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Long-serving Nairn Dunbar PGA Professional passes away


Harry Phimister, who started and finished his career as a PGA Professional in the North of Scotland, has died at the age of 95, writes Martin Dempster.

Phimister, who was known as Roy, was born in Grantown-on-Spey, the son of golf professional Andrew Phimister and the grandson of a greenkeeper.

His father cut down some clubs for him but, by the age of two-and-a-half, he had already decided that he preferred “man-sized” clubs and with them he could play the first hole at Grantown in 12 strokes.

In 1943, Roy joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm to train as a pilot. After extensive training in Britain, Canada and Ceylon, he served in the Pacific and eventually he was posted to Papua New Guinea.

By the time he got back to the UK in 1946, there were no golf jobs, so he returned to Birmingham where he had started his naval service to join the City Police.

Within a year, family in Lossiemouth wrote to him to tell him George Smith at Moray Golf Club was looking for an assistant and he duly applied and got the job.

After a while, it was time to move back to England.  He was assistant at Coombe Hill Golf Club and then Hartsbourne.  At a professional competition, Roy played with South African Bobby Locke, the four-time Open champion, and he would often say if he had not been standing right beside him, he would not have believed what he saw.

In 1954, he moved to Denmark to a new club, Sct. Knuds Golfklub, in Nyborg followed by Odense Golfklub.  He would also teach at Kolding Golfklub and he was also invited by the Scandinavian PGA to Malmo to coach professionals from Sweden, Norway and Finland.

In 1960, he became professional at Elgin Golf Club and in 1971, he took up a job at Nairn Dunbar Golf Club.  He was proud to be part of a team that saw Nairn Dunbar rise in stature to a championship course.

He coached morning, noon and night from his juniors on a Saturday morning to all age groups and his reputation spread to include squads from North District and Northern Counties’ ladies and girls.

He kept it simple, had a great talent to tweak a swing and had great patience.  He spent 18 happy years at Nairn Dunbar. In retirement, he loved his regular fourball, fiercely competitive well into his 80’s!