As two of the greatest golfers of all time Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros might have been expected to get a tee time at the Old Course in St Andrews.
Instead the pair were forced to play an exhibition game in the unlikely setting of Ladybank as fans climbed trees to get the best view.
The 1983 battle remains the greatest moment in Ladybank Golf Club’s history and memories are being shared of the famous day to mark this week’s 35th anniversary.
Club historian, former Captain Bob Drummond, said: “We have had a number of glittering occasions, but nothing has ever matched the atmosphere generated on the day that the world’s two greatest golfers flew in to Ladybank.
“Ladybank was already enjoying an enhanced reputation, having been accorded Open qualifying status in 1978, but hosting such an occasion really put Ladybank on the national and international map.”
The famous duo were scheduled to play a head-to-head exhibition game on the Old Course to celebrate the re-opening of the most famous golf hotel in the world.
But the St Andrews Links Trust which controls play on all six of the town’s courses withdrew permission at the last minute, fearing it would cause too much disruption to the regular play, and Ladybank stepped in as the substitute venue.
Around 5,000 fans waited patiently in the sweltering heat as the helicopter carrying the stars arrived half-an-hour late to a thunderous roar of welcome.
Ballesteros took an early lead in the match and would eventually win by a resounding six shots with a record-equalling two under par 69.
“Only at St Andrews have I played before more enthusiastic crowds,” Nicklaus said afterwards.
The match took place just a week before the Open at Royal Birkdale.
“Seve says he has learned from me – now I have to start learning from him,” said Nicklaus.
“Seve has not won the Open in Scotland yet – but he will.
“He is going to win it many times.”
Nicklaus and Ballesteros were both made honorary members of Ladybank after the match.
They were presented with club ties by Ladybank captain Alastair Laing who told them: “We have decided to give you both the green tie to match your green US Masters jackets.”
A plaque inside the clubhouse commemorates the occasion.
Nicklaus, nicknamed The Golden Bear, is widely regarded as the greatest golfer of all time, winning a record 18 career major championships.
Ballesteros was a five-time major champion whose incomparable imagination and fiery personality made him one of the most significant figures in modern golf.
He died at the age of 54 in 2011 from complications of a cancerous brain tumour.
Ladybank and the Golden Bear
Former Ladybank golf professional Martin Gray played a pivotal role in bringing the match to the course.
He received a call from John Philp at the Old Course asking if Ladybank could accommodate the exhibition match.
However, the Ladybank Boys Open was scheduled to take place that Friday.
Mr Gray made a few calls and the tournament was moved to the morning with Nicklaus and Ballesteros playing in the afternoon.
The two greats ended up handing out the trophies to the junior winner and runner-up.
“That was the icing on the cake,” said Mr Gray.
“One trophy was called the Jack Trophy and one was called the Seve Trophy.”
Ironically just three years later, Mr Gray was drawn to play with Nicklaus in the third round at Turnberry in The Open.
Nicklaus was the US Masters champion and was asked at the press conference before his round about how he felt about partnering an unknown Scottish club pro.
He pointed out that he had met Mr Gray at Ladybank in 1983, and that he was looking forward to the game very much indeed.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Mr Gray.
“Jack was the Masters champion and there was a huge gallery following us.
“We both shot 75 on the day.”