Now his grin is even wider after he powered to a seven-under-par 64 to set the first round pace in the De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall.
And the 33-year-old Bolton Old Links assistant, who leads professional golf’s oldest trophy by a shot from a trio of Yorkshire players, achieved his career-best score with a second hand putter and borrowed range finder.
“My whole life changed when my daughter Elvie was born,” he revealed. “Golf suddenly seemed secondary and maybe not taking it quite so seriously has helped me to relax.
“I played aggressively, going for shots I might not have previously taken on, and no longer had any self doubt.
“It makes me wonder what I’ve been doing since I turned professional 13 years ago. All I’ve had to show for my efforts so far are a couple of wins on a minor tour and in the Manchester Alliance.”
Hancock could not afford the luxury of a range finder so he was lent one by a PGA staff member. And before he left for Leeds he procured a £39 second hand putter from the bargain barrel at Old Links.
“I’ll have to buy it now,” he laughed. “I can’t remember the last time I played so well on the greens.”
His longest putt was from 12 yards on the 17th – the last of six birdies in a round highlighted by an eagle at the 527-yard 13th where he arrowed a six-iron to eight feet.
Chris Gray rolled back the years as he posted a 65 in a tournament he won a quarter of a century ago at Otley and when he was assistant at Lindrick.
The Cottingham professional, who celebrates his 49th birthday next week, also had a grand day out with the short stick. “It was all down to putting,” he admitted. “I felt I just could not miss on greens that were in superb condition.”
His score was matched newly-appointed Mid Yorkshire club pro Aran Wainwright, who won the Spirotech Open in Manchester earlier this month, and Bondhay’s Michael Ramsden, runner-up in last week’s James Brearley Lancashire Open at Blackpool North Shore.
LEADING SCORES: 64 Mark Hancock (Bolton Old Links); 65 Chris Gray (Cottingham), Aran Wainwright (Mid Yorks), Michael Ramsden (Bondhay); 66 Nick Ludwell (Selby), Adrian Ambler (Moor Allerton), David Smith (Swinton Park), Michael Nesbit (Westerhope); 67 Ben Mason (Waterfront), 68 James Drinkall (Allerthorpe Park), Will Barnes (Garstang); Graham Cox (Davenport), Trevor Newsham (Heysham), Oliver Cross (Brough), Graeme Bell (Eaglescliffe), Grant Hamerton (Brookdale); 69 Martyn Hamer (Ellesmere), Jon Cheetham (Styal), John Cheetham (Marriott Worsley Park), Jason Proctor (Moor View Golf Centre), David Clark (Morpeth), Simon Edwards (Windermere), Gareth Jones (Sandiway), Richard Pace (One Stop Golf).
Leeds ran out convincing 26-10 winners over hosts Harrogate in the latest round of Yorkshire Inter-District Union fixtures.
In addition to gaining maximum points for the visitors at Ripon, Cookridge Hall’s Bradley Hudson and Normanton’s Mark Griffiths were awarded their Leeds and District Union colours.
Ashley Smith also enjoyed a winning return to the team whose final fixture is away to a strong East Riding outfit, at Hainsworth Park, on September 4.
Match details: Foursomes (Harrogate names first): Josh Bassitt (Bedale) & Kevin Parker (Rudding Park) bt Andy Wiltshire (Pontefract) & Darren Walton (Wakefield) 2&1; Phil Kitching (Rudding Park) & Wayne Crick (Oakdale) halved with Richard Law (Low Laithes) & Simon Coumbe (Pontefract); Steve Whitwham & Liam Wharldall (both Rudding Park) lost 2&1 to Bradley Hudson (Cookridge Hall) & James Skirrow (Scarcroft); Ben Sardo (Otley) & Jack Lampkin (Ilkley) bt Andy Stringer & Scott Douglas (both Wakefield) 3&2; Jack Backhouse & Mark Bennison (both Knaresborough) lost 2&1 to Chris Nichol (Waterton Park) & Mark Griffiths (Normanton); Will Rushworth (Pannal) & Chris Henderson (Oakdale) lost 1 down to Ashley Smith (Garforth) & Matt Brighton (Wike Ridge); Singles: Bassitt lost 5&3 to Wiltshire; Crick bt Walton 2&1; Parker bt Law 2&1; Kitching lost 3&2 to Coumbe; Lampkin lost 1 down to Hudson; Bennison lost 5&4 to Skirrow; Sardo lost 4&3 to Stringer; Wharldall lost 3&2 to Douglas; Rushworth lost 3&2 to Nichol; Whitwham lost 2&1 to Griffiths; Backhouse lost 4&2 to Smith; Henderson halved with Brighton.
Meanwhile, Pontefract pair R Whiteley (6 handicap) and T Glover (8) have won the Leeds and District Union’s Seniors Fourball Better Ball Championship.
A 23-point haul over the back nine at their home course meant they edged out Moor Allerton duo D Share (12) and J Ross (21) by a point after claiming 46 points overall.
Another Moor Allerton pair, S Sadler (18) and A Sharpe (10), finished third on 45 points after a countback from Temple Newsam’s P Monks (11) and T Larner (18).
Roundhay’s R Smith (11) and J Wilson (13) were fifth with 44 points.
Meanwhile, two-handicapper Liam Wharldall shot a course-record equalling 68 to win the Rudding Park club’s midweek medal – and saw his playing mark slashed in half as a result.
A nett 68 sealed Jonathon Fraser’s victory in division one of the Harrogate club’s monthly medal. Robert Jessiman’s nett 70 took the division two prize after a countback.
Hugh Warren took the seniors stableford with 45 points and Jean Brecken produced a nett 72 to claim the ladies medal.