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Ray Billows: The Cinderella Kind The Unlikely and Colourful Story of a World Class Amateur Golfer By Tom Buggy

Release date: 19th January, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace

List Price: £19.99
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Ray Billows, aka The Cinderella Kid, was born in 1914 shortly before his family moved to Racine, Wisconsin. Young Ray caddied at a local golf club, which must have seemed like a different world to the one from which he came, a depressed neighbourhood where money was short and long-term unemployment a consequence of a prolonged economic downturn.

While caddying gave him some pocket money, it also engendered a deep love of golf and a self-taught golf swing.

Aged 18, Ray moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, where he found work as a shipping clerk; he would stay until his retirement in 1969, but in the meantime worked on his golf and in 1935 qualified for the New York State Golf Association Men’s Amateur Championship at Winged Foot.

Short of funds, Ray bought an old Ford two-door convertible, known as a ‘Flivver’, for $15, which he intended to use as transport and hotel accommodation, but unfortunately it gave up the ghost just as he was parking in front of the clubhouse. It would be the only smidgeon of ill fortune he would suffer that week as he captured the championship by defeating Jack Creavy in a 37-hole final.

Billows won after making a 10-foot putt in spite of having been ‘laid a stymie’ by Creavy; he simply chipped over Creavy’s ball and into the hole.

He went on to win a record six further NYSGA titles, while nationally, he competed in 15 US Men’s Amateur Championships, reaching the final three times, but losing on each occasion. He also twice represented the US in the Walker Cup and played twice in the Masters, where he shot a hole in one and received, but never cashed, a $1 cheque from Bobby Jones after bettering him in a practice round.

Byron Nelson called him “the best long iron player in the game, amateur or professional,” while Bobby Jones, watching him play in 1937, was astounded at his versatility: “I don’t believe anyone else in the world could hit that shot but Ray Billows,” he commented.

The Cinderella Kid is just a great story of a courteous, affable gentleman of humble origins who summed up his approach to golf and life as follows: “Being a good winner is mighty easy, but it is so important to be a good loser. I guess that I have had plenty of practice in the latter.”

If only some of today’s snarling sportsmen and women could adopt a similar attitude…


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