Born in Ashford in Kent in 1880, Percy Hills began his golfing career as an assistant at Royal St George’s and his clubmaking must have caught the eye of Jack White at the Prince’s Club next door as he took Percy to Sleaford with him as foreman in 1897 or 1898.
Hills became professional in his own right at North Wenbley from where he was playing in PGA Southern Qualifying in 1902. The following July he was a competitor in the Northern PGA event having moved to North Manchester where he also played against Braid, Herd and Taylor at the opening of the extended course in October 1903.
He advertised his hand-made clubs for sale from the North Manchester club or from Mitchells of Manchester which suggests they were pretty good as Mitchells sold only the best Scottish clubmakers’ output, principally Forgan’s.
Hills carried on the old matchplay traditions of golf, winning a four green foursome challenge playing with P J Gaudin against George Duncan and G A Cassidy.
He carried on with these challenge matches when he went to Harrogate in 1906, another multi-green foursome in 1909 (for £10) playing with Cassidy’s brother against Harry Fulford and Walter Toogood and a singles’ match against Horace Fulford.
During the First World War he served in the Royal Navy and, after demob in 1919, returned to Sleaford as their professional. Despite some time thereafter at Eastham Hall and at Holme Pierrepoint, the Scotsman recalled him as ‘the old professional from Harrogate’ (charming, he was 40!) when he played in the final rounds of the PGA Daily Mail tournament at Formby in 1921. In addition to his club commitments he was also private golf professional to Field Marshal Roberts at Granthan in the 1920s.
He became professional at the United Services Golf Club in 1924 (this later became Gosport and Stokes Bay GC) and there are reports of him as professional here in the Portsmouth Evening News at least as late as 1939. The same newspaper reported his death in 1943.
In addition to his skill on the course, Percy Hills was a committee man: an original PGA member in 1902, he served on the initial executive committee, was secretary of the Northern PGA and an office bearer at several football clubs.
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