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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 Captain:

Members are advised to ignore all reports in the gutter press relating to the Captain’s arrest in the Cayman Islands. I have contacted him by phone in the Detention Centre and he asks to be reminded to you all. He is adamant that the bizarre story of his (alleged) nocturnal practices put about by local ‘model’ Miss Elsie Lovelace is a pack of lies. He is never, ever, dressed as Batman. Furthermore, he denies that the fire in his suite at the Royal Caribbean Hotel was caused by his passing out and dropping a lighted Cuban. The bed, apparently, was already on fire when he got into it.

Insects (rare)

Work continues on the conservation area by the 14th green. The Club had no idea that this was the last remaining site in England for the breeding of the Greater-Spotted Cleveland Moth. It is just unfortunate that the Greenkeepers’ heavy roller appears to have wiped out all but one of the creatures. Despite attempts by English Natural Heritage officials to capture the survivor, it took off only be intercepted by a passing hawk. While naturally one offers one’s condolences to any of its relatives, I’m not sorry to see the back of it. The most important species inhabiting our Links is not any flowering fungus or aerial insect, however rare. It is H. sapiens vulgaris – the common or garden Golfer.

Animals

The animal life of the Club is quite remarkable. The sheer variety of creatures calling this place home matches both the range of the Membership and their eccentric behaviour. The Chief Steward’s dog, Yala, patrols the place under false pretences, dogs being banned from the Clubhouse since 1786. However, we learned from Dr Julius Snell how Oxford had solved a similar problem with the Dean’s poodle at Balliol College. We thus convened a Council Meeting and declared it, formally, to be a cat.

This animal is a Shar-pei, 沙皮in Cantonese, and is the traditional guardian of their ancient temples. What a Chinese temple guard-dog was doing in the local Dog Pound, where the Chief Steward found it, is a mystery to me. However it now guards us, fixing all Visitors with an inscrutable oriental stare.

Much more entertaining is Memo, my own Hill Mynah bird, named after Mnemosyne the ancient Greek goddess of memory. Highly intelligent like all mynahs, Memo is actually in the Guiness Book of Records for her 80 word memory, still increasing at about 15 words per year. Believe it or not, Memo actually understands the role of equity in Rules disputes and endorses the R&A’s approach to the belly-putter issue. She is the only female attending Council Meetings, enlivening proceedings with an occasional bowel movement and fixing a beady eye on any speaker droning on too long. Her suspicion of any such is greeted with a whistle and a piercing cry of ‘Bollocks!’ or ‘Fore!’ thus reducing the meeting to hysterics.

That reminds me that the absolute star of bird eloquence was the Captain’s cockatoo of the frigate HMS Ganges in the age of sail. Orders then were issued to the crew by complex whistles from the bosun’s pipe. The bird had learned a dozen or so of these and when the actual Bosun whistled, it would issue accurate but contradictory instructions – to the red fury of the Bosun and the delight of the crew. The whistle for, “Admiral coming aboard!” would be followed by “Abandon Ship!”; when the Bosun signalled, “Anchor, hoist!” – after a suitable pause to let it get half-way up – the bird would order, “Let go!” (Splash).

Annual Dinner

The Club’s 390th annual Dinner will be held in the Clubhouse on January 13th. Dress is Black Tie, with Decorations. The Captain hopes to be with us, given a successful Appeal to the Cayman Islands High Court.

The Principal Guest will be Brigadier TDM Critchley-Smythe, DSO. He will propose the Toast to the Club, doubtless also recounting his stirring tales of Afghanistan with the famous armoured Laundromat of the Guards Brigade. Members will be able to purchase signed copies of both volumes of his latest work, British Army Laundry Services in the Ashanti Campaigns 1873–1879.

Members often ask why Dinners were missed in the past; no gaps would make this year’s occasion our 410th. The reason of course, is War – and not just of the international sort. We lost Dinners to both World Wars and to the Napoleonic Campaigns from 1797 to 1815 after which Lt. Carberry of the 31st Foot presented the Waterloo Drum, still used in selecting our Captains.

We are the only Club on earth to have had our Annual Dinner cancelled due to Civil Wars: These included the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion when the Clubhouse was besieged by thirstmaddened Highlanders – and Bonny Prince Charlie. There was also the English Civil War of 1641-1645 when Members fought and died on both sides. The conflict carried on at the 1646 Dinner which had to be abandoned amid gunfire and scenes of utter confusion. Indeed, it’s worth quoting from the then

Secretary’s Reporte:

…Sir Thos. Wakeham then rose & called the Treasurer a damned Roundhead & a Villein & drew hys Sword and closed with hym, at which the Captane fyred his Pistole in the air which severed the corde & caused the Candelabrum to fall upon Col. Manningham, the Bishop of Derby & others to their greate fury. The combatte became generall, & erupted out & onto the 18th Greene & there contynued until the Captane, commanding the gate Cannon to be dyscharged, brought order…

How little things have changed.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 

 
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