Neil Chapman Coles, MBE (born 26 September 1934) is an English professional golfer. Coles had a successful career in European golf, winning 29 important tournaments between 1956 and 1982. After reaching 50, he won a further 14 important Seniors tournaments between 1985 and 2002, winning his final European Seniors Tour event at the age of 67. He also played in eight Ryder Cup matches between 1961 and 1977.
|Full name||Neil Chapman Coles|
|Born||26 September 1934|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||182 lb (83 kg; 13.0 st)|
|Former tour(s)||European Tour|
European Seniors Tour
|Number of wins by tour|
|European Senior Tour||9|
|Best results in major championships|
|Masters Tournament||WD: 1966|
|The Open Championship||T2: 1973|
|Achievements and awards|
Coles was born in London, England, and grew up in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. He started out as a junior golfer at Letchworth Golf Club. A 16-handicapper when he turned professional at age 16, Coles was initially sponsored by his businessman father after a spell as an assistant club professional at Letchworth Golf Club and then at Coombe Hill Golf Club in Kingston, Surrey, under head professional and 1939 Open Champion Dick Burton. Thereafter, he spent all of his time practicing and playing, what he later called "the big turnaround in my life." By age 21 he was winning the Hertfordshire Open, beating, among others, nine-time Ryder Cup player Dai Rees.
While he never became one of the leading stars of global golf, and did not win a major championship, Coles was remarkable for his consistency, and even more for his durability. He was five times a top-ten finisher in the Open Championship, finishing third in 1961 and second in 1973, although arguably his closest chances came in 1970 (when he led after a first-round 65 and was only 3 off the lead going into the final round) and 1975 (where he followed second and third rounds of 69 and 67 with a 74 at Carnoustie, when a 70 would have earned him the Claret Jug). He led the British Order of Merit in both 1963 and 1970, and maintained a top-ten position in the Merit List for almost every year of the 1960s and 1970s. He was ranked 7th in the world on the inaugural Mark McCormack's world golf rankings in December 1968, a position he regained at the end of 1970. In 1982 at the age of 48 he won the Sanyo Open in Spain and held the distinction of being the oldest winner of a European Tour event for nearly 20 years. Even at the peak of his career, he made few appearances in the United States because of his fear of flying.
He accumulated a 5-6-4 singles record in eight Ryder Cup appearances, tied most singles points won in the Ryder Cup history, all his appearances in a winless period of time for the Great Britain/Ireland team, two of Coles' losses coming against Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino. He played in three Ryder Cups in the United States and went by boat to all three because of his fear of flying. During the 1967 matches, he bet Doug Sanders twice in the same day, on the Sanders home ground at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. Billy Casper is another notable name on Coles' hit list, along with former Masters champion Tommy Aaron.
He finished in the top ten on the European Seniors Tour's Order of Merit eight times between 1992 and 2000. Coles was the winner of the inaugural Senior British Open Championship. In 2002, during which season he turned 68, he finished eleventh. In that year he won the Lawrence Batley Seniors at the age of 67 years and 276 days, beating his own record for the oldest winner of a European Seniors Tour event, set in 2000. He also had a third-place finish in 2003. His final win tally on the Senior Tour was nine. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.
Coles was, since its inception in the 1980s, until November 2013, the chairman of the PGA European Tour's board of directors, when he was replaced by David Williams. He is also a golf course architect designing courses such as Chartham Park.
Coles married Ann Keep, after growing up together in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. They had two sons, Keith and Gary. Ann died in 2015. Gary was also a professional golfer and followed his father by winning the PGA Assistants' Championship in 1985, 29 years after his father.
Professional wins (50)Edit
Great Britain and Ireland wins (22)Edit
Continental Europe wins (3)Edit
|Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|24 Aug 1963||Engadine Open||276||2 strokes||Stewart Davies, Abdel Halim Kahoul|
|29 Mar 1970||Italian BP Open||69-73-72-68=282||3 strokes||Valentín Barrios|
|25 Jul 1971||German Open||69-71-71-68=279||4 strokes||Peter Thomson|
European Tour wins (7)Edit
|Penfold PGA Championships (1)|
|Other European Tour (6)|
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||1 Jul 1972||Sunbeam Electric Scottish Open||−5 (72-72-70-69=283)||Playoff||Brian Huggett|
