A piece of golfing history is now on permanent display – thanks to a woman from Huddersfield.
Brenda Firth from Almondbury has just presented Royal Liverpool Golf Club with the ball used when Irishman Fred Daly won the Open Championship there in 1947.
Her father, the Dewsbury businessman Charles Cowling, was a good friend of Daly and watched his victory at Hoylake, being presented with the ball – a Dunlop 65, No4 – after a final-round 72 sealed his success by one shot over England’s Reg Horne and the American amateur Frank Stranahan.
Brenda, who has been a member at Huddersfield Golf Club for 49 years and is the wife of past captain John Firth, explained how she was moved to make the presentation following Rory McIlroy’s win at the venue this year.
“I was watching the last day of the Open Championship on TV and, when Peter Alliss was commentating, he mentioned there had been an Irish golfer called Fred Daly who had won the championship at Hoylake in 1947,” she said.
“As soon as he said it, I thought to myself ‘that golf ball is in our sideboard drawer!’
“I went and took it out to have a look and thought it would be nice to give it back to the Royal Liverpool club so they could keep it with their other memorabilia.
“When I contacted them to say I had Fred Daly’s winning ball from 1947 signed and dated, they were delighted and expressed great interest in adding it to their collection.”
She and her husband, who was captain at Fixby in 1993, travelled over to the course on the Wirral to present the ball personally.
So how had her father become friends with the Irish champion?
“My father was the head salesman for Wormald and Walker Blankets in Dewsbury, who made the best blankets in the world,” said Brenda.
“He used to do a lot of travelling all around the British Isles and he would invariably take his golf clubs with him.
“When he was in Northern Ireland, he used to play at the Balmoral Golf Club in Belfast where Fred Daly was the professional, and they became very good friends over a period of time.
“So when Fred played tournaments over here, particularly on the Leeds courses, he used to stay at our house in Dewsbury.”
A year after his Open win, Daly was playing in the 1,000 Guineas Professional Golf Tournament at Moortown and staying with Brenda’s family when he was involved in a car accident in Leeds, escaping unscathed.
Royal Liverpool’s Chairman of Heritage, Nigel Pecker, and 2012 captain Blyth Bell received the Daly ball from the Firths.
Club secretary David Cromie also sent them a letter of thanks.
“On behalf of the Council of Members of Royal Liverpool Golf Club may I thank you most sincerely for presenting to the club the Fred Daly 1947 Open Championship golf ball to add to our golf memorabilia,” he wrote.
“This is now a very special addition to our collection.”
Daly, who had won the Irish Open the previous year, took the Claret Jug with rounds of 73, 70, 78 and 72 for a total of 293. Horne and Stranahan were just a stroke back and Henry Cotton was among a group tied sixth on 297.
Coincidentally, Daly used John Letters golf clubs for his big win, the company now owned by Huddersfield-based John Andrew of Direct Golf UK.
Born in Portrush, County Antrim, Daly was the only Irishman to have won the Open until Padraig Harrington in 2007, and the only major winner from Northern Ireland until Graeme McDowell won the US Open in 2010.
McIlroy, of course, has followed on to win three of the four majors, needing just the Masters to complete a full set.