BCal's Golfing Lions
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Following a request for information on the Golfing Lions, quite a bit came in and I also found some in various newspapers from back in the day. So I am pleased to bring you what we have and my thanks to all who replied with information, it has all been woven in below. Though any more information is always appreciated.
The golf societies have their routes certainly as far back as BUA, and possibly further, but through BUA, Cale//BUA and into BCal golf was a popular society.
With the rise in golf's popularity around the world, BCal in contract with Golf Management Ltd, set up the Golding Lions of British Caledonian Airways, known as BCal's Golfling Lions.
A three-year contract was signed in 1973....and here is a photo of that team from 1973 and also the press words to announce the promotional tour.
A team of 12 leading contract professionals will this year parade as the “Golfing Lions of British Caledonian Airways” when they compete on the world tournament circuit. This follows the signing of a three-year promotional agreement between BCal and Derick Pillage of Golf Management Limited.
Under the terms of the agreement, the 12 leading golfers in the 20-strong Pillage stable will compete in worldwide tournaments as “British Caledonian Golfing Lions”.
The “Lions” will wear their own distinctive apparel when participating in tournaments. This will include tartan slacks in a selection of BCal designs and white shirts. The “Lions” will play in tournaments this year in the Far East, Australia, Europe, the United States, South America and Africa.
Acting as consultants to British Caledonian will be international golfers Max Faulkner, Dai Rees, Jim Jamieson, Eric Brown and Christy O’Connor senior. They will give clinics and teach-ins on the tournament circuit. BCal Marketing Director Mr Ian Ritchie said “We are pleased to extend our promotional with Golf Management and to have such a first class group of professional golfers carrying the colours of British Caledonian”.
The BCal Golfing Lions team would constantly evolve over the years as the agreement stated that the top 12 players were required from the 20 under Derick's Golf Management stable.
Other professional players included Sam Torrance, Carl Mason, David Ingram, Mike Smith, Ewan Murray, David Llewellan, Norman Wood, Steve Martin, Mike Millar, Ronnie Shade, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Brian Huggett, Gordon Brand and Bernard Gallagher; some of which would go on to be household names.
Below we have some more coverage of the Golfing Lions
Pictured here before departing to The Gambia are: Malcolm Gregson, Brian Barnes, Tommy Horton and Chris Gilbert, BCal’s Senior Publicity Executive, who saw them off.
Three top golfers flew out by BCal service to The Gambia to take part in a special golf programme coinciding with the country’s tenth anniversary of Independence. The group included Tommy Horton, who recently won the Tobago Open, beating Tony Jacklin, Brian Barnes - who was third in the sane event and Malcolm Gregson.
They took part in The Gambia International Pro-Am Tournament an 15th February and played in several competitions in which the President of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Jawara, also took part.
The golfers and BCal’s Golf Consultant Derick Pillage were guests at a State dinner following the Pro-Am.
The invitation to BCal to arrange a golf tournament as part of the country’s celebrations followed a meeting between Sir Dawda and the airlines’ Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr Adam Thomson.
The Golfing Lions Teams would often include BCal staff members and many remember playing in the tournaments over the years alongside the professionals.
The winning line up:
Members of the winning team were presented with prizes. From left to right: David Brooksbank (GM BCal Cargo), Dick Dardie (Atlas), Colin Smith (Financial Director BCal), Ewan Murray (BCal Lion), Peter Carvill (Viking), Peter Barrie and Pauline Jones (BCal Cargo) .
Cargo Agents from Heathrow and Gatwick were among those who took part in a BCal Cargo Pro-Am golf tournament at the RAC Club at Epsom. Sixteen teams, comprising of one professional and three amateurs played eighteen holes of the down land course for the first prize, second and third prizes of attractive tartan shields.
The event was won by a team led by BCal Golfing Lions Captain, Ewan Murray and included Peter Cavill from Viking Air Freight; Dick Dardie from Atlas Air and Peter Barrie from BCal Cargo, with a net score of 62. In second place on 65 were Pro Roger Fiddler, Viv Morgan of Morgan Air Freight, Capt. W Biggs (Captain of the RAC Club) and John Warren from BCal. The team led by Pro Norman Wood comprising Colin Young, Pandair-Manchester, Henry Rowe - Kingsley Aviation and Philip de Looper from Pan Aircraft at Gatwick, finished in third place.
The Golfing Lions in Argentina - 1978 - by Philip Prince
Philip was a member of the Buenos Aires sales staff for the last seven years of BCal flying to Argentina (1978-1985) and he recalls the Golfing Lions visits to Argentina.
