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After Dawson’s Retirement, Who’s Next?

The names of Brigadier Eric Brickman and Colonel Keith Mackenzie OBE, MC might not strike a chord. But add those of Sir Michael Bonallack and then Peter Dawson and it is clear they are the past secretaries of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the current incumbent, who will retire in September 2015.
They are the inhabitants of the office and balcony often described as the best in golf, on the first floor of the sturdy grey clubhouse overshadowing the first tee and 18th green of the Old Course.
Brickman, 1952-1967, was straightbacked, silver-haired, authoritarian, the living embodiment of a pukka British Army officer. “If his name had been Charles not Eric, you’d never have dreamed of calling him Charlie,” Peter Alliss said. “He wore Veldtschoen shoes that were 100 years old and cracked but were so shiny you could shave in them.”
Mackenzie, 1967-1983, had been a colonel in the Indian Army and then worked for Shell. He had a mischievous sense of humour, a rasping voice and an Anglo-Saxon vocabulary.
The strength of Bonallack, the wonderfully gifted golfer who was in charge from 1983 to 1999, was his ability to maintain control while not appearing to do so. He once left a meeting, returned half an hour later and was asked where he had been. “For a haircut,” he replied.
Dawson was 51 when he succeeded Bonallack. He was a better-than-average player and a better-than-average
businessman. Right from the start, he took on issues with a jut-jawed determination, be it the long putter or the trampoline effect of certain clubs, the distance the ball is going, the setting up of R&A Ltd to run the championships, staging the Open at men-only golf clubs, the lengthening of Open courses, admitting golf to the Olympics and the question of women in the R&A.


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