Golf: Browning breaks new ground for professional golf

Paul Browning and Adrian Ambler at Low Laithes Golf Club.
Paul Browning and Adrian Ambler at Low Laithes Golf Club.
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Paul Browning was an eager young 22-year-old when he first arrived at Low Laithes Golf Club looking for a job as a golf professional.

Forty-four years later he handed over those reins to Adrian Ambler because even at the age of 66, he couldn’t do three jobs at once.

For Browning is also the secretary-manager at Low Laithes Golf Club, which is a day job that still occupies him five days a week – even though he is semi-retired.

And furthermore, he is also for 2015 the president of the Leeds and District Golf Union.

Not only that, but Browning is the first professional to be named captain in the 95-year history of the Leeds and District Golf Union.

And of the seven districts within the Yorkshire Union, he is the only professional to have ever held such office in the amateur organisation.

Something had to give though when he was elected, and as of the end of March, he brought the curtain down on his long association as captain.

“I was still teaching, with a little assistance, up until the end of March, but I couldn’t do it all,” said Browning of his near half-century as the club pro at Low Laithes.

“It was a wrench leaving that part of the job, I won’t lie, but this is a great honour.

“I was also the captain of Low Laithes in 2002, the first professional to be captain at the club, which was another great honour.

“It’s unusual for a professional to be captain of a club, let alone unusual for a pro to be president of a union like Leeds.

“So to be named president of the Leeds union is one of the highlights of my golfing life.”

A president’s job with the union is to not only to represent, but also ensure a smooth year is had.

Good weather always helps, and while he has no power over the movement of the clouds, Browning hopes the teams wearing the Leeds union crest on their shirts this year do so with honour.

“I just hope for a successful golfing year in 2015,” said Browning.

“We have various teams; junior teams, scratch teams etc, and hopefully they can all achieve success.

“Numbers through the doors at all clubs is important.

“These are very dark days for golf in terms of participation.

“As memberships drop, clubs put fees up to make up the shortfall.

“Times were a lot different back in 1971,” he laughed.

Browning played at what he modestly describes as ‘regional’ tournaments during his competitive playing days.

In his formative years as a PGA pro Browning practised regularly with Leeds-based future Ryder Cup player Howard Clark and Ilkley’s Gordon Brand.

He started out as an assistant at Garforth before replacing George Conway in the senior seat at the Ossett club on December 1, 1971 – on a six-month trial.

Browning started on a wage of £6.50 a week.

Some four and a half decades on he holds the highest office in Leeds golf.