North East Wales

Samuel 'Errie' Ball: Welsh golfer who played first Masters dies aged 103

Errie Ball Image copyright PGA of America
Image caption Errie Ball was the last surviving player of the first ever Masters in 1934

The last surviving member of the first Masters golf tournament in 1934 has died, aged 103.

Bangor-born Samuel Henry 'Errie' Ball died on 2 July in Martin Hospital South in Stuart, Florida.

He was one of 72 players who took part in the inaugural Masters at Augusta, Georgia - which was known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament before the name changed in 1939.

Mr Ball was 23 at the time and finished joint 38th.

PGA of America president, Ted Bishop, said: "We will miss him dearly, but his legacy continues to shine through the many PGA Professionals he inspired."

Mr Ball was introduced to golf by his father, William Henry Ball, who spent 50 years as golf professional at Lancaster golf club.

He moved to the United States to pursue his golfing career in 1930 and he was a PGA member for a record 83 years appearing in 25 major championships.

Mr Ball, who competed again at Augusta National Golf Club in 1957, also served as PGA head professional at clubs in Virginia and Illinois and taught golf for many years.

He was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 1990 and in 2011, he was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame.

Bruce Patterson, a former member of the PGA Board of Directors, said: "If you had a bad day, just being around Errie, your day became better. Golf has suffered one of its big losses. He was one of the game's treasures."

Mr Ball was married to Maxie and had a daughter Leslie, brothers Tom and John, two granddaughters and a great grandson.

Image copyright PGA of America
Image caption Errie Ball teaches golf in Arizona in the 1940s
Image copyright Jim Mandeville/Nicklaus Companies
Image caption Errie Ball was well known by golf's top names including Jack Nicklaus
Image copyright Jim Mandeville/Nicklaus Companies
Image caption Errie Ball tees off as Jack Nicklaus watches on at The Bear's club in Jupiter, Florida, in 2009
Image copyright PGA of America
Image caption Errie Ball continued teaching and playing golf well past his 100th birthday

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