William Sidney Collins - A personal and family history.
Sidney Collins was born 26th December 1887 in Dunham Massey and whilst his schooling and adolescent years are something of a mystery, the Lymm Golf Club Centenary (1907-2007) book records Mr S Collins as the Club’s first professional groundsman.
Sidney married Emily Pierce on the 12th March 1912 and they lived in Warburton with their son, also William Sidney being born on the 23rd December 1912. Young Sidney followed his father into the golfing profession (see below) and his grandson Pat continued the family tradition being professional at Prestbury Golf Club after a spell in Sweden.
Golf seems to have been in the family with Sidney’s uncle, Fred Collins being the professional at The West Shore Golf Club in Llandudno, now known as The North Wales Club and Emily’s elder sister, Sarah married Ernest Hazlehurst in 1913, Ernest being golf professional at Windermere Golf Club.
In 1901, JH Taylor wrote an article in Golf Illustrated appealing for better treatment of professionals by Golf Clubs. A week later a letter was received by the Golf Illustrated, from “a professional in North Wales” stating the time was ripe for professionals to band themselves together and form an Association. One week later “a North of England Professional” urged JH Taylor “to take up the matter and earn the deep gratitude of all”. The PGA was founded in 1901. Could these letters have been from brothers Sidney at Sandiway and Fred at North Wales?
After his spell at Lymm, Sidney moved in about 1910 to the Mid Cheshire Golf Club and was installed as professional with his duties also being the upkeep of the course. In addition, he and his wife also acted as steward and stewardess. Sidney’s career was interrupted at the time of the First World War and like many others, he succumbed to the after effects of gassing, which subsequently shortened his life expectancy.
There was little golf during the 1914/18 war and the Club ceased to exist, whereupon he and the members moved to Sandiway in 1920.
Ted Ray was the architect for the original course but Sidney Collins undertook the construction with the course opening for play in 1922 and no doubt he was also responsible for implementing the changes recommended by Harry Colt from 1925.
Sidney held the Professional Course record on the original 1920 course with a 71 and played with Ted Ray, Harry Vardon and James Braid at the official opening of the Sandiway course in 1923. He continued as professional at Sandiway and lived in the Clubhouse on this course until his death on the 13th November 1948 after which he was buried at St Mary’s Church, Whitegate.
Young Sidney attended Northwich Grammar School until 1930 when, at the age of 17 he joined his father at Sandiway as assistant professional. He had already impressed as an amateur and continued to do so as an assistant when in 1935 he finished in third place in the Northern Assistants’ Professional Championship. He also set the precedent for assistants at Sandiway by holing in one at the 4th hole (Today’s temporary hole).
In 1937 he won the Manchester & District Championship and reached the quarter finals of the British Match Play Championship.
The same year, Sidney who was an ambitious young man, left Sandiway to join his Uncle Fred at North Wales and the following year became the Professional. In 1938 he won the Welsh Professional Championship by five shots at St. Mellons and repeated this success in 1952 at Southerdown. Amongst his many other golfing successes, in 1954 he was the British Professional Foursomes Champion with Bernard Hunt.
For many years Sidney concentrated more on teaching and was official instructor to the PGA, the Ladies Golf Union, The Sports Council and Golf Foundation. Together with fellow professional Tom Jones, Sidney was instrumental in setting up the first PGA training courses for assistants in 1961 in Llandudno and these continued until 1969 before being transferred to Lilleshall. One notable trainee in 1968 was a young William Laird, now retired, Sandiway’s professional from 1990 to 2013 who remembers travelling to Llandudno from Glenbervie by train.
Sidney played in the Tommy Gardner Testimonial Pro-Am in 1978.
Pat Collins and family
P.G.A. Centenary Brochure
Book Compiled By W A Seaman -- “Sandiway Golf Club. A Concise History”
Lymm Golf Club Centenary (1907-2007) Book