In early August 2014, Brian Codd, former SAS officer and icon at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club near London, died of cancer just a few days before the beginning of the Carnegie Shield competition at Royal Dornoch in northeastern Scotland. I’d first met Brian at the Carnegie Shield competition and he’d sponsored my membership at Royal Mid-Surrey. He’d introduced me to former European PGA champion David Talbot and the group of gentlemen who play friendly matches every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Royal Mid-Surrey. We played together as partners many times and usually won because Brian always played well when I didn’t. Brian was a bit like an older brother to me.
He not only followed the rules, he enforced them. No mobile phone use on the course or even in the club house. Punctuality meant being ready early and starting on time. Golf has always been a game of high integrity and Brian was a guardian of golf’s integrity and etiquette.
Brian was of Irish descent, but you might’ve thought he was Dutch from his directness. Brian called things the way he saw them and spoke plainly and assertively. Some might have said that Brian complained a lot. He didn’t suffer fools and no shortcoming escaped his criticism.
Brian was a fixture among the group of gentlemen who played the afternoon “roll up” at Royal Mid-Surrey. Some were annoyed by his manner, but no one stayed away because of it. He was as an expected part of the experience. He was respected for his constancy. You could count on Brian to be Brian.
After his simple Benedictine memorial service at mid-day at Ealing Abbey, the family and the many Royal Mid-Surrey members who attended the service adjourned to the upstairs dining room at Royal Mid-Surrey for a luncheon reception. Some members who had turned out for Brian’s memorial service and reception confessed how they didn’t really like Brian, yet they had what they termed “massive respect” for him.
Like many people in life, Brian protected the boundaries for acceptable behavior. Perhaps he might have been even more endearing if he’d been more tactful, but he earned respect despite his blunt approach because he was willing to stand up for what he believed was right. People respected him because he was willing to say what they would’ve liked to have said.
The rule of law, business ethics and basic civility depend on people like Brian who preserve the boundaries for acceptable behavior. For the rest of my life, I will strive more than ever to be the best of what I saw in Brian. Perhaps with a bit more empathy for others, but with no less commitment to stand up for what is right. Rest in peace Brian. Others will pick up where you left off.