Ryder Cup great Torrance takes centre stage at PGA in Scotland lunch

Ryder Cup great Torrance takes centre stage

15/12/2022

Play it again, Sam? And again and again. As one of Scotland’s most decorated and celebrated golfers, Sam Torrance will never tire of holding court and regaling an audience with memories that are so golden, they could be housed next to the bullion in an underground vault.

“I’m getting on and it’s lovely to still be getting recognised,” smiled the 69-year-old Ryder Cup great who was the guest of honour at The PGA in Scotland’s annual lunch in the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. “It’s like signing an autograph. People say ‘does it not bother you?’ And I say, ‘it will bother me when people stop asking for one’.”

The 600-strong crowd lapped up Torrance’s on-stage Q&A with the BBC’s fine golf correspondent, Iain Carter, as they meandered through the Scot’s colourful, glory-laden and well-documented career.

Torrance’s relationship with The PGA runs deep. His late father Bob, the revered swing guru of global renown, was a proud club professional for a spell while Sam began his apprenticeship as a teenager at Sunningdale back in the day. 

His first win as a professional arrived 50 years ago, when he beat Doug McClelland 5&4 in the final of the Under-25s Matchplay Championship that was supported by Lord Derby, who was the president of The PGA.

“The winner of that got into the Dunlop Masters and I remember before the final we were having lunch and Doug looked at me and said, ‘don’t worry Sam, the runner-up will get into the Dunlop Masters too as I’m already exempt’,” said Torrance with a smile. “I almost choked on my food. He wouldn’t have beat me in a million years after saying that. And I won 5&4.”

En-route to that maiden pro success in 1972, Torrance also vanquished his fellow Scot, Bernard Gallacher, in the last four. “He wouldn’t give me the match on the 18th despite me having two putts from 10 feet,” chortled Torrance about that tight tussle. “I’ve never let him forget it.”

Torrance will never forget his dad either. Since Bob’s passing back in 2014, the game that defined this family has never been quite the same for Sam. “Since dad’s been gone, I’ve not hit a shot properly,” reflected a retired Torrance of that gaping, aching void.

“There’s nobody to talk to about it, nobody to impress. There’s still a big hole.

“Dad had a great time as a club pro. I saw that side of life in golf first and I probably would have become a club pro myself if I wasn’t good enough to play on tour.

"Nowadays, people I’ve been gambling with for 30 years let me play off six but that’s a bid sign. I’m not getting much fun out of it, to be honest, as I don’t like being inadequate. It’s just gone, which is fine as I’ve had a wonderful career. It was my hobby as well as a career.”

With his dad never far from Torrance’s thoughts, there was added poignancy to Wednesday’s celebration of the work of The PGA pros following the recent passing of the association’s former chief executive, Sandy Jones.

“He was great and we had some fantastic times,” added Torrance of the Gartcosh man who started as the Scottish PGA’s regional secretary and became one of global golf’s most powerful figures. “He gave me so much praise when I would come back from the European Tour to play in the Scottish PGA Championship. But I would say ‘jeez Sandy, it’s nothing to come back, of course I would play in it’. We had a great bond through the Ryder Cup too. It’s a big loss.”

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