Peter Butler (1932 - 2022)

Peter Butler (1932 - 2022)


Tributes have been paid to Peter Butler, a former PGA Captain, key figure in the foundation of the European Tour, and oldest surviving Great Britain and Ireland Ryder Cup player who has passed away at the age of 90.

Peter, who was born in Birmingham, was elected to PGA membership in 1949 and began his career as the assistant to Bill Button at Harborne Golf Club in the city. He went on to share head professional duties with Button and served the Royal Automobile Club, Epsom, Surrey, from 1977 until 1993.

In between times Peter established himself as one of the most accomplished players in the British Isles.

“He was a really good player and I played with Peter quite a lot,” recalled three-time Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher.

“He had a wonderful short game, was very straight, a good holer out, and had a good temperament. He was always a great winner – he could always hold on to win when he got the opportunity.”

Peter won 26 tournaments in total, one on the European Seniors Tour in 1993. The majority, however, were recorded on the European Tour which he was party to setting up.

“He was at the beginning of the Tour when John Jacobs started it and needed a lot of support from the top players,” said Ken Schofield, former executive director of the European Tour.

“Peter was one of those who helped John and when Neil Coles took over from Bernard Hunt as chairman of the fledgling Tour Peter was right at the centre of things.

“He was a very attentive committee man, always very positive and brought a lot of ideas and support to those of us who were there at the beginning.

“If we needed things like a car contract, Peter would be the man. He had so many friendships and contacts, he was enormously helpful.

“He was also a wonderful player - he finished in the top 15 at Augusta twice and I cannot speak highly enough of him.”

Peter was also responsible for the recruitment of John Paramor as a referee to the nascent Tour and Schofield added: “We needed another referee and John was Peter’s caddy at the time.

“Peter recommended him for the role and, the rest, as they say, is history – he went on to become the leading rules official in the world.”

Peter also made history himself in 1973 when, in what was his fourth and final appearance in the Ryder Cup, he recorded a hole-in-one at the 16th at Muirfield to become the first player from either side in the history of the match to achieve the feat.

A year prior to that, Peter had served The PGA as Captain and his always strong bond with the Association was exemplified by him representing Great Britain and Ireland in the PGA Cup on five occasions. He made his debut in 1978 and was on the victorious side three times, winning a dozen matches, losing two, and halving three.

In addition, to representing The PGA on the course and playing in its tournaments – he won the Midland Open Championship six times – Peter never forgot his roots or training as a club professional.

“He came from a generation for whom the PGA was his first port of call,” Schofield confirmed.

“In the early days he used to be the pro at St Cloud in France,” added Gallacher, a successor of Peter as PGA Captain.

“He played the British circuit in the summer and autumn, then in the winter he and his wife Doreen would go to Saint Cloud and he’d teach there.

“And when he retired, he became a top-notch club pro at the RAC Club. He had a wonderful business brain and had a really good shop there. He was well-liked at the club.”

Similarly, Peter was a popular and hugely respected figure in PGA circles and chief executive Robert Maxfield added: “Peter never forgot his calling as a PGA pro despite all his success on Tour and the part he played in setting it up.

“That was typified by his service as the Association’s Captain, sterling performances in the PGA Cup, love of coaching and day-to-day running of a pro shop.

“His passing is a sad loss to the Association and, even more so to his daughter Verity, to whom we extend heartfelt condolences.”


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