149. Willie Milne Has Died Aged 71

24th February 2023

William Torbet Gray Milne passed away on 31st January 2023 aged 71.

Born in Scotland on 13th July 1951 Willie, who had been based in Germany since 2004, suffered a cardiac arrest whilst on holiday in Thailand.

He was a ‘larger than life’ character who stood 6 ft. 4” tall and weighed in at over 16 stones.

In 1972 Milne was selected for a GB&I U21 Youths team in a match against Europe at Glasgow Gailes G.C. and for Scotland in the Men’s Home Internationals.

In 1973 he represented Scotland in the European Amateur Team Championship in Portugal. Scotland, who lost to England in the Final, and Milne – who tied for the leading score in the qualifying with a 71 before winning five of the six games he was involved in in the match play stages – both made a favourable impression.  

His performance earned him a place in the GB&I 1973 Walker Cup team that travelled in August to The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The team lost the match 14-10 mainly because they failed to win any of the eight Foursomes games that were played, losing six and halving two. Milne playing with Charlie Green on Day 1 lost to Danny Edwards and James Ellis by 2&1. On Day 2 he was paired with Hugh Stuart and in a tight match lost by 1 Hole to Bill Rogers and Michael Killian.

On a positive note Milne won both of his Singles games, defeating Mark Pfeil 4&3 on Friday and Mark Killian 2&1 on Saturday. Unusually GB&I won the two Singles sessions 9-7 that year.

Willie Milne Signs a Contract with his manager Derek Pillage in February 1974 

Milne turned professional shortly after playing in the Home Internationals in September 1973, competing on the European Tour with little success between 1973 and 1980.

His reputation was damaged in 1975 after he was fined £500 by the PGA for scoring irregularities in the Nigerian Open which led to his disqualification. He signed for a 5 on the 12th hole in the 3rd round when he had in fact taken 6. Despite subsequently realising his error he failed to report it and played out the 4th Round. 

He played in five Open Championships in the 1970s, the first as an amateur in 1973, but failed to make the cut in any of them.

Milne’s best result as a professional came in the 1979 French Open when he finished second to fellow Scot Bernard Gallacher at Golf Club de Lyon earning around €5,500. 

He represented GB&I in two PGA Cup matches in 1982 and 1986. 

During his playing career and from 1981 as a club pro. he was attached to a number of clubs, namely Tayside Golf, the Machrie Hotel on Islay, Sand Martins G.C. in Berkshire, the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, Royal Dornoch and Carnoustie Golf Course Hotel & Resort.

Willie was at Carnoustie when it hosted the Open Championship in 1999. Ironically he earned more attention from playing as a 3rd Round marker, where he recorded a 76, than he had during his entire time as a Tour player. His time at Carnoustie came to a sad end when he was sacked in January 2001 for drunken behaviour at a Christmas party the previous month, albeit he successfully claimed for unfair dismissal at an industrial tribunal in Dundee in September 2002. 

Willie Milne’s Current LinkedIn Profile Photo

Willie moved to Germany in 2004, initially working at Olching G.C. near Munich for five years before representing Golfglobal Ltd as a consultant until the time of his sudden death.

Addition Sources: The PGA Obituary


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

148. Stuart Murray Has Died Aged 89

24th February 2023

Stuart William Thomas Murray died on 23rd January 2023 at the age of 89 following a short illness.

Murray was born in Paisley, Scotland on 10th November 1933, the middle of three brothers, and learned to play golf at the nearby Elderslie Golf Club. By the time he was 18 he had already won the club championship and played county golf.

He earned the nickname ‘The Sheriff’ from his peers due to a distinctive “cowboy-like” rolling gait, the result of a broken leg playing football during National Service, and his consistently strong play in the amateur game in the 1950s and early ‘60s.

Murray was very much a part-time golfer working for John Letters, the golf club manufacturer, after he finished school.

He represented Scotland in the Home Internationals five years running (1959-63) and picked up the prestigious West of Scotland Championship, Tennant Cup and the Edward Trophy titles in his amateur career.

