- Alistair Tait
Remembering Kate Wright
Kate Wright’s familiar, infectious cackle rang out as my 40-yard pitch shot travelled all of four yards. It’s not nice to laugh at the misfortune of others, but I wish Kate, or “Wrighty” as many fondly called her, was still around to do exactly that for many more years to come.
Arguably the European Tour’s most popular member of staff, Kate lost her battle with cancer yesterday. She was just 36. Another member of the European Tour family has gone to that great clubhouse in the sky.
European Tour director of communications Scott Crockett spoke for everyone when he said:
“The European Tour is a sad place today. We celebrate the fact that we are one family here at Wentworth, but we lost a beloved member of that family this morning.
“Kate Wright was a unique individual. Unfazed by anything thrown at her, unbridled in her passion for all sport, but unequivocal in her love of golf. She absolutely loved Tour life and Tour life absolutely loved her. Our department meetings and media centres will never quite be the same again.
“While we all feel a sense of loss right now, it is incomparable to what her dad Brian and mum Sue are going through. It goes without saying our hearts go out to them and that the thoughts of everyone at the European Tour who knew Kate and worked with her over the years are with them now. RIP Wrighty.”
All you had to do was look at yesterday’s response on Twitter to realise the daughter Brian and Sue Wright brought up in Leighton Buzzard made many friends, commanded much respect in her 12 years as the European Tour’s Media Relations co-ordinator. The outpouring told you her death touched many hearts. Officials, journalists, players, and many others associated with the great travelling circus that is the European Tour sent their respects.
Tommy Fleetwood tweeted:
“So sad to hear that Kate has lost her battle with cancer. She was a huge supporter of golf, always quick witted and not shy on telling you what she thought. A strong character that will be sorely missed. Condolences to the Wright family. RIP Kate.”
Victorious 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn chipped in with:
“Heart breaking news. Can’t believe she has been taken at such a young age. Funny, brilliant and kind. RIP dear Kate.”
Paul McGinley tweeted:
“She fought so bravely and another kind soul leaves us #RIPKATE”
Many reading this won’t know Kate. She was another of those many people without whom golf tournaments couldn’t take place, those so important behind the scenes individuals who get very little credit for a tournament’s success.
Kate, who graduated from Staffordshire University with a BA Hons in Journalism, joined the European Tour in 2008 after two years as Media Relations Assistant for England & Wales Cricket Board. Anyone who met Kate knew they’d met a real diamond. No task was too big, no request turned down. European Tour media centres wouldn’t have worked half as efficiently if not for her dedication. She was often the first person you saw when you walked into a media centre, and the last person you said goodnight to as you left.
Kate’s sense of humour was infectious. Fellow journalists will miss her distinctive cackle. Oftentimes she was laughing at herself. Sometimes at the mishaps of the journalists in the room. All of us have been on the receiving end of Kate’s wit. She never missed the opportunity to lampoon the people she served, and revelled in others trying to take her down a peg too. All part of the brilliant banter that makes life on the road more bearable.
During the 2018 French Open at Le Golf National, I committed a wee mistake during an interview with a European Ryder Cup player. I told Kate of my gaffe. She told me not to worry about it, it was no big deal, that said player wouldn’t even have noticed my error.
We went back to the media centre and I excused myself to get a coffee. When I came back, the letters N.U.M.P.T.Y were written in huge red ink on my notepad. When I looked over towards the media desk, Kate had a huge smile on her face.
And so to Woburn’s Dukes course and my duffed 40-yard chip.
We’d spent an hour together on the Tavistock Short Game area working on 40-yard pitches after I told her I was struggling with that part of my game. After an hour of practice, I was feeling good about those shots. Kate didn’t have a problem in that department. As a five handicapper who’d grown up at Leighton Buzzard Golf Club, where she might have had the odd tip from a young assistant professional called Ian Poulter, Kate didn’t need to practice 40-yard wedge shots, or most other parts of her game.
So there I was hanging my head and trying to refrain from dropping an F-Bomb when Kate’s distinctive cackle rang out, followed by:
“Taity, you’re such a numpty! What have we just spent the last hour practising?”
Needless to say, I didn’t beat her that day. What else is new? I made the mistake the first match we played of telling her I’d play her straight up, no shots. She beat me 5&4, off the same tees on the Marquess course – hitting it 20 yards past me!
I did get my own back on her a little later. Kate turned up for a game around the Dukes course with a new trolley, supposedly electric. She was fuming at the company she’d bought the trolley from because it had no power. She pushed it for 15 holes before I noticed the letters L and R were marked on both wheels. Only Kate had put them on incorrectly. The L was on the right and vice versa.
I asked her if she knew her left hand from her right, and she gave me a puzzled look. I pointed out her error and suggested she might like to flip the wheels. Presto! Suddenly the electric trolley sprang into life and sped off down the fairway with Kate chasing after it.
“Now who’s the ‘Numpty?’” I asked. We both fell about laughing.
Oh, how I wish there were more laughs to come.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair. This is one of these times.
#JustSaying: “We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.” Robert Burns