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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

Much as I love this place where I have been Secretary now for nearly 30 years, there are times when I just have to escape. There are physical and indeed mental consequences from decades of dealing with such major irritants as Members, Visitors, Servants and Persons in Trade – to say nothing of the trotskyite Caddies & Allied Operatives Union and the Healthy & Safe Executive. Incidentally, I hear that the latter are are planning yet another Inspection, i.e. invasion, despite their snoopers being fired on last year by the Captain from the balcony and then being chased back over the railway by our Irish wolfhounds.

Anyway, from time to time I have to get away – and away, this weekend, I am going to get. A couple of days in London and then on to Jersey, of which more in a moment.

My London Club is the Guards & Cavalry (the ‘C&G’) in Piccadilly just above Hyde Park Corner, from which it’s just a 40 minute cab ride out to Sunningdale. The C&G is a perennial delight from the huge Boot & Shoeshine Room to the El Alamein Bar and from the gigantic rile and RPG shooting gallery, to the tiny library. Here one can socialise with real people for a change, not the barrow- boy Johnnies now infesting the Drones Club.

Yes, real people like Brigadier Sir Marmaduke Penge, the Falklands hero who was known in the Regiment as ‘Smarmy’ though he was anything but. He was in the papers last week, poor sod, having been photographed with his head firmly stuck in an ice-bucket at Quaglino’s.

At Guy’s Hospital his voice, from inside the bucket, told the curious A&E docs (in muffled tones) that he had been demonstrating the dangers of the new MoD steel helmet, when his head slipped. This, by the way, is the helmet that those Healthy & Safe wallahs want our greenkeepers and caddies to wear, together with Kevlar knickers to protect their reproductive apparatus. Balls; it will not happen on my watch, I can tell you.

Smarmy was never a great reader, as I recall from our time in the Cavalry together during the Oman emergency. This came out last month when he was passing the open door of the C&G Library, inside which was my nephew Piers. While waiting for me, he happened to be perusing Fitch-Davenport’s classic British Army Laundry Services in the Ashanti Campaign, 1871-3. Smarmy looked into the library, saw Piers and stopped; another classic exchange then followed:

Smarmy: Morning!

Piers: Good morning, sir.

Smarmy: Readin’ a book?

Piers: Er… yes.

Smarmy: Splendid. I read a book once…[pause]. Black Beauty – that was it! Bloody good…

And so to Jersey, where I have been kindly invited to address the Annual Dinner of the great Royal Jersey Golf Club at Grouville. Much younger than St Luke’s of course, but a fine club for all that. Both Harry Vardon (six Opens) and Ted Ray (one) were Jerseymen and Grouville-born.

Both will feature in another speech I have to give in August when The Country Club at Brookline celebrates the centenary of Francis Ouimet’s famous win in the 1913 US Open. In the playoff, brilliantly described in The greatest Game ever Played by Mark Frost, the 20 year-old amateur Ouimet sensationally overcame both Ray and Vardon. This was the coming of age of American golf and it inaugurated a rising US domination of the game which has lasted until recently.

Ouimet would later become the first American Captain of the R&A while his caddy, the diminutive 10 year-old Eddie Lowery went on to outgrow, in height, the bag he carried that day. He also went on to become a millionaire automobile dealer in San Francisco and play, as did his comedian friend Bob Hope, in the 1951 Amateur Championship at Porthcawl.

Lowery was a great raconteur, one of his best being about Hope’s experiences playing with President Eisenhower. Said Hope:

“I loved playing with Ike; because of those Secret Service guys. Some you saw, but some you did not. Find your ball behind a tree? No sweat; the ‘tree’ would quietly sidle away….” But I digress. During World War II, Royal Jersey was the only Royal Club to be occupied by the Wehrmacht. Displaying a fine regard for course architecture and the dangers of coastal erosion, the Germans built a sturdy concrete sea wall running from Fort Henry to Fort William and bordering the 1st to the 4th fairways. The Nazis’ ideas of hazards, however, were perhaps a shade extreme. The course was left littered with tank traps, not sand traps, while their liberal sowing of landmines must have added a certain post-war frisson to caddies searching for an errant drive.

An added delight at the Dinner will be meeting Tommy Horton MBE, formerly the Club’s professional and twice in the Ryder Cup. I am ‘bookending’ the Dinner with him. By this I mean that he will open the speeches with his Toast to the Club, while I will wind it up, literally, with the Reply for the Guests. Only four speakers – excellent. None of the problems then, as at the Glasgow GC Bicentenary. Then, according to legend, Willie Whitelaw, deputy Prime Minister, got up to speak at ten minutes past midnight. Rising to speak, he rose also to the occasion;

“Mr Captain and Gentlemen. When I accepted your most kind invitation, I had not realised that this was to be a twoday dinner. Gentlemen, good morning…!”

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 

 
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