John O’Leary will never forget his 1982 Irish Open win at Portmarnock. Nor has he forgotten the man who caddied for him that memorable week.
The caddie with the bow tie stands out in Golf Ireland’s “Greening in the Years” video of Irish Open highlights from Woodbrook in 1975 to Jamie Donaldson’s triumph at Royal Portrush last season.
We wondered who he was and forner Ryder Cup star O’Leary had no problem remembering a character who was once mobbed by dozens of girls when toting the bag for Ronnie Shade in Scotland.
“We remain very close friends to this day,” O’Leary said. “He now lives in Australia and his name is Colin Johnson. He’s from Belfast and his nickname was Bowie after David Bowie because of his build.
“He was very skinny and he was a ringer for Bowie with the same hair and everything. In the 70s a couple of times, he was chased by 60 or 70 girls. He was a great character, a great, great character.
“He caddied for me throughout the 70s and then he stopped and he would come down from Belfast for the Irish Open because he was just settling down at that stage. But he had been away on tour with me for years.
“The bow tie? He was just a character. There were a lot of them around in those days.
“He was actually a legendary figure. When he first appeared on a golf course, he was a ringer for Bowie, so much so that when he was with Ronnie Shade up on Scotland at a tournament one time, about 50 young girls flew out from behind the ropes and beat him to the ground. It was incredible.”