Sir Bobby pictured with fellow member Bernie Newmarch at his Captain’s Drive-In at Walton Heath in 1990

You will have all seen the very sad news that one the country’s greatest footballing legends, Sir Bobby Charlton passed away on October 21st.  He was 86.

Variety Golf was honoured to have Sir Bobby as Captain in 1990.  His brilliance on the football field has been well documented elsewhere, but Sir Bobby was also a keen and competitive golfer playing off a handicap of nine. In fact, in bizarre circumstances, he had to surrender his amateur status in 2004 after hitting a hole-in-one in a charity match at Formby Hall Golf Club in Merseyside. His prize was a Mercedes A-class car, valued at over £13,000.

According to the rules of golf, Sir Bobby had to lose his amateur status for accepting a prize valued at over £500 and would not be able to compete in competitions at the clubs near his Cheshire home. He could have also been banned from playing social golf and would have had to serve a probationary period playing off scratch before becoming a professional.

Sir Bobby, who holed his tee-shot at the 147-yard 16th, said he was happy to win the car and added: “The hole-in-one was a complete fluke but I was delighted when it went in. I’m well aware of the rules, so I knew when I won the car I would have to give up my amateur status”.

Bobby’s solution was to donate the car to Manchester’s Christie Hospital. He said: “I thought about it for about a week. It sounded very attractive but eventually I realised that I loved my golf and I could do without the car. I’m a bit too old to become a professional from scratch. The Christie is a wonderful and important hospital.”

Sir Bobby was the only English player to win all of football’s major honours – the FA Cup, Football League and European Cup with Manchester United, and the World Cup with England, accumulating a record number of international caps and goals. For England, he scored 49 in 106 appearances, and he was United’s highest all-time scorer, with 249 in 758 games, until 2017, when his record was beaten by Wayne Rooney.

Sir Bobby was a true gentleman and much loved by his fellow members in Variety. He will be missed. Rest In Peace – Sir Bobby Charlton 1937 -2023.