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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.

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 Captain has asked me to draw to your attention the matter of Honorary Memberships.

As you will know, these are extremely rare, none having been awarded since 1969 and indeed there have been only twelve since our foundation in 1603 by King James VI and I. The central criteria are that the candidate shall have performed some exceptional Service to the Club, or to the Game of Golf at large – and shall be unknown to the Police.

The procedures are straightforward. A Candidate must be unaware that he is being proposed; his real name must be laid before the Captain and Council, together with the signed Statements of his Proposer, Seconder and Thirdsman plus those of Twenty Supporters. Of the latter, all must be Members of at least 30 years standing and must be eligible to use the Red Tee-boxes, i.e. their ages plus handicaps must add up to 75. By Article 56; 1 (b) of the Constitution, excluded from supporting a candidate are:

Members currently under Suspension, under Caution or under Suspicion and those currently tagged for slow play or for Entries judged ‘frivolous’ or ‘impudent’ in the Suggestion Book.

You are reminded that Hon. Membership cannot be awarded posthumously. Members considering proposing a chap would do well to consider some past recipients of this, the Club’s most prestigious honour. In 1745, Hon. Membership was awarded to Colonel Edward Bellingham – Dalby for his conduct when the Clubhouse was suddenly besieged by elements of the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

‘Bonny Prince Charlie’ and his Highlanders were then on their southward march at the height of the ‘45’; the great Jacobite rebellion against King George II. The defence of the building was led by Col. Dalby who commanded a scratch force of the sixty Members who were dining following the Autumn Meeting. Showing great presence of mind, Col. Dalby broke open the armoury and distributed pistols and muskets to the Members. He then ordered the cooks to heat the (asparagus) soup to boiling point and directed the hauling into the Clubhouse of the cannon flanking the main entrance.

The doors were then locked and barred. Using the above weaponry, a steady fire was kept up on the besieging Highlanders.

Scaling ladders were than thrown against the walls and attempts made to ascend to the great windows of Founders Room, where the Dinner had been interrupted. These assaults were repulsed by deluges of boiling soup accompanied by showers of rump steaks, minced collops and mealy puddings.

When the half-starved Highlanders paused to consume these missiles, a message was sent in from the Prince reminding the Members that his great-grandfather, King James I, had founded the Club and was the Captaincy not hereditary? Might he, therefore, please be admitted, at least to use the facilities?

Amid continuing gunfire and flying jellies, Colonel Dalby shouted his famous Reply: “Sir! The Hon. Captain of the Club is King George II, the reigning Monarch of this country, as indeed was your royal great grandfather, God bless his memory. But you, your so-called Royal Highness, are a self-inflated upstart of a Rebel, who will swing on a gallows when the Duke of Cumberland catches up with you – and that goes for your bare-arsed ragtag army!”

At this spirited retort, the Prince spurred his horse away to confer with Lord George Murray, a fine golfer and a member of the Burgess Club in Edinburgh. With a wry smile, Murray advised that the that the assault be discontinued and the belligerent and intransigent members be allowed to finish what remained of their Dinner.

A more recent Hon. Membership was that to be conferred on Lord Whitelaw, scratch golfer, Captain of the R&A and Deputy Prime Minister. Sadly, the death of this fine statesman prevented the award being delivered, but the memory of the man – and his wit – lives on.

At the Bicentenary Dinner of the Glasgow Golf Club ‘Willie’ Whitelaw was the last to speak, the function having run very late. Getting up at ten minutes past midnight, Willie famously said, “Mr Captain, members of the Club – Good Morning! I had not realised, when I accepted this invitation that this was two-day dinner!”

Finally, while thinking of Prime ministers, their Deputies and Hon.

Memberships, let us not forget Sir Denis Thatcher. While attending a Dinner at 10 Downing St., a note telling him that he was to be made a Hon. Member of his beloved Sunningdale was passed to him. The occasion, hosted by his wife, then Prime Minister, was in honour of the State Visit to the UK by Mr Mikhail Gorbachov, then President of the USSR.

True to form, and as soon as diplomatically possible, Dennis escaped out of the back door of No.10, heading for a reunion with his mates at the Carlton Club. Lying in wait for him was a reporter; “Sir Denis, Sir Denis! How are things going between the PM and Mr Gorbachov?” “Stuff Gorbachov,” said Denis, neither looking round nor slowing down, “I’m to be a Hon. Member of Sunningdale!”

So, Suggestions to me by April 1st please – and, despite the date, forget Boris Johnson.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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