One morning Mr. Alfredo Healy General Manager for Argentina called me in to his office to explain and inform me that the company contracted a group of young and upcoming professional golfers playing in Europe known as the BCAL Golfing Lions. Head office were interested to check out the possibility for them to come out to play in Argentina and also Chile. As a keen golfer I was then instructed to investigate what the possibilities were to send them out.
Today he is the President of the Argentina Golf Association (AGA), but in those days as a new young committee member he arranged for me to attend one of Associations weekly evening meetings to explain what the BCAL Lions were all about and to persuade the then President to have them playing in Argentina. If not mistaken all this occurred only month prior to the 1978 Argentine Open.
The Association had no further budget for this event. As done traditionally they had spent good money contracting a relevant player of the time. I am not sure if for that year it was Tom Watson or Tom Weinskopf. Nevertheless although BCAL flew them out they could not cover the remaining players expenses.
After a few more meetings with the AGA they confirmed that they would cover the hotel expenses and the shuttle bus transfer between the hotel and the golf course. We were granted permission to advertise with large banners that we placed on the 1st tee, 10th and 18th green where the larger public stands were positioned. And we also could invite nine clients to play the pro-am.
The Lions played the Argentine Open twice. In 1978 The first visit of young - still not famous - British golfers included: Mike Ingles, Martin Roxon, Bill Reid, Sam Cox, Steve Martin, Sandy Lyle, and Sam Torrance, (Runner up of that years Open). Many of these shortly became famous and did not return for a second time.
On the second occasion, one of BCal's guests playing in the Pro-Am had to cancel on the day and I took his place and played with Mike Miller. Below we have some photos from Philip from the 2nd Golfing Lions trip to Argentina.
1982 is the last story / report I can find on the BCal Golfing Lions, the archive is not exhaustive.......maybe someone knows when it all ended?
Also, during the mid 1970's Derick Pillage had a column, Around the Green, in the company newspaper and I have found three of his monthly columns and these are reproduced below. The references are of course accurate to the era when Derick wrote them. The only embelishment is I have made is to highlight the names of the BCal Golfing Lions so their names can be seen.
The 1976 Safari Golf Tour by Derick Pillage BCal's Golf Consultant. (Report from May 1976)
The 1976 Safari Golf Tour has now finished. For many British Gold professionals - including the British Caledonian Golfing Lions - the tour provides a useful starting-block to the year’s packed calendar of golf events. The Lions put up a good performance in Africa, but unfortunately the major titles remained out of their grasp.
In Nigeria the Lions captured a second place while three Lions finished in the top ten. In the Cock of the North tournament in Zambia a third place was out best while four Lions took places in the top ten. At Ndola four Lions finished in the top ten, Tommy Horton taking second place. At the Zambian Open in Lusaka, Sam Torrance, was hoping to win the title for the second year running. Brian Barnes was hoping to do well too, he was runner up to Sam last year. But it was not to be. Tommy Horton was the highest placed Lion taking fourth place while four other Lions finished in the top fifteen.
Malcolm Gregson won The Gambian and Liberian Opens, David Ingram and Brian Barnes won three individual pro-am competitions between them in Zambia and Carl Mason won the Port Harcourt Open in Nigeria.
I had not been to Zambia for five year and it was a real pleasure to see again the wonderful golf courses this country has to offer. It was nice to renew my acquaintance with David Phiri, President of the Lusaka Golf Club. Last time we met he kept the party amused by his descriptions of Oxford. Representing Gloucester he beat a young man representing Millfield called Brian Barnes. He now goes around telling everybody that he must be the best golfer in the world because HE beat the man who as beaten the great Jack Nicklaus twice in one day.
On the flight home from Zambia the Golfing Lions presented their President, Mr Adam Thomson, with a copper tray engraved with their signatures to commemorate the first BCal flight out of Zambia as the official British Carrier.
Each Month I like to end this column with a golf tip.
Dai Rees and Tommy Horton were saying the reason a lot of amateurs hit so many bad shots from the tees is the difficulty they find with a deep-faced driver. They would be better off using something like a three-wood. But more importantly to watch their line-up making sure too that the left shoulder is facing left of target. This will ensure you don’t block your shots.
BCal’s Golfing Lions have made a big impression during the first months of this year’s European Circuit.
by Derick Pillage BCal's Golf Consultant. (Report from June 1976).
Sam Torrance, who spent some of the winter shedding weight and body-building, led throughout the Piccadilly Medal Tournament at Coventry last month to win by two shots. Sam, 22, from Largs in Scotland, held off a strong challenge from Australian Bob Shearer to take the £6,000 first prize. Three weeks earlier he had finished third in the Portuguese Open - and in the French Open two weeks later he finished joint second. His win at Coventry shot Sam to the top of the British European Order of Merit with a 3,000 point lead over his nearest rival. The points are based on the pounds won in tournaments throughout the year. By winning over £9,000 of official money so early in the season, Sam is assured of a place in the Scotland side for the World Cup in America in November and the Professional International Championships at Gleneagles in August.
