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  • Alfie’s life as caddie inspires new book

    Henry James

    A NEW book has been written about four professional caddies who lived close to each other in Birkdale and went onto caddy for the winners of ten golf Opens.

    Fore Open-Minded Birkdale Boys is the story of Alfie Fyles, his brother Albert, Bobby (Jackie) Leigh and Teddy Halsall.

    Alfie is probably the most famous and his best-known for caddying for the American Tom Watson for all of his five Open Championships from 1975; 1977 (the famous Duel in the Sun with Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry); 1980; 1982 and his last at Royal Birkdale in 1983.

    The book has been written by John Murray, a friend of Alfie’s, and Mags Eatock, who are brother and sister. John was captain of the Park Golf Club in 2009 and was elected again in the centenary year of 2014. John considered Alf as a “good friend and drinking partner.”

    When Alfie was on his deathbed, John asked if he had any regrets: “Just two John. I wish that Pat (Alf’s ex-wife) and I had been able to make a go of it and I really wish I had had the time to write the story of my life.”

    This resonated with John and the idea lay dormant, for almost 20 years until John’s sister Mags agreed to write a book relaying the funny, the sad and the downright rude tales that Alfie used to tell to his family and friends.

    Alfie, brother Albert and neighbours Ted Halsall and Bobby (Jackie) Lee would go on to caddy for some of the most famous golfers including: Gary Player, Tom Watson, Gay Brewer, Tom Weiskopf, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Johnnie Miller, Tom Kite and Billy Casper to name a few and between them they “Won” 10 British Opens, numerous Walker Cups, Penfold Tournaments, Alcans, PGA Match Plays and Piccadilly Match Plays, among other competitions.

    When Alfie was caddying for Watson at his peak he would be making £70,000 a year.

    The authors have said the book will have people laughing in places and crying in others.

    Alfie died from cancer on March 17, 1994.

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