A golf talk with Richard Livingston - by Mike Franklin
PROLOGUE: After scouring the Internet for pictures of Richard Livingston to post on this tribute these two were the only ones we could find. If you have any other photo's or stories of Richard please send them to us or post on our Facebook page
In these photographs Richard is tucked away up the back in both cases after being invited into the shot by his students who adourn the foreground with the trophies of the day. This was Richards measure, the success of his pupils, the lessons taught and the results that follow. As a Golf teacher his track record of producing tournament winners in Pattaya is unrivalled and something he defended fiercly.
A golf talk with Richard Livingston - by Mike Franklin
This golf interview featured another of the golfing personalities of Pattaya, but this time a teacher and occasional player - European PGA Professional, Richard Livingston.
Club Professional @ The Golf Club - 2002 to 2013
MF: Richard, where are you from originally, and when did you first take up golf?
RL: Originally, I?m from a town called Kidderminster, just south of Birmingham in England and first took up golf at the age of eight.
MF: Not as young as Tiger, but good enough... Are you from a family of golfers?
RL: Yes my mother and father played.
MF: Now I know you have been both a Club and Touring Professional. Which came first?
RL: Club Professional, first as an Assistant Pro. Then Club Professional when I started to play in some regional PGA tournaments, mainly in the Birmingham area at Edgebaston, Solihull and other courses.
MF: You did some tour play as well - which tours did you take part in?
RL: Mainly regional. There wasn?t a PGA School in those days so you had to enter an event through the venue and get in through a qualifying tournament. But I played the European Opens, the French, Spanish, Italian and so on.
MF: So you really had to earn your stripes to play locally.
RL: And nationally as well.
MF: You have been playing golf for more than 40 years, so you must have some outstanding memories in your career of playing with some of the big names in golf.
RL: Yes, I was fortunate to have played with the likes of Gary Player and I remember going for a practice round at one of the Opens in 1971, walked to the tee with my caddy, saw Gary Player and Mike Souchak approaching, and said to my caddy we had better step down. Oh no, he replied, you?re playing with them. So I had a most delightful round with Gary Player, and then a bit later on I had the real joy of playing an exhibition match with Lee Trevino who is just as charming on the course as off.
RL: Yes, but he made everyone feel so comfortable
MF: I believe you played four times in The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open, but I remember Tommy Horton, representing the European Tour at a charity pro-am prize giving I was doing at the RAC Club, being quite specific that it was THE Open). Where were those four occasions?
RL: Carnoustie in 1968; at Lytham St. Annes in 1969 when Tony Jacklin won; in 1970 at St. Andrews when Jack Nicklaus won in a playoff against Doug Sanders who missed a short putt at the 18th; and at Royal Birkdale in 1971 when Lee Trevino won.
MF: And I recall you telling me in an interview nearly a year ago about your better than average score at the infamous 17th Road Hole at St. Andrews.
RL: Well I managed in four days to get two fours and two fives, which averages 4.5 and I think the average overall is 4.6
MF: That?s something to be proud of, as it is a fascinating hole to watch being played and if you score well you must be really pleased. How long have you been in Thailand, and what brought you here?
RL: I?ve been here seven years and the way I came here is an interesting story. I was feeling a bit depressed with the British economy and a very good friend of mine, Stephen Beard one day visiting the UK from Thailand, said get yourself some spending money, come back, stay with me, play some golf and see how you like it. So I took courage in both hands, booked a flight and within two days of playing golf, decided to move here.
MF: You?re now resident in Pattaya and never far away from golf as you live at the Diana Garden Lodge in North Pattaya and are the resident PGA teaching professional at the Diana Group Driving Range there. You hold an official current European PGA card. Very important to have that as it is proof of your qualification. Tell me a bit about your work there and the type of students that you teach. I hear stories about people retiring here at the age of fifty five and taking up golf - is this right?
RL: If you retire it?s a wonderful game to play. So I start people off at any age to play within their physical capabilities to make sure they make progress and get the maximum enjoyment. We have a full facility at the Diana Range for putting, pitching and bunker play. Target greens and lovely trees, which is quite unusual for a driving range. Plus 300 yards length to take care of the long hitters.
MF: People say to me, ?surely you?re not going to talk about young Thai lady golfers again?. Well I am, because out here we have a lot of young Thai ladies who have taken the game up and seem to have a natural talent. Richard, you teach them and you now have low handicap Thai ladies who you have taught from the start. What is it that enables these Thai women to take the game up so well?
RL: I think physically they are well suited, they are very strong and I think the thing about Asian people is that they are great mimics. They can watch somebody swing the club well and copy that. They also learn very quickly and easily pick things up. The popularity of golf is increasing so there are more and more all the time. A classic example, Mike, is your good lady Banjob who has got her handicap down to 25, is an enthusiastic competitor and knows the game.
MF: Have you ever had a hole-in-one?
RL: I?ve had eight! Unfortunately never on an occasion where I could win a car or a lot of money. I had a hole-in-one in a practice round, and had it been in the tournament itself I would have won a car.
MF: You?re a professional, you play off scratch, what is your best round ever - and where was that?
RL: It was in the Midlands in England - I shot a 61 with nine pars and nine birdies.
MF: As we know, to live here is to be in a golfers? paradise with 19 courses to choose from, and most designed by the big name architects. Which four do you rate as the best?
RL: That?s a difficult one. Laem Chabang immediately comes to mind; Khao Kheow; Bangpra, and after that there are so many good ones to choose from.
MF: Visitors to the area for the first time, and maybe on subsequent visits, seem to have a problem playing to their home club handicap. Why is that? Given that they must play off their lowest current handicap, there is maybe some aspect to the game here that needs special attention. What aspect of the game is it most important for the average golfer to practice here, given the excellent practice facilities we have at the courses and at the driving range?
RL: It?s difficult here. The grass is strong and the courses are very different. Bump and run is rarely an option , you have to fly the ball to the green but to stop it is not easy. The short game is the most important part of the game to practice. Seventy yards in and, of course, the putting.
MF: We watch a lot of golf on television on the various channels. Speaking from the professionals? point of view, who is your favorite TV golf commentator?
RL: Without a doubt Peter Allis. A very intelligent man and a very good golfer in his day. He had a marvelous mentor in Henry Longhurst. His commentary and comments are informative and interesting for viewers who understand golf, and those who do not.
MF: Now, if you had the opportunity to play with any golfer, past or present, who would it be?
RL: It would have to be Jack Nicklaus. Seeing him in an Open, he was hitting the ball in those days as far as Tiger Woods hits the ball today. A fantastic ball striker, a wonderful man and a nice temperament.
an interview with him from the Pattaya Mail as it reveals Richard?s golfing career in a new light that many of us had never known.