Mike Pearson

Chris Moore of Royal Liverpool G.C. explores the life and times of champion golfer and great man, Michael Pearson.

How much do you know about other members of our club?
Other than at our splendid major Dinners, one inevitable fact of golfing life is that whom you meet and become acquainted with depends very much on how your pattern of visits to the club coincides with that of other people. This means, inevitably, that most of us know very little about our fellow members. In fact, many of us - especially the new members - can often be blissfully unaware of the modest Hoylake heroes in our midst.

Chief amongst these is Michael Pearson. Mike is at the club regularly on Thursdays and occasionally on Sundays so, if they are not your playing days, you might never know what a golfing giant he is. Having joined the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 1949, which makes him our senior member, Mike is the proverbial, all round ‘good egg’. He still plays elegant golf and, until recently, off a single figure handicap (although typical of other less talented but aging golfers he complains mildly of a certain loss of distance.)
Those who join him regularly on the links testify to his accuracy and competitive edge! And for those unlucky enough not to have met him yet, here is a flavour of his illustrious golfing career gleaned from articles by the late Leslie Edwards, Sports Editor of the Liverpool Post & Echo and RLGC stalwart, as well as by access to Mike’s father’s scrap book.
After excelling as a gymnast, Michael learned his golf as a boy at Prenton where the professional, Bob Jarman, set his swing permanently in the right groove. One of his early achievements was in the British Boys’ Championship at Bruntsfield Links in 1946 where he reached the last eight after beating Guy Wolstenholme, later an English champion and father of Gary, by one hole after successfully negotiating a ‘stymie’ on the last green. Michael also played in the Boys International match against Scotland in that same year, alongside Peter Allis and Wolstenholme, and won both his foursome and single matches. Incredibly, Mike still exchanges Christmas cards with one of his 1946 Scottish opponents, N. McKinnon. At the age of seventeen, he was Cheshire’s youngest ever golfer to play in the County side. It was only after completing his national Service in the RAF that he joined Royal Liverpool. His greatest supporter was the then Secretary, Guy Farrar, who acted as Michael’s mentor and who took great delight when his early potential was fulfilled.

Michael worked in the family business so was not able to spare the time to play in many of the
main events such as The Amateur, other national or even some Cheshire championships. On two
rare occasions when he was able to play in The Brabazon, he finished joint second, firstly in 1954
and again in the following year, the winner on both occasions being Philip Scrutton. He reached the
last 32 in The Amateur at St Andrews in 1950, became a Walker Cup triallist in a Walker Cup squad
v Ryder Cup players at Hoylake in 1952 where he played against Hoylake’s 1947 Open Champion
Fred Daly. Fred went out in 32 that day but Michael hung on tenaciously to eventually lose his 36
hole match by just 4&3. Later, Fred said of him: “He is a very good golfer indeed and he has the
rare trick of keeping his head. To me, he’s Walker Cup class
.” For whatever reason, Mike was
unfortunately not selected.

Mike played ten times for England in the Home Internationals, won the Cheshire Championship
three times and was thrice runner-up too. In 1952, the late David Shone (RLGC Captain 1970) beat
him in the final and, in 1969, he lost in a play-off at Hoylake against David Jones of Bromborough
(who, for a very short time, became one of the RLGC Starters). His play-off against Jones had a
moment of tragedy. At the Dowie (7th), Mike struck four tee shots out of bounds (over the cop
which ran hard by the green) and played nine from the tee! Undaunted, he fought back to put
himself into contention again on the 15th.

Michael Pearson receives the County Championship trophy from
Royal Liverpool captain, A.G.L. Lowe, 1965

Mike qualified for the Open Championship at Birkdale in 1961 and witnessed Arnold Palmer's
legendary win there. Mike famously recalls that the players’ scoreboard before play showed the
order - Palmer, Pearson, Player...
Leslie Edwards links Michael with his long time caddy, an exiled Scot called Campbell who is
described as “slightly stooped, swarthy, grizzled and nearly always perspiring as he wore the same
heavy winter coat in winter and summer
.” On one occasion, Mike thought he had done well to get rid of a difficult opponent. Looking for praise or encouragement from his characterful caddy, he was taken aback to be told: “You shudder ‘ad the bracelets on ‘im hours ago!
Michael is the modest, quiet man of golf who makes haste only slowly. He never rushes and takes
his leisurely style onto the golf course to maintain an even pace from first tee to final green. He
has perfect balance and rhythm in his golf, as he did in skiing, his other great sporting love, and in
everything he does in life. To spend an hour or two in his relaxed, courteous, humorous company
is to be reminded of older and better values, of more dignified days, of when how you played and
how you lived were easily as important as your achievements.
As Leslie Edwards made absolutely plain in 1992: “He is one of those rarities, a man with no
enemies and many admirers.
” The same holds true today, 20 years later.

This article first appeared in the Royal Liverpool club magazine in 2016

Mike Pearson made over 60 appearances in the Cheshire County team and 12 for England (1951-2)

He was part of Cheshire's winning team in the 1954 English Counties Championship at Woodhall Spa, alongside Ian Patey and Harold Humphreys.

Written by Chris Moore

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