Malcolm Gregson (1943-2024)

Malcolm Gregson (1943-2024)

27/01/2024

Malcolm Gregson, a member of the 1967 Great Britain Ryder Cup team and one of just five players to complete the PGA Assistants’ Championship and PGA Championship double, has passed away at the age of 80.

Born in Leicester, educated at Millfield School, Somerset, and blessed with film star looks, Malcolm showed great promise as a golfer in his early teens when, a week after his 14th birthday, he reached the last 16 of the Boys’ Amateur Championship.

He followed up by twice representing England boys in their annual encounter with Scotland and, on turning professional in 1961, joined Pat Keene as an assistant at Moor Park, Hertfordshire.

Attachments with Dyrham Park, West Sussex, Moor Allerton, Badgemore Park and Almaina Park Golf Clubs followed but not before Malcolm had confirmed that early promise in 1964.

He won the Gor-Ray-sponsored PGA Assistants’ Championship at Hartsbourne and then delivered what proved to be his best Open Championship performance by finishing 19th at St Andrews.

Malcolm played his final two rounds in the Championship in tandem with Gary Player and later recalled: “I was 20 years of age, and it was a wonderful experience for me playing in the Open at St Andrews with the great man.”

All of which served as an appetiser for the success-laden summer of 1967 that began with him winning the Schweppes-sponsored PGA Championship at Hunstanton by finishing three strokes clear of Ireland’s Hugh Boyle.

In doing so, he became the third player after Dai Rees and Peter Alliss to complete the PGA Assistants’ and PGA Championship double, a trio that later turned into a quintet with the additions of Tony Jacklin and Neil Coles.

Coincidentally, all five, with Rees as non-playing captain, were members of the Great Britain team that took on the Americans at the Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas, in October.

Malcolm went into it buoyed by two more tournament successes – the Daks at Wentworth and Martini International at Fulford – and being awarded the Harry Vardon trophy for winning the tournament players’ Order of Merit.

The trip to Texas, by contrast, proved to be a chastening experience for Malcolm and his team-mates. The former lost all four of his matches and Great Britain finished 15 points adrift of their hosts.

Malcolm’s first match saw him and Boyle facing Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson in the afternoon foursomes and, in recalling his debut, he admitted: “I was absolutely terrified! To face the great Arnold Palmer, then 37 and in his prime, in my first match was something to remember for ever!”

Despite the disappointing outcome, Malcolm retained fond memories of the experience, not least overhearing Ben Hogan, the American captain’s team talk.

“We watched and listened to as best we could in our locker room to Ben Hogan's opening team talk,” he recalled. “You'd have thought that Messrs. Palmer, Boros, Casper, Sanders, Littler, Brewer, Dickinson, Geiberger, Pott and Nichols were all naughty school boys being instructed by their headmaster. Then, when it was time to warm up on the range, the Americans had to watch Mr Hogan practise first ... No doubt to gain inspiration!"

In terms of on course success, Malcolm, fared somewhat better while representing England with Alliss in the World Cup which was played a few weeks later Mexico City.

He finished tied 6th in the individual standings and his hot streak in domestic tournaments continued seven months later when he won the Daks for the second year running.

That turned out to be Malcolm’s last tournament victory in what became the European Tour in 1974 and, having qualified for the PGA Tour in October 1968, success in the USA proved similarly elusive.

There were near misses, however. Malcolm was twice a runner-up in the Dutch Open, to Jack Newton in 1972 and Graham Marsh seven years later. He was also a regular competitor on the Safari Circuit and turned the tables on Newton in 1974 by defeating him in a play-off to win the Cock o’ the North in Zambia.

Malcolm was made a PGA Honorary Member in 1994 and commenting on his career, the Association’s chief executive Robert Maxfield, said: “Despite his successes at the game’s elite level, Malcolm remained a proud PGA Professional.

“He never forgot his roots and was a good friend and supporter of the Association. Above all, he was a fine man who will be greatly missed.”

Malcolm had made his debut on the European Senior Tour a year earlier and went on to play in more than 200 events, winning five of them before making his final appearance in 2008.

His last victory had come in 2004 when he finished two shots clear of Japan’s Seiji Ebihara in the De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic at Slaley Hall and, with his 13-year-old son Matthew on the bag, claimed the £22,500 first prize.

Matthew has subsequently become the director of golf at Signature Golf, an international company based in Southport and the USA that offers upmarket and bespoke golfing packages.

It was formed in 2013 and Malcolm, who had settled on Merseyside but remained an avid supporter of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers, worked as an ambassador for the company. In addition, he monitored his younger son, Mark’s progress in following in his footsteps by becoming a PGA Professional who is attached to Formby Hall.

Malcolm is also survived by Jackie his wife and the PGA extends sincere condolences to her and their sons on their loss.

*Malcolm’s funeral will be held at 11.15am on Thursday February 29th at St. Peter’s Church, Green Lane, Formby, L37 7DL. The wake, starting at 12.45pm, will follow at Hesketh Golf Club, Cockle Dicks Lane, Southport, PR9 9QQ. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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