Renton Laidlaw, the renowned broadcaster and journalist whose voice became synonymous with the European Tour’s world feed, has died aged 82.
In a remarkable career spanning more than 60 years across print, radio and television, Laidlaw narrated some of golf’s most iconic moments, including 15 Ryder Cups and more than 150 Major Championships.
A hugely popular and generous figure in TV compounds and media centres around the world, his distinctive Scottish voice documented the rise of European golf globally, while he was also an accomplished author and writer, contributing to numerous newspapers, magazines and publications, including editing The R&A’s Golfer’s Handbook.
Born in Edinburgh, Laidlaw’s journalism career began in 1957 at the age of 14 as a copy-taker in his home city and he followed in the footsteps of his father as a sports reporter for the Edinburgh Evening News.
He covered his first Major Championship at The 1959 Open at Muirfield, when Gary Player lifted the Claret Jug aged 23.
After working as a freelancer for Reuters covering golf globally, he then moved into broadcasting, firstly with Scottish Television and then as a news anchor for Grampian TV and the BBC. Following a stint as golf reporter for London’s Evening Standard, he spent 15 years as BBC Radio’s golf correspondent, before joining British Satellite Broadcasting - which later became Sky – in the early 1990s.
He went on to become of the voice of the European Tour globally, anchoring European Tour Production’s world feed broadcast throughout the 1990s and 2000s until his retirement in 2014. His incredible contribution to the Tour, and to the wider game of golf, was recognised that year by the Tour’s then Chief Executive George O’Grady at the Tour’s Golfer of the Year celebration and it was one of many awards Laidlaw received across a decorated career.
In 2003, he received the distinction of becoming the first European winner of the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism and he was awarded the 2012 PGA in Scotland Lifetime Achievement Award.
Three years ago, Laidlaw was awarded the Special Recognition Award by the PGAs of Europe (now the Confederation of Professional Golf) for his services to, and impact upon, European golf.
He received the award at the same time as his friend and fellow broadcaster Göran Zachrisson, who also passed away earlier this year. Like Zachrisson, Laidlaw was a hugely popular and respected figure with his peers in the media. He was a member of the Association of Golf Writers from 1963, Secretary from 1978 – 1995 and Chairman from 1995 – 1998, before holding the position of President from 2004–15.
In those roles, he helped foster strong relationships between the golf media and the various governing bodies, and Scott Crockett, the European Tour’s Communications Director, today paid tribute to him.
He said: “The word ‘legend’ can often be overused in sport but there is no question it is a fitting one to describe Renton in the world of sports broadcasting and journalism. His loss will resonate across our sport and the thoughts of our Chairman David Williams, our Chief Executive Keith Pelley and everyone at the European Tour go out to his sister Jennifer and his many friends and family at this sad time.
“On a personal level, I will be forever grateful for the help and support he gave me over decades; from my many years in journalism in Scotland and throughout my time with the European Tour; indeed he even let me stay in his Sunningdale cottage during my first year at Wentworth. These are priceless memories that will stay with me forever.
“From an AGW perspective, it is tremendously sad to think that the organisation has, within the past six months, lost three of its most recent Presidents in Jock MacVicar, Goran Zachrisson and now Renton. While we feel their loss at this time, we should smile at the thought that, wherever the three of them are meeting up right now, the golf chat will be lively and full of fun.”
Tributes today poured in from the world of golf, including The R&A:
We are deeply saddened to hear of Renton Laidlaw’s passing.— The R&A (@RandA) October 12, 2021
With his distinctive Scottish voice, Laidlaw was one of golf’s most respected broadcasters and journalists, and provided great service and dedication to the sport.
Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. pic.twitter.com/f2G4qBMG0c
The Association of Golf Writers:
RENTON LAIDLAW ...— Association of Golf Writers (AGW) (@AGWgolfwriters) October 13, 2021
Heart-breaking news to learn of Renton's passing.
Renton, aged 82, joined the Association in 1963. He proudly served as Secretary (1978/1995), Chairman (1995/1998) & President (2005/2015)
RIP Renton pic.twitter.com/EQLpJrDx5g
AGW Chairman, Martin Dempster:
I have been fortunate to come across some fine people through golf but one gem of a human being always stood out above the rest. That's because Renton Laidlaw was a class act in everything he did and the golf world has lost a giant with his passing. RIP pic.twitter.com/JlmSR9yItL— Martin Dempster (@DempsterMartin) October 13, 2021
Sky Sports commentator Ewen Murray:
I met Renton Laidlaw when I was 7. He was 22 and came to my parents house every Friday for tea ahead of his column for the Edinburgh Evening News. He was my mentor at the start of my TV career. A gifted broadcaster, an exceptional man in every way. Many hearts are sore tonight.❤️— Ewen Murray (@ewenmurray77) October 12, 2021
Former world feed commentator Dougie Donnelly:
So terribly sad to hear tonight that a dear friend and colleague has gone. Renton Laidlaw was an outstanding writer and broadcaster, held in genuine affection by everyone he worked with, and a great support to me and to so many others over the years. He will be very sadly missed.— Dougie Donnelly (@dougiedonnelly) October 12, 2021
BBC Golf correspondent Iain Carter:
So sorry to hear that the great Renton Laidlaw has passed away. The voice of golf on BBC radio for so many years; a mentor, a colossus of the golfing media, a fine presenter of the old Sport on Two back in the day and above all an absolute gentleman, loved by all.— Iain Carter (@iaincartergolf) October 13, 2021
Golf Channel contributor Rich Lerner:
Before @GolfChannel launched in the 90s golf in America was mostly an afternoon viewing experience. @EuropeanTour changed that, all those comfortable mornings with Renton Laidlaw as our tour guide. Wasn’t it just the most pleasant trip? @GolfChannel forever grateful for Renton. https://t.co/PkAZi3GG89— Rich Lerner (@RichLernerGC) October 13, 2021
The Confederation of Professional Golf:
We are saddened to hear about the passing of Renton Laidlaw, at the age of 82. The legendary golf broadcaster covered 165 majors including 58 Opens and 42 Masters, and was the recipient of the 2018 CPG Special Recognition Award. Our condolences go out to his family at this time. pic.twitter.com/O8602mxRnu— Confederation of Professional Golf [CPG] (@cpg_golf) October 13, 2021
Broadcaster Kirsty Gallacher:
A very sad day today for my family and the global golf family with the sudden passing of our dear Renton Laidlaw. I am actually at a loss with this news. One of the greatest golf journalists & commentators of our time. Thank you Renton, we’ll miss you so much. Love you ❤️— Kirsty Gallacher (@TheRealKirstyG) October 13, 2021
Players also paid their own tributes to Laidlaw. Scotland’s most recent Major Champion Paul Lawrie said:
Very sad to hear of the passing of Renton Laidlaw a lovely man RIP Renton.— Paul Lawrie (@PaulLawriegolf) October 12, 2021
Six-time Major Champion Sir Nick Faldo:
Oh no thats very sad news. Renton documented my whole career from the 75 English Amateur on! He was the most trusted and fair, in the heat of finishing a bad round if i said something daft he'd say maybe you'd like to say that a different way! A very rare quality! RIP https://t.co/NElrWLzgyu— Sir Nick Faldo (@NickFaldo006) October 13, 2021
Four-time European Tour winner and Scottish Ryder Cup star, Stephen Gallacher:
Just heard the very sad news that Renton Laidlaw has passed away he was an absolute gentleman the true voice of golf RIP💚⛳️— Stephen Gallacher (@stevieggolf) October 13, 2021
European Ryder Cup legend, Ian Poulter: