A round with.. Robin Down

The Golf in the Wild author and Allendale Golf Club treasurer shares stories from his travels, his dream fourball picks, and more

With two golf travelogues under his belt, Robin Down has lots of stories to share from his travels and golfing career. Following the publication of his second book, Golf in the Wild – Going Home which sees Robin return to Allendale on a different route through Scotland than that covered on the journey north in his first book, we enjoyed a Round With him in the Northumberland hills and got the chance to hear some of the stories from his travels and his 20 years as treasurer of his beloved home club, Allendale…

How much golf do you get to play?
There’s a lot to do as part of the very small team which runs Allendale Golf Club, but I do get the opportunity to play at least twice a week in the summer. I’m a keen photographer and love to ride motorbikes, so between volunteering at the club, playing golf and spending time on or maintaining bikes, I’m still pretty active at 70.

How did you get into golf?
I came to it very late and didn’t hit a golf ball until I was in my late 40s. I started at Tynedale Golf Club and had a few lessons with my wife before taking a break due to injury. When I came back, I joined Allendale, became treasurer within a year, and have been here ever since.

Which is your favourite course in the North East?
It has to be Allendale for me. I play most of my golf here and never get tired of it. It’s always a challenge and in my opinion there isn’t a better inland landscape for golf.

And further afield?
I’ve been to some spectacular courses in Scotland while writing the books and Traigh in the West Highlands is the most special. The course is lovely, but the views out to the islands are simply incredible.

What’s your best score?
A round of 75 at Allendale, which came at the very peak of my game – a short-lived experience.

Which is your favourite golfing memory?
I’m fortunate to have built a friendship with the owner of Traigh and had the opportunity to join him for a day at Muirfield, where he is a member. Playing foursomes, we had the course to ourselves and my game, for once, rose to the occasion. Playing a course with that golfing history in such a magnificent setting was a definite highlight. 

What about embarrassing moments on the course?
I’ve been embarrassed by my weakness over short putts throughout the last 20 years, if that counts?

Do you have any golfing superstitions?
I’m not a superstitious person, but I don’t like to use a brand new ball on the first hole as it tends to disappear.

What are your strengths on the course?
I keep the ball in play most of the time and I’m mentally tough out there, so tend to keep going regardless of the conditions or the score on the day.

And your weaknesses?
I’ve mentioned it already – I have an embarrassing tendency to miss very short putts.

Which is your favourite club in the bag?
I have a real fondness for my Cobra Baffler hybrid as it stays straight and I can hit it out of any lie.

Who is your best golfing friend?
I’m very fortunate to have many golfing friends at Allendale, in the three societies I belong to, and among the many like-minded golfers who have contacted me after reading the books. Those groups ensure I’m never lacking for a playing partner wherever I am in the country.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of the golf industry?
Following my career in IT, I’ve been very fortunate to have made many friends through golf and being part of Allendale Golf Club. If it wasn’t for golf, I imagine I’d still be travelling and spending even more money on motorbikes.

Who is your favourite golfer?
I remember being inspired to play golf by watching Justin Rose do so well as an amateur in the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. I’ve followed him ever since, and have always enjoyed Ernie Els’ approach to the game too.

Which golf events do you  enjoy most?
I love attending opens at the clubs up in Scotland, and have to mention the ones at Traigh once again. Exploring different courses, especially ones off the beaten track, is a real passion of mine.

Who do you admire?
My dad, Ken. He was a very intelligent, calm character with a great passion and ability for sport. A stoic man, he influenced me throughout my life.

Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
Barack Obama, Alice Cooper and Bob Dylan – who’s rumoured to play a bit but doesn’t say very much about it, so I’d like to see what his game is like.

If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
Can I have one every time I play over the ravine on the 17th at Allendale, please?