It was towards the end of his time with Dennis Hazell, that Jock enjoyed his annus mirabilis – 1959.
As well as playing in the inaugural Hong Kong Open that year, Jock, as a key member of the Fanling fraternity, along with the likes of Kim Hall, Alan Sutcliffe and Hugh de Lacy Staunton, helped organize it too. “I remember getting on the phone and calling up the Australian pros to see if they could come and play in it,” he recalls. “It started off small but we put on a very good tournament and look where it is today. We’re all very proud of what it has become and I haven’t missed one yet.”
Jock started that first Hong Kong Open brightly, carding a solid 70 to finish the first round just one shot off the pace. Although a 76 on the second day put him out of championship contention, the very fact that he was representing Hong Kong in the colony’s own tournament was, in his own words, “a tremendous feeling.”
Fast forward a few months and Jock was teeing it up alongside Max Faulkner, one of the greats of the game, at the Open at Murifield. Having got through qualifying earlier on in the week, Jock was, by his own admission, “jolly nervous.”
“The biggest difference between amateurs and professionals back then became immediately obvious,” recounts Jock with a smile. “On the first hole Faulkner hit his approach just short of the green and received generous applause from the crowd, which was understandable, as he was a former Open champion. Then I stepped up, having hit my tee shot slightly further, and put it on the green, closer than him, only a few yards from the flag. The crowd remained deathly silent. It was all pretty amusing.”
Later on in his round, at the 15th hole, Jock sprayed his drive into a beverage stand. “In those days you couldn’t get relief – you had to play it where it lay, although it was a little embarrassing taking my stance in a hut,” he says. It proved to be one of the more memorable holes of his career, however, as Jock chipped back to the fairway, put his third on to the green and sunk the putt for a par. Jock the ‘Kiosk King’? Nobody awarded him that moniker, but it has more of a ring to it than Seve the ‘Car park Champion’, after all.
Jock narrowly missed the cut at Muirfield, but a surprise was in store after he completed his second round when Faulkner asked if he’d consider working for him as his assistant. “The last thing I wanted to do was to play golf every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I turned him down,” laughs Jock. “In fact, the thought of turning pro never really crossed my mind.”
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