Prue Riddiford who died in March 2019 aged 94 was a highly distinguished amateur golfer who once played against Henry Cotton and had a very long and successful competitive career both for Sussex and in the Seniors’ game in later years. A member of Royal Ashdown Forest for half a century, she will be remembered as an inspiring role model by many female golfers, as well as for some charming eccentricities! She was often seen wearing wellies, rubber gloves and even a black bin bag for weather protection long before thermals came onto the market. She always had 2 putters out on the practice green before a game, one for slow and the other for fast greens. Her preparation for matches, making copious notes of every course to be played and loading her golf bag with bricks during a non-competitive game to strengthen her arms, were well ahead of her time.
Prue was born in Norfolk, with her early years spent in Middleton-on-Sea with schooling at Tortington Park and golf at Hill Barn, Worthing. After the war, she worked at Tortington Park School as a secretary, where she also began teaching the girls golf on the school’s small course. Aged 22, she can recall playing with her father in a match at Moor Park against Henry Cotton!
In 1949, aged 26, she played her first match for Sussex, and in 1953 she won the Sussex Spring Meeting at Crowborough by 15 shots and the first of 10 county championships playing off 3. She made a conscious decision to get down to scratch, exceeding her ambition when she achieved a handicap of plus 2. She gave over 30 years to the Sussex county team playing her last match in 1979 when she was the oldest in the squad.
Prue was also active away from Sussex. She won the Hampshire Rose in 1974 and was a regular competitor in the London Foursomes (winning the event in 1979 with Jenny Tate). When her husband died in 1981, Prue was only 57 and embraced Seniors’ golf, winning the British Seniors twice at Ilkley in 1982 and Longniddry in 1986 and represented England at the European Team Championships at Le Touquet and Switzerland.
She collected 10 Sussex Senior Championships and in 1994, aged 70 and playing off 6, she won the Methusaleh Trophy for the over 70s at Piltdown. She continued to be Club Champion at her home club, Royal Ashdown Forest, in 1994 and 1996.
In 1971, Prue joined the United Services Ladies Golf Association playing in the Wilton Shield no less than 23 times between 1971 and 1994. Her membership of the Veteran Ladies Golf Association also saw her crowned Champion 5 times between 1975 and 1992. She was a founder member of the English Seniors Ladies Golf Association in 1989 and their first President in 1992, and was instrumental in founding the European Senior Open.
Prue had numerous holes in one, achieved 2 Albatrosses at Dyke and Mannings Heath and held several course records.