The World of Pitch and Putt is saddened today on hearing of the news of the death of former National Strokeplay and Matchplay Champion David Hayden, Pitch and Putt Ireland passes the sympathy of all it's members to the Hayden family.
John Manning remembers a colossus of the game in this tribute.
David Hayden, then playing out of Old County, was undoubtedly the Pitch & Putt player of the 1980s with an Irish Strokeplay success at Portmarnock in 1987 and two consecutive All-Ireland Matchplay crowns, at Lucan in 1988 and at Lakeside in 1989. But his illustrious career spanned more than four decades, during which he achieved royalty on the Pitch and Putt courses of Ireland and beyond.
David was undefeated in international matches while playing for his country - against Australia at Cement in 1993 (when with Old County) and against Catalonia at Sant Cebria in 2002 after he joined Lucan. He also finished fifth in the inaugural Catalan Open of 2004. David cared deeply for Pitch & Putt, was always impeccably turned-out and constantly behaved like the perfect sportsman. He always practised assiduously and never moaned when things were not going his way on the course for a few years. His self-deprecating approach (unaffected by his impressive Pitch & Putt CV) endeared him to all Pitch and Putt followers and his emotional victories brought much joy to many.
Club and family were massively important to David. He teamed-up with his wife Bernie to win the Dublin Mixed Foursomes at Lucan in 2005 and the National Mixed Foursomes at the same venue two years later. He played alongside his son David II (and Terry McMorrow) on the Lucan team that won the Leinster Inter-Club at Old County in 2006, having been runners-up the previous year at Kilbeggan. He had first seen national prominence in 1977 when he teamed-up with his father Joe (along with Jimmy Goddard and Dave Devine) in an Old County quartet that placed second in the then Major Extra National Club Tournament in Athlone.
Named the fifth best player of the 20th Century in “Backspin” magazine in 2000, David’s superb first eighteen at Lakeside against Bobby Kilduff in the 1989 National Matchplay final gave him the edge and he held on to win his third national championship in as many years, by a margin of 5&3. Having carded six birdies in-a-row from the 31st to force extra holes, David defeated club-mate David Grainger in the play-off to clinch the 1987 National Strokeplay Championship at Portmarnock. Before the RTE TV cameras at Lucan, David Hayden beat James Angland (Crosshaven) by 5&4 in the 1988 National Gents Matchplay Final.
Crowned Leinster Strokeplay champion on three occasions, David defeated his great friend Derek Courtney in the final of the 2004 Provincial Matchplay at Old County. A steely competitor but always respectful of opponents and playing partners alike, David was a keen student of all aspects of Pitch and Putt and his witty comments entertained many a gathering over the years. An inspirational leader and a supportive teammate, David saw Inter-County success with Dublin in the National Inter-County Championships of 1989 and 1999 and in the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2009 Leinster Inter-County Championships.
David did not restrict his Pitch & Putt activities to playing. He was more than willing to take his turn at course maintenance and in coaching aspiring players. As impressed as Pitch & Putt aficionados were with David’s victories, they were equally captivated by his generous reaction to disappointments. Dublin County Championship triumphs were slow in arriving but David eventually secured the ‘Grand Slam’ of individual major victories with the 2000, 2002 and 2012 Dublin Strokeplay titles and the 2014 Dublin Matchplay crown.
The premature departure of a true Pitch & Putt legend leaves a void that will be impossible to fill.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam.