While there are numerous amateur golfers who have won their home club championship in two, three and sometimes four different decades, few are able to produce the goods on the day consistently enough to win consecutive championships over extended periods.
While sporting records are there to be broken, and often are, it’s hard to imagine any golfer being able to eclipse the achievements of Sussex legend RWH ‘Bunny’ Taylor, who, between the years of 1937 and 1962, and the ages of 24 and 50, managed to win the club championship at the Dyke Golf Club in Brighton a barely believable 20 times in a row.
After bagging his third title on the trot in 1939, he broke off hostilities with his fellow club members – and his job as a branch manager at a London-based milliner’s firm – to battle with the Bosch, before resuming normal service with victory in the championship in 1946. He then extended his unbeaten run for 16 more years until he generously decided, aged 50, to give someone else a go when retiring after securing his 20th and final title in 1962.
Word has it that Mr Taylor’s doctor told him that it was time to be taking it ‘easy’, although I doubt that was word that the patient in question had much truck with given his unrelenting desire to win.
His lowest score for the 36-hole competition was the 146 strokes he took when taking the title in 1953, aged 41, and the highest was a 161 in 1951. For the final defence of his title in 1962, Taylor attacked the course like a man possessed. Known for his unerring iron play and brilliant short game, he one-putted the 6th, 7th and 8th holes to turn in 37, and then came home in 36 after bagging four more one-putt pars, including a 12-footer at the last, for a one-over-par 73.
After opening up an eight-shot lead at the half-way point, Taylor took his foot off the gas in the afternoon, and a cold putter saw him coast to a second round 83 and an aggregate winning score of 156, seven shots ahead of his nearest challenger.
“The greens were a good deal faster than in the morning round, but although 83 sounds like a lot, I was never in trouble all day,” said Taylor, with the confident air of a man for whom winning club champs was like shelling peas.
Asked about his achievement of winning 20 consecutive club championships, Taylor said: “I’ve had a letter from the people who publish the Guinness Book of Records that they will treat this is a world’s best performance. I have certainly never heard of anything better anywhere in the world.”
And nor have we, Bunny, nor have we.