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 THE MAJOR

Major RJM Warren-Dawlish M.C. has been Secretary of Royal St Luke’s Golf Club in Suffolk since 1985. A leading authority on the Rules of Golf, guerrilla tactics and continental drift, he has graciously agreed to publish items of his correspondence is these columns. The opinions, prejudices and obsessions expressed are his alone and do not (necessarily) reflect those of Golf International or Golf Today.
EDITED BY PROF. DAVID PURDIE - ILLUSTRATION BY SANDY ROBB

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (Est. 1603)
pulsa inveni repulsa

From; The Secretary,
The Clubhouse,
1 Links Road,
Carrington Magna,
Suffolk SU3 1GC

The R&A, let me say at once, is a splendid organisation, innovative yet conservative, ever-changing yet unaltered from the Club founded in May 1754 by 22 ‘Noblemen & Gentlemen,’ mostly Fife gentry, in the reign of the late King George II of blessed memory.

I myself am not a member of the R&A and, despite having passed the age of dissent, am never now likely to be. However, many members of Royal St. Lukes are themselves R&A men including their President, Lord Fanshawe of Queensbarns.

Henry Fanshawe, ‘Fanny’ as he was known in the Regiment during our cavalry days, is an old comrade with whom I exchange views and proposals for the greater good, both of the Club & Game and The Open. He often refuses to adopt these; for example my ‘nearest the pin’ proposal for the 1st at Lytham during the Open, or the absolute time-limit of 4 hours for a round, after which the Scorer’s Caravan would be locked…

However, all credit to him and the R&A, they produced a splendid Open with poor Adam Scott looking like that Kazakhstani showjumper in the Olympics who was heading for a Clear Round and the Gold – only to bogey (i.e. knock over) the last four fences and wind up clutching the selling plate.

No amateur picked up the Silver Medal this year, did you notice? No successor for the splendid first amateur Medallist Maj. James Hamilton Fairlie of Coodham in Ayrshire. He it was who announced that the second competition for the original Belt, at Prestwick Golf Club in 1861, would be ‘Open to all the world’ thus giving the Open its title. By ‘Open’ he meant open to amateurs as well as the professionals, to whom the inaugural ‘Open’ of 1860 was restricted. Incidentally, I think he opened it up as he fancied his chances for a prize, for sure enough, in he came as Lead Amateur to pick up the first Silver Medal after Tom Morris Sr had buckled on The Belt.

Anyway, Golf has to evolve or die and with that in mind it’s been a pleasure here at Royal St. Lukes this week to stage the dress rehearsal for the Golf of the next Olympiad. This will be held in Brazil at the Clube do Golf de Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição which is somewhere in the Amazonian rainforest 600 km west of Rio.

As you may have seen in the Press, the IOC have politely excluded the R&A and the USGA from having anything to do with the Olympic Golf which is designed to reflect the Olympic ideals enshrined in their Latin motto: Altior, Citior, Synchrior: (Higher, Faster and All Together). The IOC Golf planning group, of which I was honoured to be the UK Member, showed tremendous vision in adopting those of my innovations which the R&A has yet to espouse for the Open, or indeed any of ithe competitions under its age-old aegis.

Altior: While skying a drive is not usually an asset in traditional golf, it sure is in the Olympic context. The winner, C.D Davies of Thalisker GC used a 34 degree lofted driver to knock it up vertically to an altitude of 190 metres and land it back at his feet. The sound of fifty balls raining down on to the steel helmets of the players and judges was delightful, as was the sight of the day-glo balls streaking up like so much A.A. artillery tracer fire. Citior: The Time Trial, Relay and Keirin events were most successful.

Accompanied by caddies on quadbikes, the winning fourball hurtled round our 7,200 yard (4.1 mile) course in 12.15 minutes at an average speed of 21mph while scoring a creditable 108 and losing only 4 balls and 2 caddies in the process. Synchrior: The ribald laughter and the ill-natured hooting which surrounded the introduction of Olympic synchronised swimming ten years ago, are now but a memory. Indeed the extension of synchronicity to such events as Archery and the Javelin but especially the advent of the synchronised Hammer has, sometimes literally, kept the crowd on its toes. It was inevitable that the Committee would look at Golf in this context and I have to say that the aesthetic and athletic tests here were simply outstanding.

In teams of four, competitors who are identically dressed and coiffed, must display absolute identity of tee-up, address, swing, impact and trajectory as they execute shots of differing ‘Tariff ’ or difficulty. Points are awarded for Technical Merit and Artistic Impression. The shots which may be performed range from the pull, cut, Banana-slice, to the Boomerang-hook and foozler, with the highest tariff being reserved for the reverse shank, which carries a rating of 6.3. The artistic side of the event caused some initial difficulty as competitors have to wear fixed broad smiles with full teeth display, never easy while shanking.

Well, we’ll see how it works in Brazil; meanwhile The Open is likely, I understand, to continue next year with the same old 4 rounds of strokeplay which go on year in, year out, with never a Longest Drive or a Nearest the Pin or a Stableford format to enliven things. Ah well; at least it’s Muirfield next! I was a guest there two weeks ago and never have I seen such rough. When I tell you that, in one week, the Hon. Company of Edinburgh Golfers, whose course it is, lost 270 balls, 16 sets of clubs, half a dozen short caddies and 2 Members, you’ll have some idea of the terrors awaiting the pros next July.

The defending Champion, Mr Els won there on The Open’s last visit in 2002; he may just be tall enough to see his way round again...

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 

 
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