Belfast Telegraph

Honour for golf veteran Tom Dickson (97) who predicted rise of clubmate Darren Clarke

Tom Dickson in his younger days
Tom Dickson in his younger days
(From left) Kieran Hagan (captain), Anne Quinn (lady captain), Tom, Lorraine Wilson (president) and Tim Dickson

By Mark McConville

A 97-year-old is thought to be the longest serving member of any golf club in Ireland.

Tom Dickson has been granted honorary life membership of Dungannon Golf Club after an association spanning more than 90 years.

He is the longest serving member both there and at Royal Portrush.

Mr Dickson was captain of Dungannon's Towns Cup team when a young Darren Clarke - who he was "convinced" would be a champion one day - emerged.

Speaking at the presentation, his son Tim said his father spotted Clarke's potential "long before anyone else" and hailed the role golf had played in his life.

He added: "My father has certainly been an excellent golfer and an opponent that anyone here would have been happy to take the money off.

"His lowest handicap, I think, was six, and while he was not what would now be called a pot hunter, he won the Tyrone Cup and was runner-up in the Aughnacloy Putter.

"Nothing has given dad more pleasure over the years than playing his regular Saturday and midweek four-balls at Dungannon with friends or simply popping out for a few holes with my mother Rosemary.

"He taught me how to play on the course when there were only nine holes - and a family visit to Dungannon for me over the years was never complete without a round with him here."

Tom served as captain in 1959 and as president from 1979 until 1983, and also in the centenary year of 1990. He was a trustee for over 40 years and was a member of the winning Roberts Cup team in 1965, while his late wife Rosemary was lady captain in 1958 and lady president from 1980 to 1983.

Rosemary was also the first lady to become a full member in both Dungannon and Royal Portrush.

Over the years the Dickson family has held the position of president or lady president for more than 40 of Dungannon Golf Club's 129 years in existence.

His great-grandfather James Dickson was a founder member in 1890 when he also represented the club in a meeting that founded the Golfing Union of Ireland - the oldest in the world.

The best golfer in the family was Thomas Dickson, a brother of James, who was a member of Dungannon and Royal County Down.

He won the first Irish Close Championship at Portrush in 1893, was responsible for the building of the nine-hole course at Banbridge, and his red golf jacket is a feature of the display of golf memorabilia at Royal County Down today.

Major TCH Dickson, Tom's father, was an excellent two-handicap golfer, who taught and encouraged his son.

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