- Alistair Tait
Thanks for the memories Dougie
Updated: Mar 7, 2021
There were cheers all round when Douglas “Dougie” Lowe won the 2009 R&A Media Day golf competition at Turnberry ahead of that year's Open Championship. Not so much because of the quality of his golf, but the integrity he’d shown on the golf course that day.
Dougie Lowe, who died 10 years ago today, was as honest and honourable as they come.
The former Herald golf correspondent was conceded a tap-in putt during the play of that round. It was a stableford competition, and Dougie pointed this out to the playing companion who’d knocked the ball back to him. His playing companion said something like “It was a 1-inch putt, you weren’t going to miss it.”
The player was marking Dougie’s card, and wrote down a four and two stableford points for him. Dougie’s conscience was running wild as he walked to the next tee. He told his playing companions he couldn’t accept the score, and insisted on taking a blob on the hole.
That was the measure of the man. Fitting, then, he still won that day’s competition.
Former R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson was seated beside me when Dougie gave his victory speech. “Another AGW bandit?” Dawson cheekily asked. The R&A boss was suitably impressed when I told him about Dougie’s act. Suffice it to say, I doubt Dawson ever refused a phone call when told the Herald’s excellent golf correspondent was on the line.
Mind you, not many refused to talk to or hang out with Dougie. He was great company who is sadly missed.
Dougie’s enthusiasm for the game was infectious. He spent many years on the Herald desk editing previous excellent Herald golf writers like Raymond Jacobs and John Huggan, so he had big shoes to fill when he finally landed his dream job as Herald golf writer.
His love for the royal & ancient game helped him slot into the job no problem whatsoever.
I spent a lot of time with the man from Helensburgh, and lost a fair few quid to Dougie’s 11 handicap on the golf course. We naturally gravitated towards each other through our mutual love of the game, and shared a lot of meals together at tournaments. I still remember going to dinner with Dougie, former Titleist employee Jonathan Loosemore, and Ken Brown during the 2005 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Dougie, Jonathan and I were walking to the restaurant when someone started shouting my name. We looked around and there was Brown standing on his hotel balcony waving at us. He shouted down to ask where we were headed. When I told him we were going for dinner, he shouted down:
“Can I join you?”
I gave him the thumbs up, and we had a nice four ball telling golf stories in a backstreet restaurant in Southport. Dougie was star struck. Next day he said:
“I can’t believe I had dinner last night with one of my heroes, a five-time Ryder Cup player. What a great guy. It’s probably the best meal I’ve ever had. I love my job.”
And he did.
When American LPGA player Heather Bowie took the early lead in the 2004 Women’s British Open, Dougie asked her if she had any Scottish connections. When said she had a Scottish grandmother and was thinking of calling her, Dougie waited until the press conference was over and handed Bowie his phone. When Bowie said she wasn’t thinking of calling her grandmother that day, Dougie quietly insisted she do so with his phone.
No flies on Dougie. He got the Scottish angle from Bowie for the next day’s paper.
Those fortunate enough to have been in Dougie’s company during his too short time as Herald golf writer remember him with much affection. That was obvious from the attendance at his funeral in Helensburgh, and the stories told in his memory afterwards at Helensburgh Golf Club, where he developed his not so bandit handicap.
Thanks for the memories Dougie. Oh, for just one more dinner together.
#JustSaying: “Just ask. You’ll learn. It is the eternal message that is handed down to journalists whenever they are thrown in the deep end.” The late Colm Smith, former Irish Independent golf writer
Picture used courtesy of the Association of Golf Writers