Belfast Telegraph

Talented Royal County Down golf club pro Ernie Jones a respected gentleman of game


Excellent coach: Ernie Jones
Excellent coach: Ernie Jones

By Deric Henderson

Ernie Jones, who has died aged 87, was a former club professional at Royal County Down and Bangor at a time when the game of golf was very much old school.

He was quiet and unassuming; an excellent coach with a respectful manner and very much the gentleman, on and off the course, and whose contemporaries included the greats of Irish golf of that era - Fred Daly, Harry Bradshaw and Christy O'Connor Snr.

He was also around, this time based at the K-Club, Co Kildare - where he was born - for the generation which followed, among them John O'Leary, O'Connor's nephew Christy Jnr, Eddie Polland, David Feherty and Eamon Darcy.

Bangor's David Jones (no relation) who was also part of that group, remembered him fondly yesterday, describing him as "such a nice man... who was always helpful".

Ernie Jones was the classic clubhouse professional, but he was also a useful player, winning 11 tournaments in Ireland and England, with the last the PGA Seniors at Stratford-on-Avon in 1984 for a £3,000 first prize.

He played in the Open Championship eight times, making the cut just once in his last appearance in 1972 and was the first of four Irishman to win the Kenya Open (1971) and represented Ireland in the World Cup of Golf.

His first job was as an assistant at the Curragh Golf Club (1946) in the grounds the Irish Army training base where his father was a Company Quarter Master Sergeant in the military college, and not far from where he was born at the Families Hospital 14 years earlier.

Jones also worked at Carlow, Foxrock (Dublin) before moving to Bangor, and then Newcastle where for 17 years he epitomised courtesy and good manners as part of the fairly rigid disciplined regime which existed then at RCD.

After that he returned to the Republic to be the professional at the newly opened K-Club. It was there he was offered the position as the first player from the Republic to be captain of the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) in 1991, and among his duties was being present at the US Masters with his wife Marie.

In 2013 he presented the Curragh with his PGA Captain's blazer and other golfing memorabilia collected over his career which lasted over 60 years.

One of the highlights was refereeing the famous 1969 Ryder Cup match when Jack Nicklaus conceded a 2ft putt to Tony Jacklin on the 18th green to leave the final outcome all square at 16-16.

Belfast Telegraph


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