Tributes paid to keen golfer

TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known Banchory man who died on Monday (December 30) while playing his final round of the year at the town's golf course.

Keen golfer Joseph Little, 64, was playing at Banchory Golf Club, where he was a member, with a group of friends when he collapsed and died from a suspected heart attack.

An ambulance crew attended the incident but Mr Little, a retired publican and fish merchant, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The father of two - who was known as Joe - was a lifelong golfer and was well-known as a hole-in-one- expert, having chalked up seven or eight aces in his career - the last one just a few months ago.

Mr Little and his beloved Golden Retriever Skye were a familiar sight walking in and around Banchory and he was also a well respected businessman, who along with his wife June, ran the Dee Bar in the town for a number of years in the 1980s.

Mr Little started his working career with the family fish merchant's business Joe Little Ltd, in Sinclair Road, Aberdeen, where he worked for many years.

Mr Little and his wife , who were married in 1969, then made their first venture into the pub trade when they bought the Barclay Hotel in Stonehaven, before moving to Banchory in the early 1980s and running the Dee Bar until they retired around 15 years ago.

Mrs Little was this week being comforted by the couple's daughters Laura, 32, and Joanne, 33, at the family home in Banchory.

Mrs Little said: “Joe was a very quiet man who lived for his golf, his garden, his family and his dog. He was a very good golfer and played off scratch for many years and I don't think he would have chosen any other way to go than playing the game he loved.”

Mr Little was a well-known face on the North-east golfing scene for many years and won a number of tournaments on the amateur circuit.

In his younger days, while he was a member at Murcar Golf Club, he formed a renowned partnership with Harry Bannerman who went to represent Great Britain in the Ryder Cup, and he also played with British Open Champion Paul Lawrie on a number of occasions when he was the assistant professional at Banchory Golf Club from 1986-1990.

A Banchory Golf Club spokesperson said: “Joe was a very nice and popular man and will be sadly missed at the club.

“ He usually had a game on a Monday with his friends and his collapse seemed to have happened very suddenly. The ambulance was there very quickly but there was nothing they could do.”

Family friend Sandy Urquhart, who was part of the group playing golf with Mr Little when he died, also paid tribute to him.

Mr Urquhart said: “We were just enjoying our usual Monday morning round of golf and Joe was playing as well as he always did. He had just made a birdie on the 15th and we were walking towards the 16th tee but sadly Joe never made it.

“Myself and my friends who new Joe so well are just devastated. We admired him both as a person and as a golfer - he was a super chap.”

Grampian Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and that a report would be sent to the procurator fiscal in Stonehaven.