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,
1 Links Road,
Suffolk SU3 1GC
Greetings from the ex-colony, now State, of South Carolina,
where I am a guest of the Historical Society, headquartered
in the pleasant – if rather humid – city of Charleston.
This town was the cradle of Golf in the New World and I
am here with the President of the R&A, Lord Fanshawe, and
our Captain Sir Edgar Moletrouser, to celebrate the tercentenary
of its arrival in 1713. Discoveries in the National
Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh have confirmed that in
that year Archibald Ogilvy-Dryburgh, a St Luke’s Member,
loaded 96 clubs and three gross (432) feathery balls aboard
the good ship Magdalen (Capt. Ebenezer Menteith) an armed
merchantman, at Leith. He sent them off to his brother
Alastair, now a successful merchant in Charleston with
instructions that the ‘Ancyent & Healthfulle Exercyse of the
Golffe’ should be engrafted into the soil of the New World.
The voyage was not without incident. Off Antigua, the
Magdalena was intercepted and grappled by the notorious
pirate Jack Kidd in the Enterprise. A furious gunnery
exchange ensued in which both vessels were seriously
damaged, Magdalen’s mizzen mast going over the side.
When his carronade, or short range cannon, ran short of
ammunition, the Captain had the golf cargo broken open.
The carronade was reloaded with 80 featheries and discharged
at point-blank range, accompanied by a yell of
‘Fore!’ from Menteith, a member of the Royal Burgess GC at
Edinburgh. This hurricane of shot felled Kidd and several
of his officers on his quarter-deck, whereupon Enterprise
sheered off. This left his boarding party to be assaulted by
Magdalen’s ship’s company wielding a selection of cutlasses,
brassies, pistols, cleeks and mashies – to lethal effect.
A week later a battered but unbowed Magdalen sailed
past Sullivan’s Island and into the Ashley River in which
lies the port of Charleston.
The surviving clubs and balls found a ready market
among the Scots emigrants resident in the Carolinas
and the game took root and flourished. Indeed, the
South Carolina coastline from Hilton Head Island up
to Myrtle Beach is now one long line of golf courses.
The use of English is widespread in the USA
although there are serious differences with our
own. If one turns up in plus-fours, as our party
all did at Charleston Airport, be warned that
you are now wearing ‘Knickerbockers.’
Standing in the ‘line’ (queue) at Customs, I
distinctly heard an American behind us say
to his wife,
“Look, honey. These guys are wearin’
One did not turn round if course, but
said to oneself:
“How on earth can he tell…?”
Despite showing no sign whatsoever of returning
to allegiance to the Crown, Americans are all a-twitter over
the impending Royal Birth. Two years ago, America virtually
stopped for The Wedding. Hundreds of thousands of
people, mostly ladies, arranged parties, put on hats, opened
champagne, turned on CBS, ABC or NBC (they all carried it –
without ads!) – and went to Westminster Abbey.
Now, however, it’s the name of the Fetus Royal to be born
next month which is generating rivers of newsprint. We were
repeatedly told, without a shred of hard evidence, that it was
going to be a boy, a Prince, and that the range of possible names
appears to be severely limited. On this point, satirical TV shows
over here such as Saturday Night Live, are having a field day.
“Since before Independence here, back in 1776,” intoned a
chap, curiously described as an ‘anchor’ on the show, “the
Brits have only used three names for their Kings: George,
William and Edward – and one more, Charles, who’s the
dude currently most likely to succeed. This is appalling.
They need more names! Ok, we’ve sent one further name to
Bucking-ham Pal-ace, tellin’ their Royalties that a good ol’ US
handle will give the dynasty new life and vigor. And here
come the odds offered by the bookies on them four old
names – and ours. They go:
2:1 George, 3:1 William, 4:1 Edward, 5:1 Charles
500,000:1 Elvis, The Show ended with the powerful appeal,
“Aw, c’mon guys – Elvis was King!”
It is always a pleasure to visit this country and engage in
conversation with its unique and extraordinary inhabitants.
Relations between Royal St Lukes and our great ally are cordial,
even despite their bombing of us. This happened in
1944 when a B24 Liberator heavy bomber suffered an
engine failure just after leaving nearby Warsley Fen airbase
for a raid on Berlin. The pilot sensibly decided to jettison his
full load of fourteen 1,000 lb. bombs over open country,
unfortunately choosing our 18th fairway for the purpose
and blowing out every window in the Clubhouse. These
could be repaired, but not the scar left on old Jack Perkins.
Then a young trainee greenkeeper, Perkins was struck in the
backside by a steel bomb splinter while desperately throwing
himself into a whinbush as the B24 roared overhead
raining high explosive. That splinter remains lodged in his
person and throughout his 55 years here at St Luke’s it was
the repeated cause of complaints from American visitors, to
whom he would insist on demonstrating the wound.
Finally, to return to the Royal birth now exciting so much
interest over here. The child will be, by my calculation, the 7x
Great Nephew of George III, whose refusal to have Colonists
in the House of Commons caused the breach in the first
place. His attitude was wonderfully captured in a Monty
Python sketch featuring an exhausted messenger, just off a
ship from Boston, being shown into the Royal presence.
Covered in dust and grime, he throws himself down before
the King who is not amused at the interruption to his whist.
KG III: Well? Out with it!
Messenger (panting): Sire, it’s… it’s our… American
KG: Not again! For G–d’s sake, what is it this time?
Messenger: Sire, they’re… they’re revolting!
KG: But we know that! Tell us what they’re up to..?
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine