Charles Dernie, the long-serving professional at Blairgowrie, has given his last lesson after more than two decades in post. But one of his most memorable moments came not at his Scottish club but at the Ryder Cup
Charles Dernie has few regrets – not teeing it up with Seve Ballesteros or Jack Nicklaus being the rare exceptions. He competed on the European Tour, playing with a dozen major champions, before injury in a car crash steered his career in a different direction.
He moved fully into the club world and eventually succeeded Gordon Kinnoch as head professional at Blairgowrie in 1997. Now, more than two decades later, he has given his last lesson after retiring.
Dernie’s claim to fame, outside of his feats at the Perthshire club, is being the first PGA professional to become an R&A rules official.
He carried the Rule Book at two Ryder Cups and refereeing Tiger Woods at The K Club, in 2006, proved one of his biggest thrills.
Dernie took charge of Woods’ singles match with Robert Karlsson, which the American won 3&2 despite his country falling to an 18.5-9.5 defeat.
It’s a game remembered for Steve Williams letting the 15-time major winner’s 9-iron slip into the River Liffey.
“The R&A rules exam is notoriously difficult but I have had great fun doing European Tour events, starting with the Dunhill,” said the 64-year-old.
“But nothing, even the USPGA, prepares you for the intensity of the Ryder Cup. That’s a different level.
“As the first pro to become a referee I always felt additional pressure. I got lucky in getting Tiger’s singles match at Dublin’s K Club.
“There were 18,000 people watching the opening shots, not to mention the TV audience. It turned out to be a high quality match in wet and windy conditions.
“But it is best remembered for that club dropping into the lake.
“I had gone round to the back of the 7th green and had my back turned when I heard the commotion. As the caddie dipped the towel to wet it he lost his balance and let go of the club.
“Tiger asked if I could get a rake to pull it out. Then a greenkeeper pointed out it was 15 feet deep!
“At first Tiger was taking it light-heartedly. But he wasn’t chuffed at all when he learned that. There were police divers patrolling in the vicinity but it was the 15th before Tiger got the club back.
“Williams is a great caddie but Karlsson’s man thought it was hilarious. Here we had the highest profile player in the world, with a huge television audience looking on, and Tiger’s caddie had lost a club in the water.”
Dernie was only the third pro in Blairgowrie’s history and added of his 20-odd year association with the club: “Anyone in golf knows what Blairgowrie is all about and in a sense it was my dream job.
“Looking back, I have enjoyed my job at a club with fabulous facilities and I certainly have no regrets at what was a considered move to come to Blairgowrie.
“I have enjoyed my working life and Perthshire is home.”