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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

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’ knickers!”

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 colonists!

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

 

 
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