England and Wales (North) Region
18 Apr 16
Danny Willett has probably enjoyed more publicity than another other golfer in modern times following his stunning victory in the Masters.
But there's one PGA Professional who can claim to have played a major part in helping him on the road to success when he was a 13-year-old playing off a 28 handicap.
Michael Ramsden (above), incumbent at Sheffield club Renishaw Park, was in charge at Bondhay in Worksop when he took the youngster under his wing.
"He didn't have anyone to play with at the time but quickly fitted well into the junior section and I spent every day of the week for more than three years with him," he recalled.
"I gave him clothes and balls which is something you do when you try to encourage youngsters. “Danny struggled a bit at first but club member Greg Hyde, who later turned professional, also helped out and we went out on the course literally every night of the week."
Ramsden used to take him to golf tournaments and Danny caddied for him when he was beaten in a play-off by Andrew Oldcorn in an Open qualifying round at Irvine in 2004 when the championship was staged at Royal Troon.
"He left our club and joined Rotherham when he was 16 and by then a member of the England Squad. I still speak to him quite a bit and play with him every four months."
Ramsden added: "Me and Greg still wind him up by telling him the big part we played in his career. If we hadn't encouraged him, given him free balls you never know he might have got into football!"
England lead golf coach Graham Walker, who looked after Willett for a decade, and has no doubt that the former world No 1 amateur's intention is to do the double by also becoming the best in the professional ranks.
"He has been working towards being the best player in the world since he was world amateur No 1," said Walker, head professional at The Oaks Golf Club & Spa.
"It will be no surprise to me if Danny sees that as the next step after winning the Masters. I know pretty much what he will be thinking and that is to win as often as he can and to become as good as he can. He is getting close to that No 1 spot and has a winner's mentality."
Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs will consult with Willett as they plan ways of commemorating the former county player's first major title.
Their president, Jonathan Plaxton, expects him to want something that involves bringing through the next generation.
Walker concurs, saying: "Danny was appreciative of every bit of help he got when he was younger. When I was doing regional boys coaching a few years ago, England Boys coaching and when I was first dealing with the England men's squad, he came along and chipped and pitched and putted with the lads.
"He has been back and done stuff with Yorkshire and England and he is well versed in helping the next generation along."
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