GOLFERS officially waved goodbye last week to the man generally acknowledged as the secret weapon of the Carnoustie links.
John Philp MBE retired from his position as links superintendent on Friday and the occasion was marked by a gathering of friends and colleagues at the 11th hole, which was named in his honour.
The crowd braved the infrequent showers with a glass of something to toast John into his well-earned retirement after 27 years of dedicated service to the Carnoustie golf links.
After the naming ceremony, Carnoustie club professional Colin Sinclair presented John with a driver with which he proceeded to become the first person to tee off from that hole.
A bouquet of flowers was presented to Helen Philp by Pat Sawers on behalf of the Golf Links Management Committee.
Chairman of the Carnoustie Golf Links Committee Gordon Wilson said: “I think everybody knows how important John has been for Carnoustie and bringing The Open back here.
“There was a lot of talk about hotels, access and improved facilities, but the most important thing was the condition of the golf course. He is the man who secured that.”
The 11th hole is a 383 yard par four. He added: “The ladies coming back this afternoon will be playing the John Philp hole for the first time in a matchplay competition.”
During his speech at the 11th hole John thanked many people including his mentor and greenkeeping legend Walter Woods who was present and the late Dalhousie Golf Club captain Jock Calder, who played a leading role in bringing The Open back to Carnoustie.
He also highlighted the role played by the links staff. John said: “I accept this tremendous honour on behalf of everybody on my team, because at the end of the day it is a team effort, and I am just a team leader.
“That is what has made it all possible, along with the investment of the management committee over the years.”
He was a spectator during the 1968 Open at Carnoustie, and explained he had no idea where his love of golf would lead him. He said: “Little did I know when I came here in 1968 to the Open Championship to watch Gary Player in the final round that I would end up here.
“It’s been a great privilege and pleasure working at Carnoustie, just as I did at St Andrews.
“I have a great many happy memories from my career and a lot of them are from here in Carnoustie.”
Colin McLeod, golf services manager at Carnoustie Golf Links, said: “This is a rare thing in golf and even rarer on an Open Championship course.
“The last renaming of a hole on the course was in 2003, which marked 50 years since Ben Hogan won the Open Championship at Carnoustie.”
John’s successor has been named as Sandy Reid, who has been head greenkeeper on the Championship Course for the last seven years.
l On our website http://www.guideandgazette.co.uk/ is a video of John teeing off for the first time on the newly dedicated John Philp hole.