The longest-serving PGA golf professional in the Lothians – and perhaps even in Scotland – has closed the door of his shop for the last time.
Alan Pate spent 42 years as the head pro at Ratho Park, where he was also an assistant for four years before that.
“I’ve spent all my working life here apart from a year through at Dullatur,” he said, adding with a smile: “It’s been a long time.”
Pate hails from just outside Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his life after moving through with his parents.
“I would class myself as a local guy,” he added, having become part of the fabric at Ratho Park, one of the most popular clubs in the Edinburgh area.
“I was a member at Dalmahoy, the old Dalmahoy before it became a country club, in the 60s and 70s.
“In my younger days there, David Ingram was obviously a big influence on me and my game. Also Alex Fox before him. He was the pro in the 60s and I think David took over from him in 1971.”
Pate’s own step up across the A71 came seven years later, when his boss, Maurice Pollock, moved down south to Worthing Golf Club.
The life of a club pro has changed quite a bit over the past 40 years, especially with members having so many options these days when it comes to buying equipment and clothing.
But Pate said: “I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it. What a wonderful place to come to work. I’ve seen a lot of people come through my door over the years and, the club side of it – looking after the members and visitors – has been great.
“There are obviously difficult times, such as the weather turning nasty in the winter, but, on the whole, I’ve had a wonderful career serving this golf club. It’s been fantastic.
“We get a lot of regulars who come back here every year, be it on their own or as part of a group. We’ve had one outing that has been coming for longer than I’ve been here. The repeat visitors here are quite amazing, really.”
Equally satisfying during that lengthy stint was seeing some of his assistants learn the ropes in the Ratho Park shop before moving on to become head pros themselves.
“Ken Kelly was at Baberton for many years and Richard Fyvie took over from him there,” said Pate. “Colin Fairweather, who is now at Longniddry, was also my assistant for three or four years before moving down south.
“Jonathan Porteous, who is now at Craigielaw, was a junior at Ratho. We had a good bunch at one time and it’s great to see what some of them have gone on to achieve.”
To mark his outstanding service, Pate has been afforded life membership while the inaugural Alan Pate Texas Scramble will be held at the club in March.
“There was definitely a lump in my throat when I walked out of the shop for the last time,” he admitted. “It is great that the club has donated a trophy in my name and I’ve been asked to come along and present that.
“They’ve done me proud. I’m fair chuffed with them. They’ve done really well and I’m delighted. On the whole, I’ve had a great time at Ratho, I really have.”
Pate’s successor is a well-kent face to members, with Andrew Erskine stepping up after being his No 2 for 20 years.
“Alan has provided the members, guests and visitors with a second-to-none experience,” said club captain Armar Johnston.
“The warm welcome and helpfulness of Alan and his staff is very well known in golfing circles. We look forward to seeing more of Alan on the course in his retirement.”
Pate intends for that to be the case but admitted: “I have absolutely no plans at all. I’ve got a couple of grandkids who live down south and now I’ll have a bit more chance to visit them. It will be nice to do whatever people do in their retirement.”
Mark Patchett, who is coming up for 41 years at Broomieknowe, is now the longest-serving PGA Pro in the Lothians, closely followed by Cliffe Jones at Glencorse.