WHILE most people take up golf after they retire, Broome Manor Golf Club pro of 36 years Barry Sandry is looking forward to hanging the clubs up – but only temporarily.
Barry filled out his final scorecard as golf professional at the Swindon Council-run club yesterday at a special Pro Am tournament to mark his retirement.
And Broome Manor’s most famous son, David Howell, turned out along with a host of golfers to pay tribute to him.
A six-time winner of the Wiltshire Professional Golf Championships, Barry was born in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, in 1947 and turned pro off 2 handicap aged just 17.
A year after qualifying for the British Open at Carnoustie, Barry became the first professional at Broome Manor in 1976 and went on to play a pivotal role in the expansion of the club.
The father-of-two, who passes the club pro baton to his son, Mark, said: “I have mixed emotions because I’ve been here for 36 years so it is difficult to leave but I’m mindful I’m very lucky.
“But just because I’ve retired it’s not the end – I’m still going to play golf. I’ve not played very much over the last few years so I might get more time now and it will be nice to come back and play with my friends here.
“One of the things I’ve thought about doing is going off and travelling around Europe because when you are on the golf tours you only see the airport and the course. My wife, Carol, is happy about that.
“I didn’t know this event was going to happen so it’s nice to see some of the old faces again. I still get people coming up to me in their 30s who say ‘you coached me when I was a teenager’. Of course they’ve been off, got a job, got a family and settled down and decided to come back.”
In his stint at the Old Town club, Barry designed the extra holes to turn it from 18 to 27 holes, as well as the 25-bay driving range. But his lasting legacy will be for his work coaching aspiring young golfers.
After introducing a junior grading system, he started the Barry Sandry Premier Golf Academy and was instrumental in Broome Manor becoming a Golf Foundation Starter Centre. His work with the juniors won him the Golf Foundation Sinclair award, which is given to PGA professionals who carry out junior development work of real excellence.
David Howell is one of at least 10 golfers Barry has coached who have gone on to join the professional ranks, while more than 30 have gone on to become PGA-qualified professional coaches.
Howell said: “Who knows where I would have been had Broome Manor with Barry as the pro not been here. He created an environment where youngsters were so welcome and, with the council, made golf accessible and affordable.
“He was right at the forefront of coaching when he introduced group junior courses and I think the Golf Foundation looked at what he was doing and took it nationwide.”
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and corporate services, said: “I would like to thank Barry for his enormous contribution to golf in Swindon.
“His enthusiasm and drive have delivered huge improvements to Broome Manor, both in terms of the course and the thriving junior section which has gone from strength to strength under his guidance.
“I wish Barry every success in the future and a well-deserved retirement.”