Leslie Hepsworth, Srixon Sports Europe Ltd

The UK and Ireland President of Srixon talks about the time he hit an ace and his opponent stormed off, why the pro is essential to the health of the game and which famous historical figure people feel he is morphing into. 

How did you first get into golf? 

My father was a professional so I started playing relatively early in life, at seven years of age. By thirteen I had managed to get down to scratch and at sixteen I decided to become a PGA Assistant. Whilst I enjoyed the job to start with I soon discovered that my golf wasn’t up to the level required to compete on the circuit, I wasn’t really a fan of club repairs and, to cap it all off, I was a distinctly average teaching pro.

What’s your favourite golf course?

It’s very hard for me to pinpoint a specific golf course, so my answer would have to be any Harry Colt Course. To me his courses are so cleverly designed, testing all parts of the game and presenting all the challenges anyone should need to face.

What’s the best golf shot you’ve ever hit?

In a scratch match I was two up with three holes to play. The gentleman I was playing against proceeded to hit the ball to within a foot on a Par 3. I promptly stood up and hit my ball straight into the hole for an ace. His reaction was a picture to behold! He was so mad he threw his bag in the air and stormed off the course. He shall remain nameless!

What’s the biggest issue facing golf today? 

Primarily, the lack of young people taking up or staying in the game and, secondly, the major change in retail with how the pro sits within the business model at the golf club. The pro is intrinsic to the future of the game and I sincerely hope the industry and the PGA do everything in their powers to protect them in these changing times. Yes that’s two things, but I feel passionately about both issues.

What one thing would you like to change about the golf industry? 

I think we need to get proper government backing and get golf on the school curriculum. Until we can at least try to compete with football, the young just won’t get into the game early enough to give them a chance of staying in it throughout their lives.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

Firstly, I am extremely fortunate to represent two of the leading golf brands in the world. With that comes tremendous responsibility, which is something I relish. Secondly, I work in the sport I love – it doesn’t get much better than that.

And the hardest part of it?

Like any job challenges present themselves on a daily basis and in recent years the golf industry, as we all know, has taken somewhat of a hit. However I am fortunate to have an outstanding team working alongside me.

What’s your favourite film? 

That would be The Legend of Bagger Vance. Probably a surprise to many, but I just love the caddy and feel it really captured the essence and reality of the game. A very cool film!

Most played song on iPod? 

A sore subject I’m afraid as I’m not a fan. The main reason is that, since we bought them one each, both my daughters disappeared to another planet and have never returned. So to pinpoint my favourite song is very hard, unless it pops up on the radio whilst I’m driving to and from work.

Who would be your five dream dinner party guests?

Winston Churchill, as many people think I am morphing into him, Ben Hogan – what a player and what a comeback, Richard Branson, Barry Sheene and Muhammad Ali. Now that would be a riot, I’m sure!

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 

Achieving everything possible alongside the public company goals we have set ourselves and, most importantly, feeling I have continued to contribute to the industry I love and passed on all I can to my key staff to help them further their careers.