Finally Max Faulkner has been awarded the OBE 50 years after winning the Open Championship.

The decision at best smacks of forgetfulness and at worst downright cold shouldering by whatever civil service committee decides who gets what gong.

At 85, Max has been kept in the waiting room for a much deserved honour far, far too long. I don't suppose for one minute that anybody in Whitehall knew of my campaign for a glaring omission to be corrected, but I've been banging on about it for years.

For a long, long time now, influential people in the game have been dismayed at Max missing out. The European Tour and PGA have been trying to get him officially recognised for more than a decade. Until now their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

For the only living British-born Open champion to have been passed over was nothing short of a disgrace. Yet there have been precedents. Fred Daly, the little Irishman who lifted the Open in 1947, had to wait years before receiving the OBE.

Henry Cotton, who did more for British golf than any other professional of his era, was not knighted until the last days of his life and he was a public schoolboy and hardly short of friends at court.

For years the subject has been taboo with Max. He was too big a man to fret outwardly about such a shocking oversight.

Now, bless him, Max is delighted.

"I am very patriotic and when I go to Buckingham Palace to receive it, I shall tell the Queen that I hope she reigns for longer than Queen Victoria did."

The entire Faulkner family are similarly elated. His daughter Hilary said: "We are absolutely thrilled."

Son-in-law Brian Barnes was equally chipper. He said: "Max is chuffed. There is no doubt about that but, at the same time, he is pretty nonplussed and a little surprised that it should come after all this time."

Hale and hearty, Max is a stickler for tradition and politely refuses the offer from West Chiltington owner Geoffrey Cotton of an electric buggy every time he goes for nine holes. Not only does Max prefer to walk but he carries his own bag over a course that is anything but flat.

You won't hear one gripe from Max about the long-delayed honour. But members at West Chiltington, which is close to his Pulborough home, have never concealed their anger at him being continually overlooked.

Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo had all been recognised, so why was the old Clown Prince ignored?

But those in whose gift such matters reside are never held publicly accountable and I guess they wouldn't have been born when Max stemmed the American tide at Royal Portrush in 1951 and cheekily signed his ball 'Open champion' with one round to go.

Max Faulkner's story is amazing and he remains the only Sussex-born Open champion having first seen the light of day in Bexhill on July 19, 1916. Max put golf on the map in austerity Britain after six grim war years during which time he served as a PTI in the RAF.

He became the first British golfer to dazzle the awestruck galleries with a riotiously coloured wardrobe. Showman? Yes, but he was the man to watch in his pomp and, off course, had a fund of stories that entranced a host of willing listeners. Max can still spin a good yarn and is well worth cocking an ear to at West Chiltington.

No wonder he is steeped in the game. Father Gus, who had his son christened, Max, Herbert, Gustavasbecame pro at Bexhill in 1919. Next, Gus moved to Pennard in South Wales and Max said: "He couldn't half hit it. I lived there until I was ten which is why I have a slight Welsh lilt in my voice. I began my golf there at four and a half and in 1926 we moved to Bramley."

The basis of the marvellous full and free-flowing Faulkner swing that spawned so many imitators was formed then and he was assisting father at 14 and playing to two.

Sonning was the first assistants' job for Max when he flew the nest and a steady number of wins started to be chalked up. When it was time for him to enlist he went into the RAF and, on his own admission, had a, "lucky war". Not so lucky was Max's younger brother Frank who was killed at Dunkirk the day his commission came through.

"Henry Cotton was an admin officer in the RAF and he knew I was at Whitley Bay. He asked me to play in a Red Cross match and when we met, I saluted him. He said, cut that out, and had my clubs sent up. After the war I joined Henry at Royal Mid-Surrey.

"My four great pals were Jimmy Adams, Dai Rees, Ken Bousfield and Harry Weetman. I was making my way then and very fit. In the RAF I boxed middleweight and lost only one fight and that was to an old pro. There were lots of players in those days who, at the start of a tournament, had a good chance of winning. Nowadays you can count the likely winners on one hand.

"The best swinger I ever saw was Richard Burton who won the Open in 1939."

Like all pros, with the exception of public-school educated Cotton, Max was obliged to keep within a rigid class structure. He remembered a classic put down from Bernard Darwin, the legendary golf writer: "Don't you realise, Faulkner, that I am talking to a gentleman?"

Max's close proximity to the pair was not intended to be intrusive, but crusty old Darwin lost no opportunity of keeping a professional in his place.

It all changed in 1951 when Max triumphed at Royal Portrush, but the groundwork had been laid sometime before when he and his parents bought Selsey.

The idea was that of Gus who believed Max would then be able to practice without hindrance over his own course. Manhandling prawn pots every day off Selsey Bill helped develop Max's powerful mitts and forearms more than ever. A couple of years of this hard going was on top of a long apprenticeship of club- making and repairs which explained why professionals of that generation had enormously strong hands.

His father said: "I'll buy Selsey and you'll win the Open."

Did Max autograph himself as 'Open Champion, 1951' before the championship was over? He said: "Yes, I did put that on a ball when approached by a man and his son before the start of the last round and I had a six- shot lead. I thought, that's it, I might as well. The last round was a nasty experience. The crowds were rushing everywhere and my caddie was knocked over and both my shoes came off. There was no crowd control as such and, at the 12th, two Irishmen tried to break my nerve. I heard one say to the other for my benefit "this fellow won't win". Harry Bradshaw was out in 32 and catching up fast."

During the championship, Max hardened his feet by walking in the sea.

"I'd go out with my trousers rolled up while the other players were at the bar drinking. I never drank before a big event, but when I won, I used to get drunk."

His official winnings at the Open were £500, but as Max said: "I made about £12,000 that year. That was pretty good money then."

Another 18 years were to elapse before Tony Jacklin became the next Briton to win the Open. As one of the outstanding post-war players, Max played in four Ryder Cups from 1947-57.

The match at Portland, Oregon, in 1947 saw Great Britain lose 11-1 despite skipper Henry Cotton getting the team to pray for victory in his hotel room.

Aged 54, his last major victory was the Portuguese Open. He won the Seniors title and retired to West Sussex to keep chickens and enjoy life as a gentleman farmer.

Wouldn't that have riled Bernard Darwin?

When the opportunity to become involved with West Chiltington arose, Max jumped at it but has no stake there now since the business was bought by Geoffrey Cotton.

"Golf has been good to me and I like to think that I've given something to the game."