Growing up at the Brow o’ The Hill and catching the golfing bug
A fascinating book telling the continuing life story of one of West Norfolk’s most famous sporting sons, Brian Twite, has been published in Australia.
Brian’s book, written by Gillian Ednie, is called Just Magnificent: Lessons From A Life In Golf and is a follow-on from his first biography, Rubbing Shoulders With Greats.
Just how great the esteem is that Brian is held in by the golfing world is clear from the start of the book, with a whole series of forewords, including the legendary Gary Player.
Player says he and Brian have shared “a special bond as friends”.
Brian, who now lives in Melbourne, is 92. But he was born in Leziate, one of 12 children, and he still has many relatives living there.
His sister, regular Lynn News correspondent Wendy Twite, said: “Brian is still teaching golf part-time. The book includes news cuttings which were in the Lynn News throughout years past and includes family life in Leziate, Ashwicken School, the church and Leziate Golf Club.
“Brian’s brother, Nigel, sisters, Daphne, Dale, Brenda Allen and myself, still live in Leziate and Ashwicken and, of course, lots of family members.
“His brother Terry is also in Melbourne and sister Sadie is in New Jersey, USA.”
The book goes back to Brian’s very beginnings on the day of his birth on August 23, 1926, in Leziate.
He was the fourth child of 12 children. His father was William and mother Sylvia (nee Panks) who had grown up in the village.
He recalls: “Our home life was very good. There were only about eight houses in the village and about 15 children around my age. We had a wonderful time.
“We all went to each other’s houses to play cards and sports and got along very well with each other.
“In those days there was no television, so you made your own fun and sport around the village.
“Fortunately it was a very happy and healthy village. I’m not sure about now, but when I left there were 15 people over 90. They put it down to water and turnips. There were always plenty of turnips.
“I remember we’d just take a turnip out of the garden and eat it on the way to school.”
Brian has his mother to thank for his life-long love of golf.
At a very early age she took him and some of his siblings along to the neighbouring golf club to play in the sand bunker near the 14th green.
“She’d give us a bucket and spade and we’d spend an hour there building sandcastles, running up and down the face of the bunker and doing everything we liked.
“The thing that amazed me most was that when my mother came back to pick us up, she always brought a rake.
“I used to say to myself, ‘What the hell has she got a rake for?’ And she’d spend 10 minutes raking the bunker so it looked like we had never been in it. The members wouldn’t get around to the 14th hole until 2pm, so nobody from the club ever knew we played there. We used to do that once or twice a week.”
Brian lived at Brow o’ The Hill, 1 Council House, Leziate, in a three-bedroom cottage next to the golf course. They slept four to a bed, top to toe “which worked until we were about nine”.
“I don’t know why, but I was the favourite. I couldn’t do anything wrong. Everybody got into trouble, but I never did, not from my mother at least and I did help her wherever I could. Dad would smack us all if we were naughty, but Mum wouldn’t.”
The geographical advantage of being right next door to that golf club set him on the path that was to dominate his life.
Aged four he found his first golf ball, got a stick and started knocking it about. “I was four and I was hooked.
“I was hitting golf balls with practically every spare minute I had.
“As a village boy, if I hadn’t started then I would still have got to golf later by caddying when I was eight, but I wouldn’t have had all those years of excitement of hitting a ball 30, 40 yards when I was six and seven and using an old stick.”