Other BCal Lions who did well included our latest signing, Martin Foster, another 22 year-old who finished third, and 21 year-old Carl Mason who finished joint ninth; Malcolm Gregson, Brian Barnes and Tommy Horton all finished joint 14th. To have five Lions in the top 15 was a marvellous achievement. In the overall Order of Merit for Great Britain and Europe at the time of writing, Sam is first, Martin Foster ninth, Hugh Baiocchi 15th, Carl Mason 23rd, and Tommy Horton and Brian Barnes joint 25th.
This year I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest to the United States Masters Tournament at Augusta, Georgia. It is the ambition of every young professional to be one of the 60 invited to participate. One Golfing Lion, Hugh Baiocchi, played in this year’s tournament, but unfortunately he did not repeat his fine performance of last year when he finished joint 12th.
Shortly after the Masters, I went to Tallahassee to watch Gary Koch, a young American golfer win his first professional tournament. Koch was in England last year as a member of the victorious American Walker Cup Team (the occasion when America’s top ten amateurs take n Great Britain’s top ten). After the match he turned professional, and to celebrate the occasion, BCal’s General Manager Cargo Sales, David Gerrard, took Gary to an old pub in the English countryside. It was there in The Star at Rusper near Gatwick that David introduced the young American star to English beer. It obviously made a big impression on him. As soon as he returned to the States he won his first professional tournament.
Each month I try to finish with a golf tip.
The medium irons seem to give a lot of trouble to handicap golfers. They are designed to give shots pinpoint accuracy. Often is the case when club golfers under-club, and to make up for their mistake, attempt to hit the ball as far as possible which usually results in the ball flying way off target. Don’t be scared to over-club a little - and with a slower full swing that vital accuracy will be obtained.
Tommy Horton - A man in form by Derick Pillage BCal's Golf Consultant. (Report from August 1976)
What a fantastic three weeks it has been for Tommy Horton. He was runner-up to fellow Golfing Lion Sam Torrance in the Martini International Golf Tournament where he won £1,750. The next day he played in the BB&A Pro-Am and picked up the first prize of £1,000. A few days later he joined a large international field in the Uniroyal Tournament and won the first prize of £4,000. Next stop was the British Open where, in illustrious company, he finished joint fifth, winning a further £3,500, following which he flew to Ireland and won the Links Tournament and another £1,000. In 21 days Tommy had won over £10,000, which hoisted him to third place in the British Order of Merit behind Sam Torrance.
Tommy is known to be one of the greatest tee to green players in the world, but like every great player he has one weak link in his game. Putting has for some time worried Tommy, and although he has tried many putters and spent hours practising, once you have missed a few four-footers when you are playing for large sums of money, it’s surprising how difficult the game becomes on the greens.
The best example of this was the great Peter Alliss who, at the end of his professional golfing days, kept saying “I am the world’s worst putter”. In the end he could not even hole three-foot putts. But Peter, as many of you will know, has become a very fine golf commentator. So there is a lesson for you all - think positive when you are putting, otherwise......
The British Open attracts around 60,000 people from all over the world. I bumped into Mathew Jacob, the head pro of the Ikoyo Golf Club, in Lagos, and also the Captain of the PGW in Nigeria. Later I met Hale Irwin, twice winner of the Piccadilly World Match Play Championship. The next person I met was the head professional at the Buchanan Golf Club, Liberia, the past captain of the Faraja Golf Club, Gambia. The list could be endless and completely fill this newspaper with people who travelled with British Caledonian to get to this year’s Open.
A very useful lesson can be learned from watching young Ballesteros at the 18th during the final round. He was faced with a difficult chip shot to the green. He had two alternatives. One was to pitch over the bunkers and hope the ball would stop by the pin while the other was to use a narrow strip of grass between the bunkers and pitch-and-run the ball up to the hole.
After a bit of thought, he decided to use the latter method, taking into account how hard the greens were and left the ball stone dead against the flag. Had he not got the ball so close, it might have cost him the difference between 2nd and 3rd prize - £2,000. A little more thought when you are faced with this sort of problem can save many a shot. It is best to use a 5 iron and play it like a putter. The loft of the club will do the work.
My thanks to Chris, Beryl, Philip, Martyn, Alan, Tony and all who helped with information
|BCal Golfing Lion Mike Miller
||Philip, Alfredo Healy & Mike Miller
||BCal Golfing Lion Mike Miller