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Skinner given John Panton award by PGA in Scotland

Dornoch man’s outstanding service to golf recognised at annual lunch

FORMER Royal Dornoch professional Willie Skinner received an early Christmas present last year as he collected the John Panton Award, the PGA in Scotland’s award for outstanding service to golf.

The 80-year-old was presented with the award by chairman Alan White at the PGA in Scotland’s Annual Lunch at the Hilton Hotel. He had previously worked as a dental technician before finding a career in golf.

Skinner has had the privilege of meeting five-times Open champion Tom Watson and playing a round of golf with Prince Andrew in the past, but says being given the John Panton award beat the lot.

He served as Royal Dornoch’s PGA pro for 25 years before handing the reins over to his son, Andrew, in 1998.

“When I took up the job, Royal Dornoch wasn’t nearly as popular with visitors,” said Skinner. “It took all day to get up here.”

Royal Dornoch proved popular with Americans due to its Donald Ross connection, with the club’s former professional designing over 500 courses in the US.

“It’s a big thing for Americans to come up here as he had a big influence on the game in their country and they want to play the course where it all started for him,” Skinner added.

“Ben Crenshaw was the first well-known US professional to visit during my time and he played with Mark McCormack, founder of IMG.

“But Tom Watson was my favourite visitor of them all - and he was also the nicest of the lot.”

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