George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, welcomed “The Fabulous Butten Boys” to a 50th Reunion Dinner hosted by The European Tour and held in The Ryder Cup room at Wentworth Club on Sunday evening.
Brian Barnes, Iain Clark, Tommy Horton, Mike Ingham, Tony Martin, Jim McAlister and Sandy Wilson attended the Dinner held in honour of Ernest Butten, a businessman who conceived the idea of sponsoring and training a group of the best of Britain’s young golfers – The Butten Boys – with a burning desire to find an Open Champion in addition to regaining The Ryder Cup.
In his welcome speech, O’Grady said: “Ernest Butten was a visionary and it is an honour for The European Tour to have seven members of his team here this evening including two, Brian Barnes and Tommy Horton, who progressed to become international stars with 66 tournament victories between them worldwide in addition to eight Ryder Cup appearances.”
Horton explained: “We were privileged to be part of what was at that time a revolutionary training programme. Mr Butten developed at huge personal cost with the support of the PGA a residential golf school at Sundridge Park Management Centre and Golf Club in Bromley, Kent. He brought in Max Faulkner, the 1951 Open champion who became Brian Barnes’s father-in-law, as teaching professional and designed and built a futuristic gymnasium.
“We were given Olympic-level fitness training, advice from doctors, dentists, eye surgeons and osteopaths and lectures on everything from personal finance to public speaking. Mr Butten was years ahead of his time – today’s professionals, of course, all have a team of experts looking after their physical and mental health as well as their golf swings.”
Special guests at the Butten Boys 50th Reunion Dinner included Peter Alliss, who revealed that Ernest Butten first discussed the idea with him prior to the formation of the team, former Ryder Cup golfer John O’Leary, Ken Schofield, Executive Director of The European Tour from 1975 to 2004, Julian Small, CEO, Wentworth Club, and television golf producer Jeff Harvey.