Alex Herd gives me a sharp lesson

Although not a multiple winner of the James Braid, Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor class, the Scottish pro Alex ‘Sandy’ Herd has a remarkable record in the Open Championship.

Left to right Alex ‘Sandy’ Herd, J.H. Taylor, J.B. Batley, Harry Vardon

He won it in 1902 but first appeared in the top 5 finishers in 1892 and was a close contender right through to 1920, when he was runner-up to George Duncan at Deal in Kent.

When I was 18 (in 1934) and already hitting the ball a long way, I was drawn to play with Alex Herd at a tournament at Moor Park close to London, where he was the resident pro. We played on the short course.

Herd was a short, chubby, quietly spoken man, who was then 67 years old. He was a nice man to play with and very pleasant to me as a young pro just starting out on the circuit.

I was keen to impress him and boomed my drives down the fairway. On the medium length holes, I would be taking a niblick (9 iron) for my second shot while he would be hitting a brassie (2 wood).

We would walk on to the green and every time it seemed that I had to putt first. He was putting the ball closer to the flag than I was.

After several holes of this, I was getting fed up. Although I went round in 71, Herd was 67 for the round and finished the tournament in 280.

He taught me a lesson I would not forget. I would have to sharpen up my short game if I was going to get anywhere. It was not enough just to hit the ball out of sight.

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