Percy Huggins, golf writer and fighter pilot; born November 26, 1912, died October 3, 2000

Except for his wartime service as a fighter pilot for which he won the Distinguished Flying Cross, Percy Huggins, who died this week aged 87, devoted most of his working life to golf.

His first job was a tea merchant's clerk in London, but by 1935 he was back in Scotland

as golf correspondent of the Evening Times and was a founder member three years later of the Association of Golf Writers, going on to become chairman and then president. The AGW held a minute's silence in his memory at Wentworth on Wednesday at their annual championship before the World Matchplay Championship. He was editor of Golf Monthly from 1957 to 1981 during which time he also edited the sport's essential reference, the Golfers' Handbook. Thereafter, he edited Golf World Scotland, all the time preaching that quality instructional coverage was the secret of success for a golf magazine. He was, moreover, the BBC's radio voice of golf in Scotland for more than 25 years.

In 1990, he won the Memorial Golf Journalism Award, installing him in the Hall of Fame at Jack Nicklaus's Memorial club in Ohio, bracketing him with previous winners such as literary

legends Henry Longhurst and Bernard Darwin.

One of his last tasks was to write the history of Cathcart Castle Golf Club, where he was a member, on their centenary in 1995. The one-time school captain of cricket at Hyndland played golf left-handed and, though regular Saturday work meant he never had the time to gain an official handicap, he once played off a society mark of five.

Golf even played a bizarre part in him becoming a fighter pilot. With 104 Squadron, he flew more than 70 missions, the most celebrated of which was a daylight bombing raid in 1941 successfully disabling three German warships in Brest Harbour, for which he was awarded the DFC.

That might never have come about had Englishman Alf Padgham not won the 1936 Open at Hoylake, the first Open covered by young Huggins, who delighted in the tale of what happened when he volunteered for the Royal Air Force in the hope of becoming a navigator.

With a mischievous glint in his eye at the curious twist of fate, he related: ''I made elementary mistakes on maths questions and thought I had ruined my chances until the wing commander learned I was a golf writer and had met Alf Padgham, who was the professional at his club. I was recommended for training not as a navigator but as a pilot.''

Less than meritorious the selection may have been, but he applied himself, proved his worth - and then some. By the end of the war he was a squadron leader flying troops to the Far East. He considered a peacetime career as a civilian pilot but opted instead for a return to golf at a time when the amateur game was just as important, if not more so, than the professional one.

In that light, his personal highlights were witnessing Hector Thomson's Amateur Championship win at St Andrews in 1936, the first success by a home Scot for 22 years, and at the

same venue two years later attending Great Britain and Ireland's first Walker Cup win. In 1951, he was the first Scottish journalist to be sent to cover

the Ryder Cup in America, on that occasion at Pinehurst.

In the Huggins mind, though, nothing could dislodge American Ben Hogan, Open winner in 1953 at Carnoustie in his one and only attempt, as the finest striker of the ball he ever saw.

With that background, he was regarded as a walking, talking history book of golf and his death marks a lost link with the past though his prolific chronicles will endure.

Curiously, he was born of English parents in London where he spent the first few months of his life. That makes him an Englishman, a fact he blithely dismissed. He certainly did not sound like one. Asked directly if he was a Scot, he replied: ''Och, yes.''

He is survived by his wife, Julia, daughter, Dale, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.