NIGEL HIRST is celebrating 40 years as a professional at Dewsbury District Golf Club.
Known as one of the region’s most endearing professionals, Hirst has been presented with an engraved cut glass memento and a caricature at an event to mark the occasion.
Hirst, who lives down the road from his beloved golf club in Hopton, began his career as assistant pro at Woodsome Hall and later went on to become the country’s youngest club professional at Halifax Ogden.
Although he is now 61, Hirst is understandably proud that he can still mix it with the younger players on the course.
Last year Hirst won the Huddersfield Golf Alliance’s Page Trophy, beating his assistant and latest protege James Ward into second place.
“I was really proud of myself. It was a 36-hole event and my wife asked if I was really up to two rounds in one day at Crosland Heath,” said Hirst.
“I first won the event in 1972 so to beat some good young guys to pick up the title 43 years on was a bit special.
“It was a big thing for me to know that I can still compete at that level. I’m still playing and practising as much as possible.”
Unlike some professionals, Hirst, who was captain of the Yorkshire Professional Golfers Association in 1989 and president in 1991, is always keen to get out and play.
He added: “The playing side has always been very important to my business as I have met a lot of people over the years and built up some very loyal customers.”
And 40 years on Hirst’s enthusiasm for the game and his job remains as great as ever.
“It will be more of the same for me for a few years more hopefully and I will still be working as hard as ever and looking after my customers,” he added.
“I absolutely still have the enthusiasm for the job. Things are always changing and you have to stay ahead of the game.”
One of Hirst’s proudest achievements involved the completion of Dewsbury’s new clubhouse.
He instrumental in pushing for the project, which was built at a cost of £750,000 back in 2002, but Hirst believes the money was well spent.
The Dewsbury pro believes the state of the art clubhouse was the biggest and most important change during his tenure as professional at Dewsbury.
“The new clubhouse really put the club on the map and allowed us to be one of the first golf clubs to really tap in to the non-golf market,” said Hirst
“With two bars on two floors we can really maximise the revenue in the clubhouse whilst still keeping our members happy.
“A more traditional clubhouse with just one bar full of golfers makes it difficult to attract the corporate business that is out there, and we are always busy with a range of functions which have put us in a healthy position and allowed us to re-invest in the course and facilities.
“This additional source of income has helped the club ride out the challenging times golf as a sport has endured over the past few years.”