02 Feb 17
Former Hazlehead golf professional Ian Smith described picking up the John Panton Award at this year's PGA in Scotland luncheon as "a memorable day and one I'll never forget".
Dundee-born Smith was nominated for the coveted honour, which recognises long and outstanding service to the sport, after being a PGA Professional for more than 60 years.
He got his first job in golf in 1952 as an assistant to Jack McLean at Gleneagles, spending "four happy years" at the Perthshire resort.
He then had eight years at Hesketh in Lancashire before arriving at Hazlehead in 1964 as Tom Whyte's successor.
Smith, who tied for 16th behind Kel Nagle in the 1960 Open at St Andrews, was there for 43 years and some of the assistant pros he trained went on to become leading club pros.
They included Ronnie MacAskill, now the director of golf at Royal Aberdeen, as well as Ronnie Urquhart, Glenn Taylor, Graham Everett and Craig Ross.
"I thought my days of making speeches were long gone, so this one might be rusty," said Smith as he received his honour from PGA chief executive Sandy Jones at the annual event in Glasgow.
"It's been a long road and there have been some ups and downs. I wouldn't have changed it for anything in the world. I would like to thank Sandy Jones and the PGA for nominating me for this award. It is a memorable day and one I will never forget."
Smith recalled playing with the legendary Panton, who made three Ryder Cup appearances and won the Scottish PGA Championship a record-equalling eight times.
"I got to know John well and played with him on several occasions in the 50s and 60s," he said. “I marveled at the way he hit his iron shots. That was with old-fashioned blades, too. It was just pure skill and John had an abundance of that."
Jones described Smith as an "icon in the north of Scotland" and praised him for "getting so many people into golf".
He added: "When we come up with the nominations for this award, we always ask ourselves, 'would John Panton have approved?' I don't think you need to worry in that respect, Ian."
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