After 35 years of loyal service, John Barnett will retire as Royal St David’s Professional on the 31st of March 2012.
JB, as he’s fondly known, made his only appearance in The Open at Carnoustie in 1975, but more importantly he played for the Manchester Alliance against the North Wales Alliance later that year and met the three men who would change his life forever! Those men were Jimmy Black, the Royal St David’s Professional, Arthur Maidment, the Captain and Alan Ellis. They extolled the virtues of Harlech to JB, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having demonstrated his prowess on the course with all the Committee members watching, he was appointed the Club’s new Professional and took up his post on the 11th of September 1976, becoming only the 5th person to hold that position since the Club was formed in 1894. John has now become the Club’s longest serving Professional.
JB has always had a strong involvement with the PGA, first as Chairman of the North Region and thereafter followed by membership of their National Committee, Captain of the North Wales Alliance, Chairman of the Welsh PGA and finally the proudest moment of his professional career when he was appointed Vice-Captain and subsequently Captain of the PGA from 1995 to 1998. During this period he and his wife Beryl toured the World representing the PGA, and of course Royal St David’s.
As Captain of the PGA John attended two Masters, two Ryder Cups (both won), four Opens, two PGA Cups and numerous other events. John said “The most wonderful memories was being asked at which club I was a Professional, and when I replied ‘Royal St David’s’ they’d all either played here or heard of its wonderful reputation.
“35 years have passed very quickly, and I feel very lucky to have been part of this fantastic Club. But without that wonderful piece of land out there, none of this would have been possible, and I can only thank everyone for this wonderful life.”
Ironically, JB’s replacement also has strong connections with the PGA. 32 year old Gareth Lewis will leave his post as Manager of The PGA in Wales to renew his role as a Club Professional at Harlech in March next year.
Gareth, who hails from Pencoed near Bridgend, is a fluent Welsh speaker, married with two young children. After graduating fromSwanseaUniversityin 2001 with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering he began his golfing career at the Belfry, during which time he spent 6 months at the Nad Al Sheba Club inDubaias a reward for being one of the Belfry’s top trainees.
Gareth remained at the Belfry as Golf Services Manager until 2005, when he moved back toWalesto head up the golf department and initially set up Machynys Peninsula Golf and Country Club, the first Nicklaus design course inWales.
In 2007 Gareth joined the PGA, based at the Golf Union of Wales offices at Celtic Manor, where he manages the business affairs of the PGA inWalesand oversees the development of the professional game. During this time he has developed a network of quality coaches throughout the country and has successfully implemented the PGA Coach Education Structure. PGA Director of Education and Career Development, Kyle Phillpots said; “Gareth has done a great job and I think golf inWalesis in a much better place because of the work he has done and he can be proud of his achievements.”
As well as his vast experience in the field of coaching, Gareth also specialises in custom club fitting; a service he looks forward to implementing at Royal St. David’s. Gareth is very excited about embarking on the next chapter in his professional career and is relishing the challenge ahead; “John has done a great job at Royal St. David’s and has been a fine ambassador for both the Club and the PGA and I hope I can emulate his success.”
Whilst JB will be sorely missed, the Club is looking forward to greeting Gareth and his family in March and hope that they have as much success and happiness as John and Beryl have enjoyed.
Royal St David’s www.royalstdavids.co.uk