In the often staid and structured world of golf, Simon Hobday was something different, bringing a puckish, often irreverent sense of humour, a solid game where he was acknowledged as one of the best ball-strikers in the game, and achieving a near-universal popularity because of it.
“Hobbers” died aged 76 on Thursday, and golf will be poorer for the passing of the man who won six times on the Sunshine Tour, including the 1971 South African Open, took the 1976 German Open and the 1979 Madrid Open on the European Tour, and counted one senior Major, the 1994 US Senior Open among his five titles between 1993 and 1995 on the American Champions Tour.
But on and off the course, there was always a story to bolster the Hobday legend. Like the tale they swear is true about him batting through the American badlands between one seniors tournament and another.
A Harley-Davidson, with blue lights flashing, pulled him over. The cop kicked the motorbike on to the stand, slowly removed his mirror sunglasses, hitched up his gunbelt, ambled over to the driver’s window and drawled: “Boy, ah’ve been waitin’ all day fer someone like you.”
Hobday’s off-the-cuff reply was instantaneous. “I got here as quick as I could,” he told the lawman.
Hobday was instantly recognisable on the course. His sense of colour coordination was at best nonexistent with his shirt often dragged loose on one side and flowing behind like a runaway spinnaker.
He will also be forever remembered for taking off his shoes and socks, rolling up his trousers and wading through the shallow water hazard at Kensington’s 18th hole after skipping an approach across the surface on to the green during the 1985 Tournament of Champions.
Hobday died after a long fight with cancer but he’ll remain a legend to anyone who watched him.