Ray Saunders, a past President of Kent and a former chairman of the EGU Championship Committee, has accepted the nomination to become President Elect of England Golf for the year 2013 with a view to becoming President in 2014.
The 72 year old has been a keen supporter of golf and football for most of his life and is surprised and delighted to be considered for the presidency.
“I was surprised to be asked,” he said. “Surprised, because at times I haven’t conformed to convention. For example, when I was Chairman of the Championship Committee we changed the format of the English Amateur Championship, which didn’t go down well in certain quarters.
“But this is a massive honour and I don’t believe anyone from Kent has been president before. I can’t recall anyone and I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
Ray was born in Fulham just before the Second World War and joined the Metropolitan Police as a 19 year old. He stayed for seven years during which most of his duties were confined to the notorious area of Soho.
He also played for the Met soccer team which won the Police Championship in 1966, beating Liverpool at Anfield. He had earlier had trials with Fulham but was disappointed not to be signed when the likes of Alan Mullery and George Cohen were. However, he has always been, and remains, an avid Fulham fan.
On leaving the police in 1966, he and a partner went into wholesale and retail business with shops in Leytonstone, East London, selling confectionery and tobacco. That lasted until 1979 when another change came when he joined a firm of chartered accountants in the West End and became their financial advisor until he retired in 1999.
Living in Kent, he has been a member of the Mid Kent Golf Club for over 40 years and in 1986 was asked by the late Eric Green to run the county colts’ team. He did that for six years during which his youngsters won the South East League South and the playoffs against the South East North champions on two occasions.
Meanwhile, Ray became involved with a charity Channel swim. With five others, he completed the crossing from France to England to raise funds for the National Heart Foundation after losing several friends with heart problems.
Ray became Kent golf captain for four years in 1992, again winning the South East League and playoffs. Between 1996 and 1999, he completely revamped the county’s coaching system with improved results. In 1999, he became Kent President for four years and became the county’s representative on the South East and its voting member with the English Golf Union (EGU).
By then a qualified referee, he joined the EGU Championship Committee in 2000 and became chairman in 2006, again for four years.
He still acts as a referee for England Golf, Kent and various events in the south east but grows increasingly concerned about players not supporting county golf. “But I can see it from their viewpoint that they have so many tournaments to play in and you can’t blame them for furthering their golfing careers by doing so,” he adds.
Ray and his wife Eileen recently celebrated their Golden Wedding and they have two children, a boy and a girl, three grandchildren and another on the way.
Ray’s other passion is his ever-growing library of golf books, most of which are the histories of golf clubs. “I now have around 300 and am always looking to add to the collection,” he says.