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Lancashire legend Noon dies at 80

By David Birtill

LANCASHIRE golf, and the Fylde in particular, mourned the death at 80 of Michael Noon, one of the best amateur players the area produced in the post-war era.

Winner of a host of competitions at the Royal Lytham and St Annes and Fairhaven clubs, perhaps his greatest achievement came at the 1992 British Seniors Open Championship.

In a field at Royal Lytham that included the best over-50 golfers in the world, Noon shocked everyone with his exploits and led the elite field by two strokes at the end of the second round.

He was still only two shots off the lead after three rounds but in the final round was paired with Arnold Palmer and he slipped down the standings and just missed winning the medal awarded to the leading amateur.

There could have been a very good reason behind his uncharacteristic last day lapse.

Royal Lytham folklore has it that Noon left his trusted putter behind him at home and had to borrow one from the professional’s shop!

But it should have come as no surprise that he should perform so well at Royal Lytham, where he enjoyed a formidable record.

The history section on the club’s website gives Noon’s achievements pride of place.

He won the Clifton gold medal on 11 occasions and the Manchester gold medal 14 times.

Noon was also a habitual winner of the Royal Lytham and St Annes Silver Iron, the club’s premier scratch strokeplay prize. He won it 12 times in the years spanning 1964 to 1987 and his total haul of gold medals was 43 between 1965 and 1998.

Noon’s death brought in several tributes, among them from Charles Grimley, secretary of Royal Lytham, who described him as a “gentleman of golf.”

He added: “His achievements are remarkable and a testament to his ability and consistency over the years.

“It is safe to say that his record in scratch competitions at Royal Lytham will never be overtaken. I was never lucky enough to play with him on the course, but I was on the range with him a lot in his latter years.

“When he had a dentist’s practice in St Annes, he would come down at lunch-time to play a few holes. He was a gentleman of golf and from what I am told whenever he beat someone, he would almost apologise for doing so.

“He wasn’t particularly long off the tee, but he was proficient in every single aspect of the game – he was just very accurate and dedicated to golf. The term practice makes perfect does not apply to us all, but it did to Michael.”

Noon’s prowess at golf was known county wide.”

He won the Lancashire Senior Championship in 1991, ’92, ’95, ’96 and ’97, as well as being runner-up in the county amateur championship in 1968.

For a time Noon, who made 26 appearances for his county in 1966-74, was also a member at Fairhaven, where he won the club championship six times.

His occasional playing partner Richard Joyce, a fellow member at Fairhaven, spoke of Noon’s single-minded approach to golf out on the course.

He said: “The joke was that when Michael was playing he only used a few words – he would restrict himself to saying: ‘Good evening; good blow and good night!

“But when Michael came off the course he was a great conversationalist.”