Jim McAlister Honoured

Former Haggs Castle professional Jim McAlister was honoured at the recent 40th PGA in Scotland annual lunch in Glasgow.

Hosted by Dougie Donnelly, the popular event at the city’s Hilton Hotel featured four-time Ryder Cup player Eamonn Darcy as the special guest and the Irishman entertained a 600-strong audience with tales about his career.

McAlister also has a story to tell, as Donnelly’s co-host Sandy Jones revealed in announcing him as this year’s recipient of the John Panton Award, an accolade that is cherished among professionals in the PGA in Scotland region.

Having been identified as one of Britain’s best young golfers at the time, McAlister was a ‘Butten Boy’, the name given to a group of players brought together by businessman Ernest Butten.

He conceived the idea of sponsoring and training the group with a burning desire to find an Open champion in addition to regaining the Ryder Cup in the 1960s.

Two ‘Butten Boys’, Tommy Horton, who passed away recently, and Brian Barnes went on to play in the Ryder Cup, sharing eight appearances in the biennial event. “Not bad out of six players,” said McAlister of a group that also included Mike Ingham, Sandy Wilson, Iain Clark and Tony Martin.

“It was great to be one first four ‘Butten Boys’ along with Tommy Horton,” he added. “Mr Butten was way ahead of his time in terms of diet, gym work, the lot, and it was a pleasure to be part of what he did.”

McAlister, who spent 23 years at Haggs Castle, said he was “very privileged” to receive the John Panton Award from PGA in Scotland captain John Mulgrew.

“I played with John on many occasions,” recalled McAlister. “People always talked about him being a brilliant iron player, which he was, but he was not a bad driver, too.”