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Notable People

Joan ‘Marley’ Spearman
11 January 1928 – 19 August 2011

Joan ‘Marley’ Spearman was an English amateur golf star and is Sudbury’s most celebrated golfer. Born Marley Joan Baker in 1928, she was the daughter of a businessman and was brought up in Wimbledon. She left school early to embark on a career on the stage, joining a dance troupe which performed with The Crazy Gang at the Windmill Theatre in the West End of London. In her early 20’s she married Tony Spearman, who worked in the car trade, and she left the stage.

The role of housewife, however, did not suit her, and she was on the lookout for a new interest when one afternoon, while shopping at Harrods, she saw a notice advertising free golf lessons. She decided to give it a try, and became hooked. Having had her lessons, she took to practising in the garage of her mews house in London, striking balls against a carpet hung on the wall. Spearman later said that she was at first regarded with some suspicion in the golf world — possibly, she thought, because her style of dress did not accord with that expected of lady golfers in the 1950’s. But she persevered, and won the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship in 1961 and 1962. She was New Zealand champion in 1963, and English champion in 1964. In 1960, 1962 and 1964 she was a member of the Curtis Cup Team and was Captain in 1970. She also played in the Vagliano Trophy matches in 1959 and 1961, and in the Commonwealth Tournament (now the Astor Trophy) in 1959 and 1963. Between 1955 and 1965 she was the Middlesex champion eight times; she reached the semi-finals of the Canadian championships 1959, and of the French in 1964. In 1962, after she had won the British title for the second year in succession, Madame Tussauds commissioned a waxwork of her. Marley died aged 81 in 2011.

Dave Thomas
16 August 1934 – 27 August 2013

Dave Thomas was Head Professional at Sudbury from 1957 -1968 where he combined his club duties with tournament golf and won more than a dozen titles in Britain and around Europe. He also tried his hand in the United States with less success, although he did win a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open in 1964 and finished second in the St. Paul Open.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, he turned professional in 1949. Thomas shot to prominence in 1958 when he finished tied with Peter Thomson after 72 holes in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham, but lost the 36-hole playoff by four strokes. At Muirfield in 1966, he again finished as runner-up, one stroke behind the great Jack Nicklaus who has said that Thomas was the greatest driver of a golf ball he had ever seen. Thomas was renowned for his long, straight, driving, and once hit a drive during a practice round for the 1967 Open at Hoylake onto the green at the 420-yard second hole. He represented GB&I in the Ryder Cup on four occasions, in 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1967, only being defeated once in his five singles matches. He also represented Wales in the Canada Cup, which later became the World Cup of Golf, on eleven occasions, and again at the Double Diamond Internationals in 1972. He was elected Captain of the Professional Golfers’ Association during their centenary year in 2001, and in 2006 was recognised for his contribution to golf by being made an honorary life member of the PGA.

After retiring from tournament golf, Thomas set up a golf course design business with Peter Alliss. He designed over 100 courses around the world, and his work includes San Roque, La Manga West, the Brabazon, Derby and PGA National courses at the Ryder Cup venue The Belfry.

Jack Slipper
20 April 1924 – 24 August 2005

Jack Slipper was a Detective Chief Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police in London. He was famously known as “Slipper of the Yard” (referring to Scotland Yard) and became famous for his role in investigating the Great Train Robbery in 1963 and in tracking down fugitive Ronnie Biggs in Brazil after he escaped from prison in 1965.

He was involved in several major investigations such as the Bank of America robbery in April 1975, in which £8 million was stolen from a branch in Davies Street, Mayfair and was also involved with Britain’s first “Supergrass” trial in 1973, in which bank robber Bertie Smalls testified against his former associates in exchange for his own freedom.

He helped to set up the Robbery Squad, which later merged into the Flying Squad. Slipper was one of Sudbury’s most colourful and popular members for over 30 years.

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston was a member of Sudbury from 2004-2006 and won the Club Championship and the coveted Skinner trophy in 2005. He was a successful amateur, representing England boys and the GB&I team in the Jacques Léglise Trophy. He turned professional in 2009.

Known affectionately as ‘Beef’ since his youth, he has carried the nickname into his professional career. Johnston earned his first European Tour win at the 2016 Real Club Valderrama Open de España. He went on to on secure two other top-10 finishes at the BMW PGA Championship and at the 145th Open Championship, where he enjoyed huge popularity for his personality and game. After the Open he entered for the first time in his career the top-100 of the Official World Golf Ranking at the 89th place. He is great friends with our Head Professional James Wood.

Thongchai Jaidee

Thongchai Jaidee is a Thai professional golfer who plays on the Asian Tour and the European Tour. On the Asian Tour, he holds the record for the most career earnings and is second in victories having won 13 times. He has won the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour three times during his career.

Jaidee was the first man to win US$2 million, US$3 million, US$4 million and US$5 million on the Asian Tour in prize money. In July 2016 Jaidee claimed his eighth European Tour victory with a four stroke victory at the Open de France. He shot weekend rounds of 68-68, which included a run of 39 holes without a bogey. Jaidee became the oldest winner of the tournament, at the age of 46, since it became part of the European Tour in 1972. Sudbury has a thriving Thai membership who introduced him to the Club. He has been an honorary member since 2015.