis through a raffle for some of his prized possessions from the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Mark Crane, left, caddying for Tyrrell Hatton at the 2018 Ryder Cup. Picture: Getty.

The Prestwick man, who was on Tyrrell Hatton’s bag at Le Golf National in Paris, gave away his caddie’s bib and a flag, pictured below, signed by the winning European team as the top prizes in the raffle, which cost £10 per ticket.

Crane decided to contribute to the Ayrshire food banks at the same time as two of his fellow bagmen on the European Tour, Ian Finnis and Billy Foster, also came up with money-raising ideas during the current pandemic.

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Finnis, who works for Tommy Fleetwood, raised £10,000 in less than a day through a raffle aimed at alleviating hardship for caddies while Foster, who is on Matt Fitzpatrick’s bag these days, auctioned off Ryder Cup flags in support of the NHS.

“Just before Finno came up with his idea, I heard a lady talking on West FM radio about how a lot of children get their best meals at either out-of-school clubs or at school itself, and that is a big loss at the moment to, say, a single mum who has two or three kids,” Crane told The 
Scotsman.

“After Finno had got in touch with me about his raffle, I started looking through some of the stuff I have collected over the years because there’s some good stuff in there and I thought it would be great to try to do something to help locally.

“When I heard about the food banks in Ayrshire, that’s what I decided to try to help and this will help three food banks in East Ayshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire. I raised £4220 and it will be a three-way split of the money going to them. It will get some meals on the table for some people who are less privileged and struggling at the moment.”

On giving up the bib and flag from Europe’s thumping win over a star-studded US side in France, he added: “I will never forget the 2018 Ryder Cup, no matter what, but I will be able to go to my grave knowing that the bib and the flag are not in a box up in a loft. They have gone to a good cause and that is quite satisfying, to be honest.

“I will always treasure those memories from Le Golf National, but it’s good to feel they are being shared and, at the same time, it is nice to feel I am doing something to help out locally in these difficult times.”

Crane started his professional caddying career on Lloyd Saltman’s bag when the Craigielaw player won the Silver Medal in the 2005 Open at St Andrews. He then had a lenghty spell with Richie Ramsay and, after splitting with Hatton after that Ryder Cup, is now with young Swede Marcus Kinhult.

“There’s more to golf than playing the game, and I always say this to people,” said Crane of what the game has instilled in him. “As a young person, I grew up in Prestwick speaking to people who were Lords, Sirs etc and it grounds you well. It prepares you for a lot of things in life and gives you good manners. Being around good people helps you become a good person yourself.

“With golf having rules and etiquette, I also think it makes you honest. There are a lot of great things that come from golf and not just for me personally, though I definitely think it is the best sport in the world.

“There are so many people out there who are willing to dig deep and help people. I think you will see more things like this over the coming weeks. We’ve seen Finno do his bit and I don’t think he’ll be the last. You don’t want to do everything at once and I am sure others will be doing similar things going forward.”

Events have been either postponed or cancelled on the European Tour up until the last week in June, with the Open, due to be held at Royal St George’s in July, having been called off by the R&A and pushed back 12 months.

“I’ve had a good think about things and I’ve kind of written this year off, to be honest,” said Crane. “I know that is maybe a bit too extreme, but in my mindset I feel that’s the best way to think about it and anything else will be a bonus.

“Obviously everyone would like to get back to golf, but right now it is not important. You know what, golf can wait. And, when it does come back, we will all be back with a bang. Hopefully everybody will appreciate things a bit more and the world will be a better place.

“I’ve been lucky in the game. I’ve done well out of it. There are other caddies who are doing as good a job as me or better even but haven’t had as much luck. I’ve been fortunate to stick some money away, but who knows when that will run out.

“You’ve just got to get on with it, suck it up and hopefully we can all come the other end healthy. Wealth without health is nothing, really.”

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