Stuart successfully represented GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy, contributing to wins in against Europe in France in 1958 and Sweden in 1962.

Having lost in the Final the year before he won the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1962 defeating Ronnie Shade 2&1 in the final at Muirfield. Shade would go onto win this Championship in each of the next five years.

Stuart Murray is carried off Muirfield after winning the Scottish Amateur 

The victory helped earn Stuart selection for the 1963 GB&I Walker Cup team. 

USA won the match at Turnberry by 12-8 but Stuart made a positive contribution, particularly on the opening day when it rained heavily. Paired with Michael Bonallack in the Foursomes they beat Billy Joe Patton and Richard Sikes by 4&3. Murray then beat Deane Beman 3&1 in the opening game of the afternoon Singles. On a drier Day 2 the same foursomes pairings played again and this time the Americans prevailed by 1 Hole. Murray then lost to Patton in the Day 2 Singles by 3&2.  

Approaching 30 years old Stuart turned professional a few months after the Walker Cup pushed to a degree by changes in the amateur status rules. For 37 years he was attached to the Northamptonshire (1963-72) and Hendon (1972-2000) Golf Clubs in England. During this time he became a highly sought after teacher.

In early 1964 he received an invitation from Bobby Jones to  play in that year’s Masters. “It was a huge surprise at the time,” Stuart reflected later. “Bobby Jones was a hero. Everybody of my era was brought up with the great Jones. I never thought I’d get a letter from him inviting me to the Masters. I knew right away I wouldn’t go. I’d just a bought a house and it was a hell of a long trip in those days. Goodness knows how much the flight would have cost.….and I may have had to go by boat anyway. It’s the biggest regret I have in golf that I never got to go.”

Murray combined his club duties with attempts to qualify for elite level tournaments and, from 1972 onwards despite entering his 40’s, events on the newly created European Tour. He also played regularly in the Senior PGA Professional Championship and for a few years the PGA Super 60s which started in the early 1990’s. 

Stuart was predeceased by his wife Phyllis, who he married in 1957, and is survived by his sons, Iain and Alastair.

Additional Sources: The PGA Obituary, Jack Davidson’s Obituary in The Scotsman and Nick Rodger’s Obituary in The Herald 


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

126. The 2021 R&A Men’s Home Internationals Are To Be Played In April

17th December 2020

The R&A have announced that the Men’s Home Internationals will now be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. in Scotland on 14-16 April 2021.

The decision has been made to assist Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) preparations for the Walker Cup match against USA on 8-9 May 2021.

It now seems likely that the GB&I team will be selected immediately following the tournament and announced publically on Monday 19th April.

Royal Dornoch G.C. Championship Course (Photo: Royal Dornoch G.C.)

The R&A will be running the Men’s Home Internationals for the first time next year. They will be taking over from the four home golf unions that participate and have hosted it in turn since 1932.

The 2020 Home Internationals were scheduled to be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. on 9-11 September but were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 event was due to be played at Hankley Common G.C. in England on 8-10 September but it appears they will now have to wait until 2022 for their turn.

The Home Internationals are contested by 11-man teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the four countries playing each other over three successive days. Each match involves 5 foursomes and 10 singles, all played over 18 holes.

Ireland were champions four times between 2014-17 with England winning the title in 2018 and 2019.

It’s mid-September date in the amateur calendar has always been a surprise given it’s prestige and excellent basis for GB&I team selection. Mid-June to mid-August would be the ideal time for the Home Internationals to be staged as this would allow most of our U.S. college players to also participate.

It is worth noting that 7 of the recently announced 15 man 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Squad are studying in the United States. Their Spring seasons will be heading towards their NCAA Championship climax so these players won’t be able to participate in these ‘trials’.

An informal GB&I squad gathering will probably take place around the Jones Cup Invitational which is been played between 4-7 February 2021 and may involve a trip to Seminole GC.

The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Ayrshire Golf Blog)


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

74. Ireland Win The 2017 Men’s Home Internationals

18th August 2017

The Men’s Home Internationals came to a dramatic conclusion this afternoon at Moortown Golf Club in Leeds.

