Prue Riddiford (nee Hayward) 6th May 1925 – 1st Feb 2019
Prue’s great golfing gene is probably attributable to her father, Wing Commander Hayward, who represented England and the was the Royal Air Force Champion 13 times, along with many other achievements, but he never tutored Prue and left her to learn the basics of the game. Little did he know that the game of golf would dominate her life for the next 70 years!
A sure sign of her talent was that over a period of 4 years, she reduced her handicap from 26 to 6, and attributed this to her concentration, a golf book “Essentials of Golf” by Abe Mitchell and Laurie Ayton, the Worthing GC Professional. By 1949, she’s in the Sussex County Team and, aged 26, the youngest team member!
Her first County trophy was in April 1952 when she won the Sussex LGA Spring Meeting at West Sussex, with a scratch 36 hole aggregate of 164. You garner her potential in this article – ‘Miss Hayward’s beautiful professional-looking swing and, in fact, her attacking attitude to the game, have always impressed. Her victory fulfilled all promises, and the prophets could jubilantly say: “I told you so.”’
A year later, Prue is now married and called the “rising star of Sussex women’s golf” and plays the Sussex LGA Spring Meeting at Crowborough. Her scores of 81 and 79 give her a 15 stroke victory. Following in her father’s footsteps, Prue becomes the Sussex Ladies’ Champion and a quote “she is a worthy champion and may remain so for years to come” is an accurate prediction as she goes on to win the Sussex County Championship another 9 times!
Her sons are born in 1954 and 55 and she doesn’t play competitively for about 6 years. She mentions that at the time her handicap was 3 and she took a serious decision to get her handicap down to scratch before she was too old, saying “I went totally mad and started improving until I got down to plus 2. It was a very good handicap which lasted 2 years.”
In the 1960’s she moved to Ashdown and joined Royal Ashdown Forest GC where she will play for the next 50 years, setting 2 course records and establishing herself as a true force in the game in Sussex, nationally and Internationally.
Prue gave over 30 years of golf to the Sussex County team, from 1953 when she was the youngest through to 1979, as the eldest at 55. She also Captained the squad and commits to encouraging youngsters into the team, and the creation of junior training and tuition.
In 1982, Prue playing off 3, wins the British Senior Women’s Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Ilkley with rounds of 78 and 83. In 1984, Prue is picked to play in the England Seniors Ladies’ Team Tournament at La Touquet, which they win 4.5 – 1.5 against France in the final. Aged 61, Prue wins the British Seniors Championship for a 2nd time and 3 years later she joins the English Ladies Senior team in Switzerland, which sees them scoop the title for the over 50s.
On May 6th 1994, Prue turns 70 and is still playing off 6, and is persistently up at the prize table. She wins the Methuselah Trophy at Piltdown during her 70th year and by the time she takes this trophy, she’s won the Sussex Veteran title 10 times.
Sussex friends and County acquaintances far and wide all have stories and anecdotes about Prue. Many relate to her love of playing golf in gardening gloves and wellies, and the need to have 4 different putters depending on green conditions. She was a copious note taker about her game, analysing her card, the courses she played, covering distances from hazards to greens, shapes and slopes on greens, and much, much more. She says, “My notes became quite a joke and they’d blow away sometimes!” What can we take from Prue’s legacy? Certainly her work ethic was unparalleled, however, she showed that analysis is key – identify your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths. A remarkable lady who will be sadly missed.
Details of Prue’s funeral will be posted on this website soon.