Continuing our series on eminent or interesting former residents of Budleigh we recall someone who really should have been featured in our Olympics-themed items of 2012.
Marley Harris died on 19 August, just under two years ago, aged 83. As Marley Spearman, she was one of the most celebrated amateur lady golfers of the 1960s. The stories about her are legendary, not least including the explanation of how she became a golfing star having begun her career as a dancer on the
“Her husband played at the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in
Mitchell Spearman took up the story, explaining how his aunt had impressed the pro at the Regent’s Park golf centre where her husband had arranged lessons. ‘“The pro came and spoke to me,’ she said. ‘He said I had a lovely swing and couldn’t believe I was a beginner. He said if I practised hard I could be an international player. I had no interest in that, I was just enjoying being out of the flat. After about a month I asked Tony if I could go on the course with him. On the drive out there the next day, Tony told me some of the rules but stressed if I miss the ball pick it up and also not to embarrass him.
Bob Lankester went on to tell the story of how some three to four months later at another dinner party Tony Spearman again mentioned that they were one short for golf on Saturday and in the absence of anyone else agreed for Marley to join the other three men, knowing that she had been regularly receiving coaching from the pro at Regents Park. “He stipulated that Marley should fill the place of their regular golf partner, meaning that she would play off the men’s tees and receive no handicap allowance.”
Despite her unhappiness with this experience her husband told her to forget the incident and prove to the Ladies’ Committee how good she was, said Bob Lankester. “Within twelve to eighteen months she was playing for
Mitchell Spearman continued to pursue golf as a full-time career, inspired by his aunt’s talent. He has been a premiere instructor in the world of golf for over 20 years and is one of Golf Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Teachers in
“Another story that Marley told me was that not too many years ago she was at a cocktail party and someone asked her if she played golf. She responded by saying ‘Yes but not too much anymore.’ The other party said, ‘I understand you kind of giving it up, it’s a hard game!’ As you can imagine Marley never said a word.”
“One of my fondest memories was that I was in
On Monday 18 March 2013 at 7.30 pm, a talk jointly organised by
Two researchers, Henri Grissino-Mayer, a
Marley Harris too, a golfing star whose talents some might compare to the master of violin-making himself, found that the weather played a crucially life-changing part in her destiny. Bob Lankester recalls that when he met her she was by then suffering from leukaemia to which she eventually succumbed. “Her final words to me were: ‘Do you know, if it had not been raining that day when I went to Harrods I may never have known that I had a special talent.’”
Photos of Marley Harris courtesy of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club,