Geoff Clay – (Tonbridge)

/Geoff Clay – (Tonbridge)

A G CLAY – Tonbridge

President – 2011 to 2013

It is sad to announce that Geoff Clay died on 30th December 2022.

Geoff was an outstanding figure in the Halford Hewitt and was our President from 2011 to 2013.  He represented Tonbridge from 1963 to 2014, playing in 186 matches, winning 124 and drawing 14.  His was an outstanding record, both in terms of matches played, where he is equal with Jeremy Lowe (Malvern) as the two players who have played most games, but also in terms of the ratio of wins, during a period before “statistics” became so popular and players were far more willing to agree to halve a game and head to the bar once the overall result was known.  During this time Geoff played in 7 winning Hewitt sides, so he was selected on merit by one of the strongest teams in the competition.  In a Tonbridge side that was considered ruthless, opponents sometimes failed to spot that in Geoff they had drawn the most ruthless of the lot.  The problem was that after a few holes watching his economical swing which contained hardly any room for error, not only did you know he was going to beat you, but he was so likeable that you really didn’t mind.

As President of the Society, Geoff’s quiet authority and calm presence demanded respect from all around him.  Even when a school wasn’t entirely sure he had given a correct ruling going down the 20th hole in the Final, his obvious humanity and gentle sense of humour ensured that it all worked out amicably in the end.  He was in the old-fashioned sense of the word a “gentleman”.

As an administrator outside of the Hewitt, he was a member of the R & A from 1994, served on the Rules of Golf Committee (1998-2002), Championship Committee (2002-2006) and Amateur Status Committee (2006-2010).  Shortly after the latter, we established that the market price for a spot in one of the Hewitt teams was £34,000, when a player was prepared to forfeit a car he had “won” for a hole in one if it meant that he would become a professional and therefore ineligible for the Hewitt.  To be clear, this was not one of the stronger teams so the value of a spot in the Tonbridge team would have been valued much more highly.  Sadly, once the player’s wife discovered his dilemma, she provided clarity and so capitalism prevailed over the romance of the Hewitt.

A memorial service for Geoff will be held at Minchinhampton Parish Church, Bell Lane, Minchinhampton, Stroud, GL6 9BP, on Thursday 2nd February 2023, at 11.00 a.m., and thereafter at Minchinhampton Golf Club, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 9BE.

In the meantime, those of us who were privileged to know Geoff will give thanks for the memories and the good times we had with him.

N D Owen

Hon Secretary – PSGS