Tee break with the President of Prestbury

David Barker has always been a sporting man, not only playing golf but many sports from cricket to rugby too.  Born in an air raid shelter on the 11th fairway of Prestbury Golf Club, subsequent member of the club for 62 years and now President David invited Thomas Castle into his home to reflect on his life as an active Prestbury gentleman.

Being an active resident of Prestbury all his life David said he has never had the urge to move away.

“Prestbury is a wonderful place to live and I feel privileged to be part of the community here.  It is a typical Cheshire village with good shops, restaurants and pubs as well as being home to many clubs and societies and we are lucky to have such gorgeous countryside on our doorstep”.

Sitting down to coffee on a quiet Tuesday morning gazed across the frosty Cheshire countryside from a warm armchair a typically jovial David Barker relaxed opposite.

“How long will the ordeal last Tom?” enquired David mockingly.

“Hopefully it should not be too much of an ordeal, I shall endeavour to repay the coffee with an Armagnac sometime!” was my honest reply acknowledged by that laugh I have come to recall so affectionately, “shall we begin?”

I start as one would at the beginning of David’s life learning that his career as a golfer was determined from an early age

“My Father was a veteran of the first day of the Battle of the Somme and was active in the home guard in the Second World War.  He was present when the Captain’s bell was presented to the club by the home guard.  He built the family home in 1935 and the garden backed onto the 11th fairway, I was born in the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden during a Luftwaffe raid on Ringway on May 1st 1942, so you could say I was born to be a golfer.  Alongside my two brothers and father we immediately had a four ball set up.”

“The course was a lot different back then, there were no trees present on the course other than the two woods and there were a lot less members.  We used to play the course backwards too as we always started from the 11th.  We used to drive off the 11th and leave our clubs where they were, stop off half way around for a drink and not see a single golfer in all that time.  The holes were different too, for instance the 16th green today used to be the 13th and the 17th was the 14th. “

Growing up as a junior golfer alongside his brothers though was always going to mean boystrous behaviour was at hand.

“I remember once my father received a bad tempered letter from Reg Rawsthorn who was the Secretary.  We had been playing one afternoon and not seen a couple of people putting on the 17th green.  I can still remember their names and their faces today, Mr and Mrs Challoner.  One of us had driven off the tee and hit this ball which ended up going between then both missing them by a fraction.  When we got home Father presented us with a letter written in the spidery handwriting of the Secretary and we were subsequently despatched to apologise.  We were obviously worried about the possible consequences but when arrive Mr Challoner sat us down and said he had never seen two young boys play such a good shot and presented us with a brand new set of golf clubs”

Another occasion which remains prominent in David’s memory was when playing once with Mike Higson

“He was a tremendous club thrower!  He used to become incredibly frustrated if he believed he was having a poor round.  On one occasion he hurled a club so far it ended up lodging in a tree.  There we were throwing our own up to try and dislodge the thing until the tree ended up housing three golf clubs!”

David officially became a member at Prestbury in June 1951, taught by the great Harry Pierpoint, the golf club’s first teaching professional and David still has two clubs made for him especially by Harry.  Over the years and between his other sporting interests he has won various accolades and trophies at the club and today still holds a respectable -8 handicap.

“I was fortunate enough to win on Captain’s day in 2002 when Bob Meston was Captain which was one of the most memorable of my golfing career.  I won the Single’s knockout in 1984 and at some stage the White memorial and Jubilee vase.”

“I have always enjoyed sport; rugby, squash, cricket, tennis can all be considered hobbies at some stage and I have been lucky to have been significantly involved with many clubs.  I love meeting new people and I am still in contact with many whom I have played with and against in all sports throughout my life.  Being the President means I have the privilege this year of inviting all sorts of new people to play.”

In his new honorary role at Prestbury David has added to a list of similar capacities which include Captain of the Senior Wilmslow Rugby Club and the Cheshire team, Captain of the Blasters (a consortium of members invited to join from a selection of Cheshire golf clubs), President of Prestbury Cricket Club and 2nd Team Captain at Prestbury Golf Club.

“They have all taken up a lot of my spare time in their turn, but time is what is required if one is to perform in the capacity properly and to make it successful as well as fun.”

Speaking about his invitation to become President at Prestbury David knows the value of the title.

“It is a huge honour to have been invited by the Past Captains.  There are lots of very nice people at the Prestbury and I still enjoy being a member today as much as when I joined.  We are very lucky to have a strong junior section with the likes of James Newton, who I played with last year and Dan Osbaldeston who has a colossal drive.”

This year could see three generations of Barker’s at Prestbury Golf Club

“ There is myself and Andrew, Andrew’s son Craig, my son Richard and my grandson Thomas who is going through the process of applying for membership at the moment.  It would be most memorable if Thomas is successful in joining the junior section in the year of my Presidency.

“I want to remain an active golfer throughout this year, play with everyone I can and hopefully play my part in upholding the traditions and values of this traditional and valuable golf club.”

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