Circa 1910, Sidney Collins was appointed professional at the Mid-Cheshire Club which went into liquidation after the First World War. The role included upkeep of the course and he and his wife also acted as steward and stewardess. He was then appointed as the first professional at Sandiway and helped in the construction of the course under the direction of Ted Ray.
Sidney played alongside Ted Ray, Harry Vardon and James Braid at the formal opening of the Club in 1923. Tommy Gardner became his assistant in 1937 when Sidney’s son left his position as assistant to succeed his uncle as professional at North Wales Golf Club. Sidney retired due to ill health in 1946 but stayed with the club until his death in 1948. (See additional notes under William Sidney Collins, Personal and family history)
Born in Torrisholme, Morecambe, Tommy Gardner was the youngest of eight children. He became Assistant Professional to Jack Moffat at Morecambe Golf Club in 1932 and also that year a member of the PGA. Tommy moved to Sandiway in 1937 taking over from Sidney Collins Junior and served as Assistant Professional to Sidney Collins Senior. During the war he served six years in the RAF and on his return was appointed Professional and remained as such until his retirement until 1978.
When Tommy moved to Sandiway he had already made his mark and had become the only assistant to win the Cumberland, Westmorland and North Lancashire Professional Championship in 1937. Shortly after his move to Sandiway he won the Northern Assistants and Manchester Assistants Championships. From the time of his appointment as Professional until 1951 he regularly featured on the leader board at major professional events in the UK. He played in local, regional and national events including the PGA Seniors Championship and through his connections brought several well known players to Sandiway.
He was an exceptionally long hitter, a wonderful ball striker and shot maker but errant putting blighted his career from the early days. Although he led the first round of the British Seniors Championship in 1972 at Longniddry with a 68, he was by then concentrating on teaching and became a well respected coach in the North West numbering fellow professionals and county amateurs amongst his pupils.
In 1949 Tommy played alongside Norman Von Nida, Dai Rees and Bill Shankland and in another exhibition match in 1949 played with Henry Cotton and Sandiway members Ian Patey and JT Lambie. He was a friend to many of the great golfers of the era including Dave Thomas who was amongst the forty professionals who took part in Tommy’s Testimonial ProAm in 1978.
He served for many years on the Northern PGA Committee and became an Honorary member of the PGA.
He achieved the first of his fifteen Holes in One at Morecambe in 1935 and his last at Brow GC in 1996 with course records being held at Morecambe (62) in 1936 and Sandiway (66) in 1948.
Tommy was a great ambassador for the sport, his profession and Sandiway Golf Club, the club to which he dedicated his working life.
Roger Shutt started his career as Assistant Professional to Tommy Gardner before taking over as the Club's Professional on Tommy’s retirement in 1978. He played in and won local PGA events but also gained a reputation as a teacher. After moving to a local driving range he continued in specialist teaching in which he is still involved.
Bob Freeman joined Sandiway from Reddish Vale with a reputation of hitting the ball a long way. Moved to Cornwall from Sandiway to become a Secretary/Manager but later returned to Reddish Vale as Professional.
Jim Law was a capable golfer who joined Sandiway from Bidston where he had earned his reputation as a top shopkeeper and businessman. Now owns a retail golf equipment store in Chester.
A talented golfer, Ian’s stay at Sandiway unfortunately was short due to the fact that his family could not settle in the area.
Bill Laird’s early career in golf saw him winning the West Lothian Golf Club Junior Championship twice, shortly followed by a win in the County Junior Championship.In 1967 he became one of three assistant professionals working for John Panton, one of the legends of British professional golf, at Glenbervie Golf Club. In 1968 Bill travelled by train from Glenbervie to Llandudno to take part in one of the first training courses for assistant professionals run by the PGA.
Bill left Glenbervie for Brampton where he was the professional from 1970 to 1980 and it was during this period that he established himself not only as a club professional but also a fine teacher. In total he taught eight youngsters in his career who themselves became professionals including the renowned Harrison brothers, Phil, John and Steve who between them has a great influence on professional golf in the North East. Bill also taught his son, Gary, who is the professional at Wexham Park, Slough.
He then moved on to become professional at Bishop Auckland, one of the few clubs left in the country playing golf on land owned by the Church. Whilst there he was coach to the County Ladies and Junior teams before in 1990 he moved on to become professional at Sandiway before retiring in 2013.
Bill’s career as a full time golf club professional covered 43 years and whilst his own golf probably suffered from the long hours in the shop and teaching on the practice ground, many golfers have benefitted from his experience of the game and knowledge of the golf swing.
Gareth Jones is an AA PGA Qualified Golf Professional who became the Club Professional at Sandiway Golf Club in April 2013. Before then, from February 2005, Gareth was the Assistant Professional at Sandiway.
He turned professional in 2005 having had an amateur handicap of +2 at Porthmadog and Royal St David’s Golf Clubs. Gareth was on a golf scholarship in America in 2000 and holds the course record at three courses including Eaton Golf Club in 2012 with a round of 64.