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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Peter Rainford
Crieff/Blackpool etc
Peter Rainford Peter Rainford was a hustler. I mean that as the highest of compliments. A very fine match player, he kept on the early Scots golfing tradition of the 1840s-1890s of the match between two or four professionals for a stake (and no doubt many other wagers between both players and in the crowd). Even into the 1920s when he arranged these matches, a thousand people or more would follow it around the course. The Lancashire Evening Post remarked in 1920 on Rainford in a foursome match that ‘so seldom are professional matches played that the seventy two hole foursomes …. attracted considerable interest’

Born in Hoylake in 1878, by 1899 he was professional at the Chevin club in Derbyshire and competing in the Open Championship at Sandwich. In 1902 he moved north to Perthshire to become professional at the pretty Strathearn course in Crieff. He attracted a lot of attention by playing a challenge match against Sandy Herd, and beating him, 2 up, after two rounds of the Culcrieff course, despite Herd setting a new course record of 33. Or, so the story printed in Dundee’s Evening Telegraph reports. Unfortunately their journalistic sleuth must have repaired to the Drummond Arms for lunchtime refreshment ignoring the fact that they played another two rounds over the Dornock course with Herd winning the overall match on the 34th hole. Still, a creditable performance and a rematch in front of 400 spectators at Carnoustie saw them finish all-square. Rainford also beat James Forrester, over his opponent’s home course of Elie. He made a return to Crieff in 1920 and playe din a foursome with Angel de la Torre, Jack Renouf and Jack Sidey.

He was appointed professional at Harpenden the following year, 1903, and, with his fondness for match-play, was a natural to play for England v Scotland in the first-ever home international which was staged with the Open Championship at Prestwick. The Englishman had the temerity to beat former Open Champion Willie Fernie, though the English lost overall.

The stay at Harpenden was very short and by November of 1903 he was described as ‘the ex-Harpenden professional’ and sometime thereafter, no later than 1907, he was professional at Llangammarch Wells in Wales. From here he issued a challenge to ‘any professional in the world, home-and-home greens for £25 a side’ and defeated Jack Ross of Newport and Tom Ball in such contests before finishing all-square with James Braid over 36 holes at Llangammarch. A match against Charles Mayo resulted in a crushing defeat then a loss by one hole in the rematch.

He travelled north to the Cruden Bay tournament in 1911 and qualified from the strokeplay for the last sixteen matchplay part. He defeated George Duncan on his way to the semi-final and a loss to Ted Ray. That year Rainford won the Welsh Professional Championship which gave him entry to the matchplay PGA event for which he qualified regularly (the top 8 in each of 8 PGA sections) , a semi-finalist in 1919 and as late as 1922, when at 42 he was the oldest in the field, he advanced as far as the 4th round.

In 1913 he became the professional at Reddish Vale and qualified for the PGA through the Northern Section for the first time. He stayed professional at Reddish Vale for the first part of the war, playing charity matches around the country for wounded soldier charities, until August 1916 when he joined the Royal Field Artillery at Preston at age 37. Presumably he was never sent overseas and was in an Agricultural Reserve Labour unit when demobbed in Feb 1919.

He played a number of foursome matches with W R Bourne, notably against Harry Fernie and Andrew Kay during his time here.

Rainford became professional at Blackpool in 1922 and played in the Open at St Andrews that year. In 1926 he ‘was the only local golfer who qualified’ to play in the Open close to his original home at Royal Lytham. This seems to be the beginning of the end of his career because ‘an attack of lumbago’ prevented him competing. 1927 saw a lot of ‘failed to qualify’ in competitions: ‘a rare experience’ wrote the Leeds Mercury. In 1928 he helped with the redesign of the Blackpool North Shore course and a new clubhouse. That was probably his swan-song as the appointment of the new pro, Frank Dennis from Skegness was announced in August 1929.

Peter Rainford died in 1960.

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