Barry Lane climbed up on to the disused shed and walk along the single beam that was the apex of the small building at Downshire Golf Club, near Bracknell, where Barry had been an assistant professional. The beam looked about six inches wide, but Barry insisted on posing on it with his driver as golf photographer Matthew Harris started snapping pictures.
“Bet you Mark Roe has never done anything like this, can’t wait ‘til he sees this photo,” Barry said.
If I was nervous before my first golf magazine instruction shoot, then I was on the verge of panic watching Barry standing on what looked like an extremely rickety piece of wood. I’d voiced my objections to Barry’s idea, but he insisted on climbing up onto the structure. I had visions of him crashing down the 12 feet or so to the floor and doing himself an injury that could hamper his season, or even his career.
Thankfully, Barry got up and down without any mishaps, Matthew got great photos and Barry was able to one up Roe as a result.
I thought of this vignette on New Year’s day when I heard the news Barry had passed away, aged just 62. It hit me hard. I’m sure it hit his peers hard too, along with European Tour officials and fellow journalists, for Barry Lane, or “Baz,” as most of us called him, was one of the most popular of European Tour and Legends Tour players. That much was obvious when the Legends Tour renamed its Rookie of the Year award in his honour. Baz was on hand at the 2022 Legends Tour season-ending MCB Tour Championship, Mauritius last month to deliver that trophy to 2022 Barry Lane Legends Tour Rookie of the Year Adilson Da Silva.
Nice touch by the Legends Tour to rename the trophy after a man who played 693 European Tour events – making him fourth in all-time appearances – won five times, played in the 1993 Ryder Cup, and amassed nearly €7 million in earnings over a career that spanned over 25 years. He went on to win eight times on the Legends Tour.
Those figures are almost as impressive as the man himself. Almost.
“This is a very sad day for all at Legends Tour,” said Ryan Howsam, Legends Tour Chairman. “Barry’s achievements throughout his impressive career are well documented but on a personal level he was a wonderful man.”
Baz was one of the European Tour’s good guys. Today’s Golfer magazine signed him up as a contributing professional after he won the 1988 Scottish Open, his debut Tour win. I had the pleasure of working with him on instruction shoots in my two years at TG, and he was more than joy to work with. He couldn’t have made a young, green journalist who couldn’t play the game to any great level more comfortable.
Most of the players I’ve had the privilege to work with have been great. Some become not so after they’ve had a bit of success. “Talk to my manager,” is a common refrain from those who were once happy to stand for an interview. Then they get a couple of wins, a bit of success and suddenly they forget where they came from. They brush past you without even a glance or a “how are you doing”. Thankfully, it’s only a small minority. Baz wasn’t in that minority. Anything but.
Barry Douglas Lane always stopped to chat, always called me by first name, even during his success and afterwards. Even enjoyed a bit of mickey taking at my expense: he'd had to pay for lunch after that first photo shoot because yours truly had forgotten his wallet, and he playfully ribbed me about it for the rest of the season, and much of the next.
Legends Tour CEO Phil Harrison said:
“Barry joined us at MCB Tour Championship, Mauritius last month and this was a very emotional few days for Barry, (wife) Camilla and his golfing friends and family, but was a celebration and a time to reflect on a life well lived."
I wish I’d been there to share that last moment among his friends. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who shed tears when I received the email of his passing on New Year’s day.
#JustSaying: “Playing with Barry Lane on tour was like playing with your best friend except he’d beat you…. that didn’t seem to matter, you were pleased to see him do well." Ken Brown
Photograph courtesy of the Legends Tour