A great character passed on: Maurice Flitcroft

I missed this back in March. Maurice Flitcroft of unknown handicap attempted to qualify six times for the British Open, despite the efforts of the Royal and Ancient to stymie his efforts.

Maurice Flitcroft, who died on March 24 aged 77, was a chain-smoking shipyard crane- operator from Barrow-in-Furness whose persistent attempts to gatecrash the British Open golf championship produced a sense of humour failure among members of the golfing establishment.

In 1976 the 46-year-old Flitcroft bought a half-set of mail order clubs and set his sights on finding “fame and fortune” by applying to play in the Birkdale Open “with Jack Nicklaus and all that lot”. He prepared by studying a Peter Allis instruction manual borrowed from the local library and instructional articles by the 1966 PGA Championship winner Al Geiberger, honing his skills by hitting a ball about on a nearby beach.

He obtained an entry form from an unsuspecting Royal and Ancient, which organises the championship, and, having no handicap to declare as an amateur, he picked the other option on the form: professional.

Invited to play in the qualifier at Formby, he put in a performance which one witness described as a “blizzard of triple and quadruple bogeys ruined by a solitary par”, achieving a total of 121 – 49 over par, the worst score recorded in the tournament’s 141-year history. In fact, this was only a rough estimate, his marker having lost count on a couple of holes.

A fascinating character who apparently meant no harm. He just wanted to try and qualify for the Open. Life would be dull without the likes of Mr. Flitcroft.

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