Harold Swash, who died in Southport in early December aged 83, was Britain’s answer to Karlsten Solheim but without the commercial success enjoyed by the founder of Ping. He manufactured golf clubs and for some years marketed a brand named Align but his forte proved to be the design and manufacture of putters, of which he produced dozens in various styles, many of them adopted by Tour stars.
Known world-wide as the Putting Doctor, Harold was originally from the Birmingham region but had lived in Southport on Lancashire’s Golf Coast for most of his adult life. He was an engineer by profession before he became renowned as the professor of putting.
For many years a Category One golfer, Harold played to a two handicap at Hillside no doubt largely due to his skill on the greens. He frequently navigated Hillside’s great links with fewer than 24 putts and once took only 19, a feat recorded in his car number plate: PUTT 19.
To Harold putting was a science and he was its most renowned tutor and practitioner. He lived only fifty yards or so from Hillside’s clubhouse and the practice green where he gave tuition to desperate county players and international Tour stars.
His lessons followed a similar pattern: he would watch the player putting for maybe 15 minutes without saying a word. Then he would set about solving the problems he had spotted, ticking them off a lengthy check list that might have been converted into a book of instruction on the subject. Indeed, we sometimes spoke of this but never quite got around to it.
I lived in nearby Birkdale for some years and Harold and I were friends who saw each other frequently at various golf clubs, usually on my rounds as a golf columnist covering county matches or championships for the local paper.
He was my contact with the European Tour and we invariably met over lunch at the Open Championship where he’d give an insight into events of the week that few others knew about.
It’s fair to say that Harold knew everyone of significance in the world of golf and everyone in the game knew and respected him as the supreme professional in his chosen field.
His was a unique talent but he was a modest gentleman of the old school and a good friend to many. He will be sorely missed.