|2||14 Apr 1973||Spanish Open||−6 (67-71-72-72=282)||3 strokes||Tienie Britz, Craig Defoy|
|3||26 May 1973||Benson & Hedges Match Play Championship||2 up||Doug McClelland|
|4||21 Sep 1974||W.D. & H.O. Wills Tournament||−5 (68-69-73-73=283)||1 stroke||Jack Newton|
|5||31 May 1976||Penfold PGA Championship||E (70-69-71-70=280)||Playoff||Eamonn Darcy, Gary Player|
|6||10 Sep 1977||Tournament Players Championship||−4 (76-70-73-69=288)||1 stroke||Peter Dawson|
|7||10 Oct 1982||Sanyo Open||−14 (71-67-64-64=266)||1 stroke||Gary Cullen|
European Tour playoff record (2–1)
|1||1972||Sunbeam Electric Scottish Open||Brian Huggett||Won on second extra hole|
|2||1976||Penfold PGA Championship||Eamonn Darcy, Gary Player||Won with par on third extra hole|
Player eliminated by par on first hole
|3||1978||Benson & Hedges International Open||Noel Ratcliffe, Lee Trevino||Trevino won with par on fourth extra hole|
Ratcliffe eliminated by par on first hole
Other wins (6)Edit
this list is incomplete
- 1962 Sunningdale Foursomes (with Ross Whitehead)
- 1967 Sunningdale Foursomes (with Keith Warren)
- 1970 Sumrie Better-Ball (with Bernard Hunt), Southern Professional Championship
- 1973 Sumrie Better-Ball (with Bernard Hunt)
- 1980 Sunningdale Foursomes (with Doug McClelland)
Senior Circuit wins (5)Edit
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||28 Jul 1985||Trusthouse Forte PGA Seniors Championship||−4 (72-67-70-75=284)||2 strokes||Christy O'Connor Snr|
|2||3 Aug 1986||Trusthouse Forte PGA Seniors Championship||−4 (71-70-67-68=276)||1 stroke||Peter Butler|
|3||21 Jun 1987||Trusthouse Forte PGA Seniors Championship||−13 (66-73-67-73=206)||4 strokes||Peter Thomson|
|4||26 Jul 1987||Seniors British Open||−1 (66-73-67-73=279)||1 stroke||Bob Charles|
|5||18 Jun 1989||Trusthouse Forte PGA Seniors Championship||+1 (71-66-72-68=277)||4 strokes||Peter Butler|
European Senior Tour wins (9)Edit
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||4 Oct 1992||Collingtree Homes Seniors Classic||+2 (72-72-74=218)||3 strokes||John Fourie, Hugh Jackson|
|2||23 May 1993||Gary Player Seniors Classic||E (76-66-71=213)||2 strokes||George Will|
|3||26 Aug 1995||Collingtree Seniors (2)||−5 (71-72-68=211)||4 strokes||Brian Barnes|
|4||22 Jun 1997||Ryder Collingtree Seniors Classic (3)||−8 (68-71-69=208)||7 strokes||Antonio Garrido, Brian Waites|
|5||31 May 1998||Philips PFA Golf Classic||−13 (67-69-67=203)||Playoff||David Jones|
|6||1 Aug 1999||Energis Senior Masters||−11 (68-69-68=205)||1 stroke||David Huish|
|7||22 Aug 1999||Dalmahoy Scottish Seniors Open||−10 (69-68-69=206)||1 stroke||Jerry Bruner, Jay Dolan|
|8||4 Jun 2000||Microlease Jersey Seniors Open||−9 (66-71-70=207)||3 strokes||Jerry Bruner|
|9||29 Jun 2002||Lawrence Batley Seniors||−4 (72-67-70=209)||Playoff||David Creamer, Steve Stull|
Other senior wins (1)Edit
- 1991 Léman International Senior Trophy
Results in major championshipsEdit
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT||T21|
|The Open Championship||CUT||T3||T20||CUT||T12||CUT||T36||T6||T11|
|The Open Championship||T6||T22||CUT||T2||T13||7||T28||T41||T48||WD|
|The Open Championship||T29||T39||T42||CUT||CUT||CUT|
CUT = missed the half-way cut (3rd round cut in 1972, 1983 and 1984 Open Championships)
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place
|The Open Championship||0||1||1||2||5||11||27||18|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 6 (1973 Open Championship – 1978 Open Championship)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (five times)
- Ryder Cup (representing Great Britain and Ireland): 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1977
- World Cup (representing England): 1963, 1968
- R.T.V. International Trophy (representing England): 1967 (winners)
- Double Diamond International (representing England): 1971 (winners), 1973, 1975 (captain), 1976 (winners), 1977
- Marlboro Nations' Cup/Philip Morris International (representing England): 1973, 1975
- Sotogrande Match/Hennessy Cognac Cup (representing Great Britain and Ireland): 1974 (winners), 1976 (winners), 1978 (winners), 1980 (winners)
- Praia d'El Rey European Cup: 1998 (tie), 1999
- "About us - Neil Coles MBE". Neil Coles and Associates. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- "Golf History". Letchworth Golf Club.
- Huggan, John (25 September 2019). "The greatest golfer Americans have never heard of". Golf Digest.
- "Old King Coles is a merry old soul". The Scotsman. 27 May 2007.
- "Coles wins by one". The Vindicator. Associated Press. 27 July 1987. p. 14.
- Carter, Iain (2 December 2013). "European Tour appoints first non-professional chairman". BBC Sport.
- "Ann Coles: obituary". European Tour. 30 June 2015.
- "Gary a chip off old Coles block". The Glasgow Herald. 17 August 1985. p. 19.
- Ryde, Peter (18 October 1971). "Top prize to Coles for third time". The Times. p. 9. Retrieved 21 April 2020 – via The Times Digital Archive.
- "Coles wins by 8 strokes". The Glasgow Herald. 19 October 1970. p. 5. Retrieved 21 April 2020 – via Google News Archive.