Basil Proudfoot (1938 – 2024)

Basil Proudfoot (1938 – 2024)

25/01/2024

Basil Proudfoot, who served Berkhamsted Golf Club for more than four decades and was the middle member of a golfing dynasty, has passed away at the age of 85.

He joined his father, Joe, the head professional at Aldeburgh Golf Club, Suffolk, on leaving school and absorbed the skills of a traditional club pro until his fledgling career was interrupted by National Service, a peacetime conscription introduced in 1947 for able-bodied men aged 18-21.

Basil returned to Aldeburgh after spending 18 months with the RAF in Uxbridge, Middlesex, and while continuing to learn his trade under his father’s expert guidance, he made time to play competitively.

A highlight came in 1960 when he played in a three-ball with Ryder Cup stars Eric Brown and Bernard Hunt on the Old Course at St Andrews in a qualifying round for the Centenary Open Championship at the Home of Golf.

Closer to his home, and a year later, Basil won the Suffolk Open and Suffolk Professional Championship, doubtless doing so playing briskly. In addition to his skills as a player, Basil was renowned for the speed at which he executed them, not least when he carded a 10-under par 62 at Aldeburgh in just a few minutes over two hours.

Basil’s on course immediacy was matched by his career progression when, at the age of 23, he was appointed head professional at Berkhamsted. He remained at the Hertfordshire club for the next 41 years, combining his expertise as a coach, club repairer and running the pro shop with passing on his vast experience to Stephen, his son.

It is testament to Basil’s mentoring that Stephen responded by following him and his grandfather as a PGA Professional and in doing so being named the Association’s Trainee of the Year in 1989.

Basil, meanwhile, continued to enjoy success on the course. Adapting to playing in the desert on ‘browns’ while on a winter teaching secondment to Oman in 1983, he won the 10th Oman Open at Ras al- Hamra Golf Club. Then, almost 10 years later and only a few months after undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery, Basil led the field after the first round of the PGA Seniors Championship at Sunningdale.

In between times, he played his part in the launch of the PGA’s East Region in 1987 and its continuing success.

“Basil was instrumental in inviting us to host our first club pro-am at Berkhamsted at the end of April,” recalled David Wright, the East Region’s first secretary and the PGA’s current heritage and member support executive.

“The event marked Basil’s 25th anniversary at the club, was sponsored by Kodak Graphics, the sun shone and, fittingly, it was won by Basil’s son, Stephen.

“It was an auspicious start for the Region and, thanks to Basil’s influence, we were able to return for another pro-am and Assistants’ events in the years that followed.

“He was a traditional and popular PGA Professional whose relationship with the Berkhamsted members proved the foundations for his immense success at the club he served loyally for more than 40 years.”

Basil was made a PGA Honorary Member and, having been granted life membership of Berkhamsted in 1987 in recognition of 25 years of service, he continued to spend many happy hours there following his retirement.

Reflecting on his father’s time in the golf industry, Stephen, a PGA Fellow Professional who is general manager at Ashridge Golf Club, Hertfordshire, said: “My father entered the profession with no expectations of a grand lifestyle.

“For him it was all about the people, service and being at the heart of the club. He loved the industry, and it has provided so many happy memories and stories we are so lucky to have.”

Basil, who was pre-deceased by Winnie, his wife, is survived by Stephen, his daughter-in-law Janet, and grand-daughters Amy and Zoë. The PGA extends heartfelt condolences to them and all at Berkhamsted Golf Club where he remained a popular and much-loved figure.

A celebration of Basil’s life will be held at 11.45am on Tuesday February 27, 2024, at St Peter’s Church, Berkhamsted High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 2AX. There is limited parking near the church but a pay & display car park behind Tesco is approximately a minute’s walk away. Two disabled parking spaces are provided right outside the church on a first come, first served basis. The service will be followed by a private committal at Kingshill Cemetery for family only and a reception at Berkhamsted Golf Club, The Common, Berkhamsted, HP4 2QB.  

Family flowers only please but donations can be made to The British Heart Foundation via a link that will be set up, or cheques can be sent c/o J Worley Funeral Directors Ltd., 344, High Street, Berkhamsted, HP4 1HT.

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