Personal Memories of Seve

In Books, Sport on 7 May 2011 at 19:03

Along with other sports lovers I have been saddened by the loss of Severiano Ballesteros after he died from a brain tumour diagnosed three years ago, aged just 54. He was a terrific golfer, a professional’s professional, and a great character. His passing will be a huge loss to golf and sport in general.

I have my own fond memories of Seve. From 1986-1994 I was the official photographer for Dunhill at the British Masters Golf tournament held at Woburn Golf & Country Club. I met him for the first time in 1986 in the tent  assigned to my team on the 1st tee at the ProAm event that preceded the main tournament. Seve had been teamed with a rather nervous Tim Brooke-Taylor, the former Goodie, who was concerned about how his golf might stand up to scrutiny playing in the same foursome as the great master. Tim had cut his hand while searching for a ball while warming up on the practice ground, and as my wife applied first-aid to his injury, they were filmed by TV cameras which only caused Tim further trepidation. Seve won the Masters that year and returned to play in the tournament several times more, winning again in 1991.

Tim Brooke-Taylor need not have worried; accordingly he told me later that Seve had been amazing and had been a calm influence on him and the other team members throughout the 18 holes by giving them all a great deal of encouragement that boosted their confidence.

I had taken a photograph of Tim with Seve (seen here) before they teed-off and I was privileged when Tim asked if he could use this to illustrate the back cover of his book Tim Brooke-Taylor’s Golf Bag. When the book was published in 1989, to mark the occasion I invited Tim to my studio after the ProAm event where I presented him with a framed canvas bonded print of the photograph. I was thrilled when he took the trouble to write to say the photograph took pride of place above the fireplace at his Berkshire home.

Over the years Seve’s command of English that seemed at first limited appeared to improve – sufficiently in fact to tick me off on one occasion for unthinkingly placing myself in his eye line as he was about to make a putt. I got the rough end of his tongue but he was suitably gracious to exchange some pleasant banter about he had finished playing for the day. Despite a tiring round that had not completely gone his way he willingly gave his time before returning to his hotel to be photographed by me with various competition winners that had won tickets for the Masters. He didn’t have to do this; and while others on the golf circuit may have refused, Seve had time for his fans.

As a photographer I worked with Seve on four or five occasions. I always found him to be easy going, polite and ready to share a joke when off the course – but during the tournament, when concentrating, he could sometimes be feisty. But Seve Ballesteros was always thoroughly professional and gained everybody’s respect and was extremely well liked.  His passing marks the end of a legend.

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