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England (East) Region

End of an era

21 Nov 16

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Robin Gowers (right) with Alan Walker.

Former PGA captain Alan Walker pays tribute to Robin Gowers, his mentor and a PGA professional for more than 50 years who has died at the age of 74.

Robin Gowers was head professional at the Corporation of London’s Chingford Golf Club, bordering Epping Forest in Essex. Chingford was a public course and very popular in the 60’s through to the 90’s. where numerous people started to play golf.

Robin was the son of Leslie Gowers, a PGA Member and followed his father upon his retirement to the post of head pro at Chingford. Professional golf was in the family with Robin’s uncle, Albert Gowers (Leslie’s brother) the professional at Brentwood Golf Club in Essex (another public course). Robin’s brother was Terry Gowers who was for a short time professional at Theydon Bois Golf Club.

Robin was one of the fortunate PGA Professionals who worked at a busy municipal course, which in the 60’s through the 80’s & 90’s were very lucrative posts.

Robin, then latterly with his brother Terry, ran the golf course at Chingford and were both kept very busy with lots of golfers, coaching, club repairs and retail (they had their own brand of ‘Gowers’ clubs they used to assemble in-house) plus hire sets and hire trolleys. They made a very good living and lived a comfortable life. In those days most of the municipal pros were signed up to represent Wilson Sporting Goods and those were the clubs that Robin used for all the years I knew him.

Robin was a very good coach (or ‘teacher’ in those days) and many members from local private clubs took lessons with him. Robin was a big part of club life (Chingford had three golf clubs attached to the course namely, Chingford, Chingford Ladies and Royal Epping Forest, which, formed in 1888, is one of the oldest clubs in the UK.

I started my golf at Chingford and joined Robin as an assistant professional in 1972. While there I qualified as a PGA Professional in 1074 and was appointed head professional at Wanstead Golf Club two years later.

Robin was a good all round professional, a decent player, a good coach who got the best out of his pupils and a good club repairer.

He was a PGA Professional in a completely different era than today when demand for golf far outstripped the supply (of golfers) and enjoyed a good life as a pro and was kept extremely busy. Each Friday he would travel up to Putney to the Professional Golfers’ Cooperative Association (PCGA) headquarters were and bring back stock for his busy golf shop. The internet was nowhere in site!

Tragically In the 80’s he suffered a serious heart attack, so bad that he received a ‘jockey’ heart transplant from the famous Papworth Hospital. He would have only been in his mid to late 40’s when his transplant took place and it saved his life.

Remarkably he made a very good recovery but decided to semi-retire to Kent with his wife Sandy and their two young children, Kirsty and Warren. He would occasionally return to Chingford for a couple of days to teach old clients but in the end the journey was too much for him and he decided to retire.

Robin was my first contact with a PGA Professional and had an enormous impact on me – he was somewhat of a father figure in many ways and from the time I had my first couple of lessons with him I knew I wanted to be a golfer. We spent many times together on and off the golf course and he played a big part in my formative years as a PGA professional.

Robin continued his retired life in Kent but sadly passed away on September 14, 2016, a couple of days short of his 75th birthday, from a short but devastating outbreak of cancer. Ironically both his hearts were in good condition.

He will be sadly missed.

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