AFTER more than 25 years as one of Hampshire’s leading administrators, Barry Morgan, a former army major, is standing easy after standing down from his post as Hampshire Golf Union president, writes Andrew Griffin.

But the former Liphook Golf Club secretary, who served at the Wheatsheaf Encolosure for 17 years and spent seven years as county secretary before his three-year spell as president, is already enjoying his new Battle after swapping his long-time Hill Brow home, for retirement by the Sussex coast at historic Battle, near Hastings.

Barry bowed out at the Hampshire Golf Union AGM and handed the badge of office to Blackmoor’s John Moore, who has run the county’s junior set-up for four years.

He leaves the county’s elite squads in great shape, with more competitive golf being played at junior, colts, men’s and seniors level than ever before in Hampshire’s 121-year history.

The men’s first team reached the English County Finals for the fifth time in nine years, the Under-21s shared the South-East Colts title, while the juniors missed out at the English Boys Finals for the third time in four years.

The county seniors reached the South-East Group Final for the second time since 2009, finally getting the better of Kent, but narrowly losing out to Hertfordshire.

Hampshire’s record easily eclipses that arch rivals Surrey and Kent & Essex who have been the powerhouses of the 11-county South East Division since 2000.

The president is the figurehead who is seen out on the course supporting the players who represent Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Channel Islands.

The county captain and coaches shape and guide the players, but it’s the man at the top who sets the tone and gives the lead at the golf union’s own tournaments and inter-county matches.

Barry Morgan has been an upstanding and very proud figure out on the course, having seen Corhampton’s Scott Gregory reach the English Amateur final last year and Billy McKenzie, from Rowlands Castle, pick up the Berkshire Trophy – one of amateur golf’s most prestigious titles.

He said: “Believe you me, there is no better feeling when you are at an event and it’s a Hampshire team or player who has won “And it’s even better when it happens on such a regular basis as it has over the last three years.

“I would like to thank all the individuals and clubs for the support I have had, not just as county president but also as county secretary.

“The person I’m most grateful to is my wife, Shirley, as without her blessing and support, my career in golf which began as secretary of Liphook back in 1989, would not have been possible.”

Shirley’s rock-solid support has been most valuable to Barry over the past 12 months, following his quadruple heart bypass operation nearly a year ago.

Under strict doctor’s orders, he managed to stay away from the golf course for all of two months.

His recovery and return to fitness was tested by another long list of engagements – lengthened by the county’s success in reaching two regional and two national finals and preparing for his move to Sussex.

He told club secretaries and representatives at the AGM: “I’m eternally grateful to you all for having placed your faith in me when you elected me as county president three years ago.”

He paid tribute to the county’s sponsors, Taylor MadeAdidas (Basingstoke), who have kitted out the county teams in their light blue shirts with the Hampshire Hog emblem, dark blue trousers and caps.

“I say it every year and make no apologies for saying it again, the number of compliments we get from other counties with regard to how smart our teams look makes one feel incredibly proud.”

He also thanked the clubs that have hosted the county championships, league matches and training days.

“The support we get from clubs, their members and staff is second to none.”