Compounding matters was the fact that the PGA annulled Brown’s membership when he couldn’t afford to pay his annual dues.
“The way that was handled was an absolute disgrace,” adds Colleen. “Okay, it was partly dad’s fault. Like I say, he was never particularly good at paperwork and it was really mum that kept on top of these sorts of things but, because she was so ill, it got missed – but they didn’t need to treat him like that.
“It stuck in the throat, not least because of how much he had done for Scottish golf. He had worked his butt off trying to secure sponsors for tournaments and such like. So, for them to turn around and do that to them, it was a real kick in the guts. It broke his heart. It really did and I don’t think people realised just how much it affected him. I still get really angry about it. It was so petty.”
After a series of progressively worsening strokes, Brown passed away on March 6, 1986. He was 61 but, in Colleen’s words, ‘an old 61’. “In the mid 1980s, I was living out in the Middle East,” she says. “I came home to visit shortly before he died and, at first, I didn’t recognise him. He had aged so much. That was the last time I saw him. I remember thinking that, if he had another stroke, I hoped that it would kill him.
“It sounds a horrible thing to say but I couldn’t bear to see what had become of him. At 61, he was an old man and he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t play golf anymore. He had virtually given up.”
“In my opinion,” says Alan Herron, “Eric deserves to be remembered as the most exciting Scottish golfer of his era. He was an extrovert, a showman, always ready to talk, and a helluva golfer.”
Renton Laidlaw adds: “Eric was a very genuine guy, the sort of person who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was a straight talker and never one to mince his words.”
However, the final word should surely go to Colleen. “To most people, he was ‘Eric Brown, golfer’ but to my brother and I, he was just dad,” she says. “It’s funny, I worked at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. I marshalled for the whole week and thought about dad the whole time.
“I think about him often. I try, whenever possible, to go and play courses that he liked or was successful on and he’s the first person I think about whenever I stand on the first tee, especially in competitions. I think, ‘Come on, dad, what would you do here?’ He was a wonderful golfer, yes. But he was an even better father.”