Crowther reflects on a season to remember

IAN Crowther has paid tribute to the quality of senior golf in Lancashire after enjoying a golden summer.

The Royal Lytham and St Annes player won two of the year’s biggest prizes and was crowned champion at the seniors’ championships in both Wales and Italy.

Crowther believes the standard of competition among the over 50 golfers in the Red Rose county is helping him keep his own game razor sharp.

“The seniors’ golf in Lancashire is played at such a fantastic level, and there is a great camaraderie among the players in the county team,” explained the 59-year-old, (pictured below right) after winning the Wales Seniors Championship (Image courtesy of Golf Union of  Wales)

.“There has been such a change in seniors’ golf over the last few seasons and the standard is so much higher. I think players are staying fitter and stronger later into life – and are working at their game and fitness levels even harder.

Ian Crowther .jpg

“There was a time when a player’s game might start to go backwards as they got older, but I don’t think that is the case now. You only have to look at the number of guys in the gym!

“When you play for Lancashire it is not just a case of turning up and knocking the ball around. County captain Mike Gray did so much in bringing a professional approach to seniors’ golf at county level with the support of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and there is so much skill and quality in the team.

“Everyone supports each other so you really feel you are part of a golfing family. Everybody pushes each other along to play to the highest level we can.”

Crowther represented Lancashire as a teenager, but after returning to the sport later in life he has gone on to become a regular in the county seniors team as well as an England international. He was a member of the Lancashire team that crowned all England champions twice in 2014 and 2016 as well as playing in the successful England line-up at the Home Internationals in 2016 and 2017. He also helped England to the bronze at the European Championships in Sweden.

“I played for Lancashire at 16, but didn’t play county golf as I was building a business and raising a family,” explained the retired investment management businessman. “I got back into golf in my 30s and started to lower my handicap to the point where I was playing off plus one in my early 40s.

“As a proud Lancastrian, to now be playing for the county is marvellous but to represent your country is something very special. When you are led out behind the flag and hear the National Anthem being played you are just filled with pride to be there.”

Crowther’s spectacular success this year crowns a remarkable personal story that has seen him recover from major ankle surgery just two years ago.

The legacy of an old squash injury eventually led to him needing to have his entire right ankle rebuilt.

“In the first instance it was making sure I could walk again all right, and then starting to build up the golf slowly through chipping and putting. I think some of the members thought I was mad as they would see me working on my short game in all sorts of weathers but all the hard work the excellence of the surgeon and his team at Wrightington Hospital has paid off.

“The last couple of seasons have been incredible. It’s all a bit of a dream, to be competing at the highest level, winning titles and representing both my county and country,” added Crowther, who lives at Chadderton and is also a member of Manchester Golf Club.

“And then to enjoy what has been my best ever season is unbelievable. I think I have learnt about being in the mix at events and coming through to win this year has been fantastic.”

Crowther had threatened to make the breakthrough into the international winner’s enclosure early in the season by finishing second in the Spanish Seniors and third in the Portuguese on one of his many foreign ventures with pal Rob Fox.

However a sign of what to come was his win in the Captain’s Prize at Royal Lytham before he won the Welsh title by one shot at Maesdu Golf Club, Llandudno, in July, after claiming birdies at two of his final three holes.

He then embarked on a remarkable run which saw him win the James Braid scratch competition at Clitheroe, the Northern Counties at Seaton Carew and finally the Italian championships in Milan when he soared to the top of the leaderboard with a final round, six under 66.

“It has been a season I will never forget,” he added. “I have had great support from my wife Denise and my children Ben and Amy, while I have been travelling to events with Rob over the last couple of seasons. That has been a great way to play different courses and meet new people.

“I think what I have been through with the ankle means I have learnt not to take my golf for granted – and I want to make the very best of my playing opportunities.”

Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs secretary Phil Harvey said: “We are blessed with an outstanding squad of seniors players who are a real pleasure to work with and Ian is a very popular member of the team and a role model for elite senior golfers.”

 

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