The Raymond Trophy was won by IRELAND. They drew the deciding match with ENGLAND 7.5 – 7.5 but in doing so pipped the home nation by a half point in total match points earned, 26.5 against 26.0.

Ireland (Photo: Leaderboard Photography) 

This was Ireland’s fourth consecutive victory in the event, a national record for them in the long history of this competition.

For the second year running Colm CAMPBELL found himself in the all important  final Singles game. Once again he delivered. His half, having been 5 Down after 6 holes, against Jake BURNAGE pushed Ireland up to 7.5 points which they had known at the start of play would be enough for them to secure the title. 

Here is the final Points Table with the ‘Countback’ information at the bottom: –

Points Table (Photo: England Golf Event Microsite)

Click here to view the detailed – Men’s Home Internationals Results

With the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup squad due to be announced on Monday this was the final opportunity for many of our players to stake their claim.

Here is my Individual Performance analysis which is based on the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) approach to Team events: –

Clearly the big winners were Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) and Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) who certainly did themselves no harm with very strong individual performances.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

65. England Win Silver At The European Men’s Amateur Team Championship

16th July 2017

The European Men’s Amateur Team Championship concluded yesterday at the Diamond CC in Austria. Spain were victorious beating England 4-3 in the Final.

ENGLAND came 2nd, SCOTLAND 5th, IRELAND 7th and WALES 16th.

So what does this mean from a Walker Cup perspective ?

Here’s my assessment of the individual performances of the 24 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players who were competing. I have tried to take into account stroke play qualifying scores, match play results, singles or foursomes games played and the quality of the opposition faced.

For more information on this event please take a look at my GolfBible article – European Men’s Amateur Team Championship – 2017 Preview, Results & Reports (15/07/17)

There are now just 36 days until the GB&I team is announced, assuming this will take place on 21st August, the day after the US Amateur finishes.

In conclusion events in Austria largely confirmed my initial thoughts on our team selection with most of the players previously listed doing well.

Unfortunately those on the periphery, save for Scott GREGORY, largely failed to take advantage of the opportunity this Championship gave them to state their cases more forcibly. England’s Gian-Marco PETROZZI also showed that his Walker Cup race may not yet be run with two singles wins.

Jack SINGH BRAR chose to make himself unavailable for England last week, preferring to travel to New York to try and qualify for the US Amateur. A potentially high risk strategy but one that in the end paid off. He won the qualifier at Paramount CC by 4 shots with two rounds of 66. Results

So if I had to pick the GB&I Walker Cup team today this is who I would go for (in order): –

1. Matthew JORDAN (ENG)
2. Connor SYME (SCO)
5. Craig HOWIE (SCO)
7. Alfie PLANT (ENG)
8. Harry ELLIS (ENG) *
9. David BOOTE (WAL)
10. Paul MCBRIDE (IRE)

* Selection supposedly confirmed following Amateur Championship win.

I think the first eight, probably nine, in the above list are increasingly secure based on 2017 results and current form. With there being four each from both England and Scotland one would hope foursomes pairings could be found fairly easily amongst them too.

David BOOTE continues to be a consistent performer with a number of solid results this season. When you add in his four years experience of playing in the US at Stanford – let’s not forget the 2017 match is an AWAY one – you have to say his exclusion from our 2017 team would be a big surprise. With Jack DAVIDSON having lost a bit of form in recent weeks the potential all Welsh foursomes partnership appears to be drifting away from his case though. Nevertheless I am sure there will be a list of team mates delighted to have him as their partner in Los Angeles.

Paul MCBRIDE qualified well in Austria (-3 / Tied 2nd) but will have been disappointed to lose all three of his singles games, albeit these were all tight affairs – two were by 1 hole and the other on the 19th. McBride has played very well since returning home from the US and what gives him the edge for me at the moment is his three years of US College experience. McBride will be a Senior at Wake Forest next Autumn. Interestingly one of his teammates, Will Zalatoris, has a good chances of making the US team too. It was also interesting to read this morning that McBride has been granted a place in the European Tour’s Porsche European Open in Hamburg in two week’s time. If he can make the cut there then that would certainly be a huge boost to his chances.

