The Toner Brothers



Both John Joe and Jimmy Toner were of international class and given the opportunity would have made it into the big time.

They were, however very different. John Joe was a ‘natural’. To the casual observer it seemed as if the taking up of the stance, the address, the take away and the delivery of the stroke was one continuous, flowing action with little or no delay. His progress round the course was so quick that he earned himself a line in one of Bunter’s (J E Marshall) famous parodies.

“If John Joe took more than two hours flat, then I’d be surprised at that”

A lesson perhaps to the younger generation!

Jimmy, on the other hand had the same natural talent but was more analytical and methodical with the potential of becoming a first class professional. He practised until dark and even after dark. On one occasion, related by Bill Cleland, it was so dark he couldn’t see the flight of the ball, so he knelt down and examined his divot and forecast precisely where the shot would land. At other times, also late in the evening he would surreptitiously invade the premises of the local Rugby Club. From outside the playing area he would draw eight iron shots between the goalposts. That done he would then transfer to the opposite side of the pitch and fade the shots through the same posts - dedication indeed and a further lesson to the younger generation.

At an early age Jimmy moved to the London area where his golfing career blossomed. In addition to winning the Scratch Cup in Mourne in 1950 he was Club Champion eight other times at four different clubs.

Richmond Golf Club 1955 & 1956
Finchley Golf Club 1957 & 1958
Whitewebbs Golf Club 1963 & 1965
Crews Hill Golf Club 1966 & 1967

He led the Middlesex team in the Inter County Championship of South East England. The team were runners up in the Championship and Jimmy won the 3rd prize in the individual event.

It was at Crews Hill, in 1974, however, that he achieved his greatest success earning for himself the following paragraph in Crews Hill Diamond Jubilee Book.

“A notable success in the amateur ranks was achieved in 1958 when Geoff Mills won the Middlesex Amateur Championship. It was a feat to be outdone however, in 1974 when the irrepressible Irishman Jim Toner beat all the amateurs as well as all the professionals when he won the Middlesex Open Championship at Crews Hill, the first amateur to do so - a remarkable performance. Jim has since given much to the Club, not least his willingness as a low handicap player to play with and encourage any golfing devotee willing to listen and learn”.

Jimmy’s twin brother Gerry died in December 1994. He was a Past Captain and Past President of the Club and one of its greatest characters. Following his death Jimmy returned to Ireland and is once more a member of Mourne. Maybe some of our younger golfers, “willing to listen and learn”, will benefit from his tuition and example. The other three participants in the 1947 and 1950 All Ireland finals were J E Marshall, John Doran and Dan Rafferty. They were similar in two respects and vastly different in every other. All three were in the 4 to 6 handicap bracket and all three had nicknames.