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‘Mr Golf at Gleneagles’ passes away


Tributes have been paid to Ian Marchbank, who was “Mr Golf at Gleneagles” for more than 30 years, after he passed away just short of his 88th birthday.
After serving his National Service in the RAF, Marchbank started his career in golf as an Assistant PGA Pro to Jimmy McLeod at Hayston on the outskirts of Glasgow.
He then moved to Gleneagles to work under Jack McLean in 1952, staying there for six years before becoming the Head PGA Professional at Turnberry in 1958.
At that time, Turnberry and Gleneagles were both owned by British Transport Hotels and, following the death of McLean in 1962, he moved back to the Perthshire resort to take over as Head PGA Professional.
It was his dream job and, from the old pro shop overlooking the first tee on the King’s Course, Marchbank welcomed everyone with the warmest of smiles.
He remained associated with the resort until his retiral at the age of 65 in 1996 and took great pride in the Ryder Cup being staged there in 2014.
He is credited with pitching the idea of bringing one of the game’s biggest events to Gleneagles before hotel management picked up the ball and ran with it.
“Gleneagles is perfection and I couldn’t have had a better life,” Marchbank once said. “It was wonderful working there for so long.”
As he did, Marchbank golfed with Prime Ministers and Presidents, film stars and Royalty, the list including President Dwight Eisenhower, Sean Connery and Bing Crosby.
Marchbank’s three sons followed in his footsteps by having connections with Gleneagles. Brian, the oldest of the trio, was attached to the resort when he was on the European Tour; Billy took over from his dad as Head PGA Pro and Graeme was the Director of Golf when it was owned by Diageo.
“Dad taught us a lot of things, including having respect for other people, that don’t just happen,” said Brian. “He was the face of golf at Gleneagles for a long time and just loved meeting and greeting people.
“He spent a lot of time with his six grandchildren after retiring and will be sadly missed by a lot of people.”
In a post on Twitter, Gleneagles Hotel said Marchbank had “helped to put our three courses on the map” and described him as a “highly-respected figure in the industry” and a “key part of our history”.
His death has also been met with sadness at Auchterarder Golf Club, where he designed the “new nine”, as it is still known more than 30 years on.
The funeral is on Thursday, October 3 at Perth Crematorium at 12.30pm.