British golfer Sir Michael Bonallack, a leading figure in the sport, has died at the age of 88 ©Getty Images

British golfer Sir Michael Bonallack, a leading figure in the sport, has died at the age of 88.

Born in Chigwell, Sir Michael's golfing journey started from a young age, wining the Essex Boys Championship in 1950 at 16 years of age.

He defended his title next year and won the Boys' Amateur Championship in 1952.

The leading amateur golfer won the English Amateur Championship title in 1961, 1965, 1968, 1969 and 1970.

In 1959, he made his debut at the prestigious Walker Cup, played by two teams – the United States, and Britain and Ireland.

The same year, he achieved a best-ever finish of tied 11th in The Open.

Sir Michael captained Britain and Ireland to victory in the 1971 edition of the Walker Cup.

"I was playing captain that year when we won," he said of the achievement

"It does not get, cannot get, any better than that."

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) of St Andrews, where he was a secretary and captain, was among those who paid tribute to Sir Michael.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of Sir Michael’s passing," Martin Slumbers, current secretary of The R&A, said.

"He made a huge contribution to golf not only as one of the finest amateur golfers in the history of the sport but also as an extremely effective leader and administrator.

"Sir Michael was the outstanding amateur golfer of his era and his achievements in The Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup will truly stand the test of time.

"He led The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at a time of change and did so with great courage, enterprise and foresight.

"In recent years he continued to serve the sport through his work on Committees and I personally am extremely grateful for his gracious guidance and support.

"He will be a huge loss to all of us in golf but particularly here in St Andrews.

"On behalf of all at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the R&A I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Bonallack family. "

Sir Michael, winner of English Amateur Stroke Play Championship and the Brabazon Trophy four times, has had an extensive career as an administrator.

He was chairman of the European Tour, the Professional Golfers' Association and the Golf Foundation.

Sir Michael was also the President of the English Golf Union in 1982 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.

His wife Angela Bonallackanother, also an amateur golfer died last year, and is survived by children Glenna, Jane, Sara and Robert and their ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren who all play golf.

"Everyone connected with England Golf would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sir Michael's family, his children Glenna, Jane, Sara and Robert, his ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, his close friends and the many acquaintances he has made across the game through his years of dedicated service," a statement from England Golf read.