Isle of Man golf mourns the passing of legend Godfrey Kelly

Kell managed to get his name on the prestigious island golf championship trophy on two occasions - in 1981 and 1988 (Photo: Richard Power)

Kell managed to get his name on the prestigious island golf championship trophy on two occasions - in 1981 and 1988 (Photo: Richard Power)

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The Isle of Man golfing community was stunned last Thursday as news filtered through of the sudden death overnight of two-time island champion Godfrey Kelly.

A couple of days earlier on Boxing Day he was in his usual fun-loving form during and after the annual Jimmy Patrick Cup competition at Peel Golf Club.

Godfrey Kelly was a legendary figure in Manx golf (Photo: Robbie Radcliffe)

Godfrey Kelly was a legendary figure in Manx golf (Photo: Robbie Radcliffe)

It was on the ‘City Tour‘ afterwards with all his close friends at the club that you soon realised, if in his company, that here was a man who through work and sport had made so many friends and everyone just loved to listen to what he had to say on any subject you cared to mention.

While his early days in sport were spent on the other side of the fence of Peel GC’s 18th fairway kicking around a bigger ball, few realised that for more than 40 years the name of Godfrey Kelly - or ‘Kell’ as he was more widely known - would have such an impact on island golf as he, like many former footballers, took up the smaller ball game.

He managed to get his name on most of the annual trophies and cemented his arrival into the sport when first making the last 16 of the island golf championship on his home course in 1978.

He found the form of another new kid on the block, Gary Wilson, too hot to handle and went out in the first round but then, like everyone from Peel at the time, gave great support to club-mate Ray Teare who made it through to the final but lost out to Wilson as well.

Godfrey Kelly represented the island in the Senior Northern Counties on numerous occasions. Kell is pictured here on the right of the front row alongside (back, l-r) Geoff Skillicorn, Foley Vereker, Stephen Keegan and Roy Norman. (Front)  John McMullan and captain Roy Moore

Godfrey Kelly represented the island in the Senior Northern Counties on numerous occasions. Kell is pictured here on the right of the front row alongside (back, l-r) Geoff Skillicorn, Foley Vereker, Stephen Keegan and Roy Norman. (Front) John McMullan and captain Roy Moore

It was all good news a few years later in 1981 when in extra-time Kell put his name on the championship trophy for the first time by beating another Manx golfing legend. Julian Sutton, at the 37th hole.

Another win followed in 1988 at Ramsey when in poor weather conditions Godfrey beat Sam Boyd by the margin of 5 and 3.

In his career Kell qualified for the match play stages of the championship on no fewer than 23 occasions and in his latter years won the Bob Cowin Trophy for over-50s four times.

He was also the winner of the TABS Senior Championship Trophy on five occasions - I think it is more than this prior to having this trophy to compete for.

Appearances for the Isle of Man at the Northern Counties and Senior Counties over the years formed new friendships and the response from the Counties expressing their sincere sympathy reflect on the high esteem in which Kell was held.

Always in search of golfing perfection, nobody practised harder in their career than Godfrey Kelly. If a new golfing item - be it clubs, balls etc - was announced then you could guarantee that Tynwald Close in Peel would have viewed and used it.

Many are the tributes being made through many outlets at the moment and it is lovely to see the genuine respect in tributes from the younger players who were helped and given good advice in their early days by the Peel legend.

It will be difficult to apprehend that, when playing at Peel from now on, we will never hear again the chant of ‘Come on Peel!’ be it out on the course or at the presentation.

Many are the stories which will be recalled over the years to come and at this sad time the thoughts of everyone goes out to Judy and Chris at their sudden loss.

From being entertaining behind the counter in the family butcher shop and all those years being a true supporter of all things Peel, Godfrey Kelly has left us with so many memories that will keep us smiling for many years to come.

In a year which has seen so many people leave us, it is our belief things will have brightened up far away and many will be the pop quizzes to entertain.

Sadly not for us anymore but farewell dear friend and, on behalf of all those that knew you and all the lovely memories you have left, swing well into the future - you will be sadly missed but forever remembered.

Godfrey’s funeral service will take place on Tuesday, January 10 at 2pm in St German’s Cathedral, Peel.

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