Former LET member Claire Lipscombe died suddenly Friday, at the age of 43, after working on a Challenge Tour event for the European Tour in the Czech Republic.
A week ago, Claire had a cardiac arrest during the tournament and was taken to Saint Anne’s University Hospital in Brno.
She got the best possible round-the-clock care, but after a week in the hospital’s intensive care unit, it became sadly clear that she would not recover. She passed away peacefully on Friday morning in the company of her father, Roy, and her sister, Katie.
European Tour CEO and LET Board Member Keith Bailey expressed the sense of loss felt by the golf community in an email to staff. He said: “It goes without saying that all our thoughts and prayers are with Roy and Katie today as well as Claire’s mother Sylvia, who due to her health was unable to travel to the Czech Republic.
“It is true to say that some people in life simply radiate joy and happiness – and that to me was Claire. Every time I see her in the office here at Wentworth or at one of our tournaments, she has a smile on her face and greets me with a welcoming chuckle. It’s devastating to think None of us will enjoy such a welcome again.”
Claire began working on the European Tour on March 31, 2014, and from then until the end of 2019 she took on the role of PA to David Garland and John Paramor as well as being the tournament coordinator. At the beginning of 2020, she moved on to work permanently in the field, taking on the responsibilities of Tournament Desk Manager and Event Recorder across all three European Tour tournaments.
Prior to that, Claire worked at the Wentworth Club where she was the Golf Events Manager, a role that included managing all of Wentworth’s corporate golf days.
Claire wasn’t flabby inside the ropes either. A hugely successful amateur career saw her win a large number of titles, two of the most notable; In 1999 when she won the English Women’s Stroke Play Championship; And in 2001, when, along with fellow left-back and former European Tour pro Stuart Little, she won the prestigious Sunningdale Foursomes, beating Jimmy Spence and LET pro Trish Johnson 2 and 1 in the final.
Such was her ability that she decided to turn professional in 2003 and was a member of LET from then until 2010. Her tour friends shared their memories of her during the last round of the London Aramco Series at the Centurion Club.
Becky Brewerton commented: “I knew Claire mainly from amateur golf and also from playing here on LET. I used to take Mickey out of her for being a classy girl, because she could pronounce all her words right and I couldn’t. She was a really bubbly personality and fit the violin. In much better shape than the rest of us.” I’m so sad for her family and all her friends, they’re going to fall apart. It’s horrible. I can’t believe it.”
Felicity Johnson commented: “She was a few years older than me but when I used to play at amateur events in England she was always someone to turn to if I needed advice on how the system worked and where to stay. I could always ask her any questions I needed and she was always a friendly face around the golf course” .
Rebecca Hudson wrote: “Claire was such an amazing character and I’ve played with her in teams. Even if I didn’t see her for years, we’d see each other and it was like we’d been talking all the time. She was the happiest, most caring, fun, smart person I had the pleasure to know we all share memories this morning. And I hope you knew how much we all thought of her, even if we didn’t talk all the time. She was such a special character and a huge loss.”
Wearing a black ribbon on her hat, Emma Cabrera Bello, who recently worked with Claire on the European Tour, commented: “It’s very sad news. She was so young and it’s one of those things that surprises you. I had no words when I heard the news.
“One of my last memories of Claire was just six weeks ago, when we had a great afternoon in Tenerife and this was my last event on the tour. We went down to the beach and enjoyed the sunset with friends and a bit of Prosecco. She was always willing to join in and give Smiling with her and that’s what I want to keep remembering her. I literally lost my words. She was a wonderful friend and fellow player, so she is a treasured part of the golf community.”
At this weekend’s European Tour tournaments in Scotland and France, half-mast flags were raised and black ribbons were provided to all players, codes and staff to pay their respects.
At both The Renaissance Club and Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil, the European Tour placed a red rose on a pedestal on the first tees in question as this was a direct request from the Claire family to symbolize the English rose in everyone’s thoughts.