Mark Wilson, a popular golf writer who worked for the London Evening Standard and the Daily Express, has died aged 90 after a long battle with illness.
Born in Gosport on 13 July 1927, Wilson first worked in a munitions factory before starting a two-year apprenticeship as a trainee reporter with the Salisbury Times.
His time there came to an end after one year when he was commissioned into the Army, serving both in Cyprus and Northern Ireland.
Three years later Wilson returned to complete his apprenticeship before joining the Manchester Evening News and then the Birmingham Gazette.
He moved to London to write for the Evening Standard where he quickly became one of proprietor Lord Beaverbrook’s brightest young reporters.
Wilson progressed to the position of night news editor at the Standard before becoming the newspaper’s war correspondent.
It was during the Suez crisis that he had his biggest scoop. He learned that the British troops were going in to protect the Suez Canal the following day, but could not file his story because of a telephone blackout in the area.
However, Wilson noticed that there was a British Naval ship lying just off Alexandria. He hired a rowing boat, made it to the ship and was able to make his call from there, making sure he got the exclusive in the Standard’s later editions.
Wilson began covering golf in 1957 when he was sent to cover the Ryder Cup at Lindrick.
He went on to become golf correspondent for the Evening Standard and in 1973 he was appointed in the same role for the Daily Express.
Wilson won the Association of Golf Writers Championship in 1964, 1966 and 1985 and was presented with one trophy by golfing legend Arnold Palmer (pictured).
After a successful career as a journalist Wilson went on to become become head of communications for the European Tour in 1986.
Former chief executive George O’Grady said: “Wilson became the first head of communications for The European Tour following his successful career as a distinguished journalist, author, raconteur and editor of numerous golf publications.
“His unique ability, his professionalism, his personality, the relationships he formed throughout the world and the respect in which he was held contributed enormously to the growth and success of The European Tour.”
During his time reporting Wilson became friends with many of the sport’s biggest stars, many of whom have paid their respects.
Former executive director of the European Tour Ken Schofield said: “In short, Mark Wilson was a phenomenon. We were all privileged to call him our colleague, friend and confidant. Today’s European Tour, and the entire game, owes him our gratitude.”
Schofield described Wilson as “one of the country’s and the game of golf’s finest writers”.
Tony Jacklin, who won The Open Championship in 1969, said: “I spent many good times with Mark and found him to be a straight shooter – he was always fair and balanced with his comments about me. I’ll miss knowing he’s not around.”
Scottish professional golfer Bernard Gallacher said: “Mark was terrific to work with; always cheery and he made my job easy.
“I knew him by whole golfing life when he worked at the London Standard then the Daily Express. He was a trusted journalist.”
Wilson’s family have invited friends and former colleagues to the funeral service at Woking Crematorium on Wednesday 16 May and the reception at Sunningdale Golf Club.