Whilst by no means the primary concern, which is of course selecting the best team to win, BOOTE and McBRIDE also enable a full house to be delivered, i.e. a representative from all four of the GB&I nations to be included. This hasn’t happened that often in recent years but would no doubt be beneficial for the profile of the match on our side of the Atlantic.

After this week it is probably Scott GREGORY now, rather than Jack DAVIDSON, Robin DAWSON or John Ross GALBRAITH, who is pushing hardest for inclusion. Whilst he was only the tied 10th best GB&I stroke play qualifier Scott once again showed what a tough match player he is in the later stages.

So what events are left that can move the GB&I Walker Cup dial over the next four weeks ?

First up are the closed English, Scottish and Welsh Amateur Championships which are all being played at the start of August. The Irish Amateur continues to be played in late August, starting this year on 22nd. In a Walker Cup year this is a huge scheduling error and one that could prove costly in a tight selection race, particularly as things stand for Paul MCBRIDE. *

*The South of Ireland Championship starts on 26th July and whilst not as prestigious as the Irish Amateur in fact may be more important this year.

The US Amateur (14-20 August) is of course the big one but I anticipate that will have a relatively limited GB&I field with no more than 8 of our players competing.

The Men’s Home Internationals (16-18 August) will also be an important event but as it is scheduled against the US Amateur some of it’s value to the selectors will inevitably be lost.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

35. Look Who’s In The 2016/17 Home Nation Squads

4th December 2016

Over the last few weeks each of the home nations has announced their 2016/17 national men’s squads.

England have selected 16 players, Ireland 24, Scotland 11 and Wales 7.

Given that these 58 players will receive most of the funding and best coaching it is very likely that the majority of our 2017 Walker Cup squad will come from within their ranks.

Of course a number of high quality players are playing in the US College system and in some cases they have not been selected by their national unions. Sam Horsfield, David Wicks, Billy McKenzie and Euan Walker fall into this group.

Here is the complete list of 58 selections (with rankings as at 4th December): –England
Dan Brown 22 (Masham) – SPWAR 167 / WAGR 124
Scott Gregory 22 (Corhampton) – SPWAR 49 / WAGR 6
Harry Hall 19 (West Cornwall) – SPWAR 243 / WAGR 242
Josh Hilleard 21 (Farrington Park) – SPWAR 189 / WAGR 505
Bradley Moore 19 (Keddleston Park) – SPWAR 174 / WAGR 46
Marco Penge 18 (Golf at Goodwood) – SPWAR 122 / WAGR 81
Alfie Plant 24 (Sundridge Park) – SPWAR 48 / WAGR 48
Sean Towndrow 25 (Southport & Ainsdale) – SPWAR 1,122 / WAGR 746

England A
George Bloor 21 (Cavendish) – SPWAR 260 / WAGR 633
Jake Burnage 21 (Saunton) – SPWAR 434 / WAGR 591
Tom Gandy 24 (Rowany) – SPWAR 599 / WAGR 550
Matthew Jordan 20 (Royal Liverpool) – SPWAR 472 / WAGR 440
Josh McMahon 21 (Wallasey) – SPWAR 461/ WAGR 901
Gian-Marco Petrozzi 19 (Trentham) – SPWAR 221 / WAGR 307
Will Whiteoak 22 (Shipley) – SPWAR 982 / WAGR 770
Jack Yule 22 (Middleton Hall) – SPWAR 242 / WAGR 273

Ireland – National Panel
Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) – SPWAR 107 / WAGR 148
Robin Dawson (Tremor) – SPWAR 164 / WAGR 326
Colin Fairweather (Knock) – SPWAR 671 / WAGR 365
John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) – SPWAR 112 / WAGR 208
Alex Gleeson (Castle) – SPWAR 147 / WAGR 156
Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) – SPWAR 103 / WAGR 58
Rowan Lester (Hermitage) – SPWAR 523 / WAGR 518
Paul McBride (The Island) – SPWAR 79 / WAGR 127
Tiarnán McLarnon (Massereene) – SPWAR 409 / WAGR 679
Conor O’Rourke (Naas) – SPWAR 238 / WAGR 235
Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) – SPWAR 568 / WAGR 298
Jonathan Yates (Naas) – SPWAR 729/ WAGR 486
Sean Flanagan (County Sligo) – SPWAR 419 / WAGR 797
Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) – SPWAR 486 / WAGR 911
Daniel Holland (Castle) – SPWAR 1,053 / WAGR 783
Mark Power (Kilkenny) – SPWAR 827 / WAGR 2,137
Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) – SPWAR 581 / WAGR 615

Ireland – Development Panel
Cathal Butler (Kinsale) – SPWAR 2,059 / WAGR 1,668
Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) – SPWAR 1,229 / WAGR 1,577
Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu) – SPWAR 1,653 / WAGR 1,699
Ronan Mullarney (Galway) – SPWAR 470 / WAGR 754
John Murphy (Kinsale) – SPWAR 1,085 / WAGR 1,510
Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) – SPWAR 741 / WAGR 418
Jake Whelan (Newlands) – SPWAR 671 / WAGR 2,221

Matthew Clark 7/11/81 (Kilmacolm) – SPWAR 356 / WAGR 352
Calum Fyfe 28/05/97 (Cawder) – SPWAR 119 / WAGR 266
Craig Howie 27/08/94 (Peebles) – SPWAR 73 / WAGR 65
Barry Hume 30/01/82 (Haggs Castle) – SPWAR 216 / WAGR 102
Liam Johnston 01/01/93 (Dumfries & County) – SPWAR 127 / WAGR 212
Robert MacIntyre 03/08/96 (Glencruitten) – SPWAR 23 / WAGR 11
Graeme Robertson 20/06/88 (Glenbervie) – SPWAR 416 / WAGR 100
Euan McIntosh 24/02/69 (Turnhouse) – SPWAR 353 / WAGR 87
Craig Ross 08/02/93 (Kirkhill) – SPWAR 81 / WAGR 47
Sandy Scott 28/06/88 (Nairn) – SPWAR 106 / WAGR 149
Connor Syme 11/07/95 (Drumoig) – SPWAR 14 / WAGR 21

Ben Chamberlain 18 (Padeswood and Buckley) – SPWAR 1,321 / WAGR 883
Jack Davidson 18 (Llanwern) – SPWAR 568 / WAGR 407
Joshua Davies 19 (Celtic Manor) – SPWAR 370 / WAGR 449
Owen Edwards 23 (Llanwern) – SPWAR 309 / WAGR 182
Evan Griffith 21 (Conwy) – SPWAR 830/ WAGR 377
David Boote 22 (Walton Heath) – SPWAR 21 / WAGR 28
Tom Williams 18 (Wrexham) – SPWAR 764 / WAGR 523


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

15. The 2016 European Men’s Amateur Team Championships

9th July 2016

The European Men’s Amateur Team Championships finished today in France (Division 1) and Luxembourg (Division 2).

These are the events that highlight a player’s ability to compete at the highest level and help firm up foursome pairings for selectors down the line.

Scotland retained their European Team title and in particular Connor SYME, Craig HOWIE, Robert MACINTYRE and Grant FORREST have enhanced their already strong reputations further.

Ireland‘s Stuart GREHAN and Jack HUME qualified strongly and performed well in the match play stage as the their team finished a creditable 6th.

There was little to cheer for England who finished a disappointing 13th. Alfie PLANT did however perform well himself.

Wales finished 2nd in Division 2 but David BOOTE won the stroke play qualifier and all four of his match play games.

All in all, save for Craig HOWIE, who is really applying pressure on the R&A selectors (and me), I haven’t seen anything to suggest I need to alter my St. Andrews Trophy team selection which I published here a few days ago.

Here is my GB&I Player Performance Analysis covering these two events.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 18.01.22


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.