|The restored headstone|
South Ayrshire Council had ordered the headstone of the 1907 winner to be removed from the Prestwick cemetery when it was deemed unsafe in 2011.
But following extensive restoration work the stone is now back in place as a fitting tribute to a golfer whose father, Charlie, was a contemporary of Old Tom Morris – arguably the most famous name in Scottish golf.
Hunter was one of the four sons of the famous Prestwick professional Charlie, who was one of the eight competitors in the first Open Championship in 1860.
Hunter junior also played in The Open a number of times, his best finish being a sixth place in the 1898 Open at Prestwick.
He won the first Scottish Professional Championship at Panmure Barry in 1907 with a score of 304 over four rounds, which included a record round of 71 in the third round.
Like two of his brothers, David, who enjoyed a 29-year tenure at Essex County Country Club in New Jersey, and William, John emigrated to live in America but returned after a short period to Prestwick and went into business with his father, producing clubs stamped C&J Hunter.
The significance of the grave only came to light 10 years ago when Prestwick golf historian Alasdair Malcolm was undertaking research in the library and stumbled across an article from 1907 on Hunter’s Scottish PGA triumph and put two and two together in terms of identifying the grave.
Subsequently when the council ordered the headstone to be taken down, Malcolm contacted The PGA in Scotland secretary, Brian Mair to see if The PGA could assist in restoring it.
“I just thought it was a little sad that somebody who had been quite a force in Scottish golf in his time and an accomplished golfer should not be remembered in a more fitting way so asked Brian if there was anything the PGA could do to help restore the gravestone,” said Malcolm.
“What brought it to my mind was seeing an article about Arnaud Massy, the first foreigner to win an Open, whose grave was discovered in a neglected graveyard in Edinburgh when he had previously been thought to have been buried in France.”
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones commented: “When Alasdair Malcolm alerted us to the plight of the gravestone we were more than happy to honour the memory of one of the PGA’s pioneering pros by restoring the stone work.
“John Hunter was part of a great Scottish tradition of PGA Professionals that helped shape golf around the world including America where he lived for a while along with two of his brothers.
“As the world’s oldest Professional Golfers’ Association the PGA is proud of its heritage and those early pros like John Hunter who set the benchmarks to which we still aspire to this day.”