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
A most embarrassing incident this morning. At about 7 a.m.
Mrs Mary O’Malley, heading our laundry staff in the basement,
heard muffled cries. These were traced to a large heap of linen
at the bottom of the Clubhouse laundry chute. Investigation
revealed Sir Julian Talbot, Captain of Royal South Devon Golf
Club among the used bedding etc., still in evening dress, and
having apparently spent the night in situ.
A great authority on the history of Golf in England and our
former Ambassador to Kurdistan, he had been giving the annual
Tom Morris Lecture last night. His subject was Polfus, the
stick & ball game of Ancient Rome which may, just may, have
been an ancestor of the modern game. His thesis was that the
appearance of Polfus at Rome dated from 86 AD, when General
Julius Agricola was recalled by the Emperor Domitian from his
invasion of Caledonia, i.e. modern Scotland.
It was thus likely, we were told, that
the ancient Scots game of Polfo – golf
on horseback (which gave rise to Polo)
had been taken to Rome as war booty.
There, minus the horses, it was played
on the Field of Mars which adjoins the
Roman forum. Balls sliced away
towards that crowded market place
would be pursued by cries of ‘Fore! ’
(Latin: to the Forum!) which apparently
gave rise to golf’s classic cry of
Anyway, as an honoured guest of
the Club, Sir Julian dined last night
with the Captain, the Council and
myself plus 120 Members, in the King
James Room. He was in good form,
airily dismissing claims by the Dutch, Serbs, Tadjiks and the
Ming Chinese to have invented the game. Said he, “Nonsense. It
was the Jocks. Smart bunch the Jocks; only took ’em a thousand
years to figure out what their seaside links were for!”
He made a fair dent in our claret and relished the Club’s vintage
port, his impish sense of humour well to the fore;
“Cavendish,” he said to Harry of that Ilk, his old friend and
our Chairman of Greens, “I think you should drink less port!”
“But why, Julian?”
“Because I’ve been watching you – and your face is becoming
And with that, amid the laughter, he departed to bed.
Next morning I was told of the remarkable discovery in the
laundry chute. After breakfast, I sent Williams to fetch him,
keen to discover how on earth he had landed, literally, among
the bedding in the basement, our guest suite being up on the
Thankfully none the worse for his adventure, he was ushered
into the Secretariat, whereupon it emerged that it was entirely
my fault! As he’s nearly 80, I had indeed told him to use our
new Smythson Mk II Stairlift to ascend to the 2nd floor landing.
However, I had apparently omitted to read him its Instructions
with due diligence.
Now, the Club’s version of the normally sedate stairlift also
has a Turbo setting. This does the job at far higher speeds,
but requires application of its powerful brakes to slow the
thing down before its upper terminus. A standing joke in the
Club is that our aged President can now reach the top floor
before forgetting why he was going there in the first place.
The Turbo setting is only used by our maintenance staff, all
of whom are strictly charged that on leaving the stairlift, the
Control handle must be returned from Turbo to Standard.
This had not been done…
Dear old Julian had eased himself snugly on to the seat,
belted himself in, pressed Activate – and found himself
hurtling upstairs at warp speed. His cries were unheard as he
soared past the locker rooms on the 1st floor and now found
himself rapidly approaching the terminus
on the 2nd, unaware that the
brakes were now urgently required.
We even have a sign on the banister
saying BRAKE! for just such an emergency,
but he was going far too fast
to see it.
With hindsight, it was a mistake to
position the 2nd floor laundry-chute
flap opposite the stairlift terminus.
There was an almighty Bang as the
seat crashed to a halt – unlike Sir
Julian. Now obeying Newton’s 1st
Law of Motion, he continued straight
across the landing until partially
arrested by the chute flap. This
opened, received him, and then
closed again, as he began an equally rapid descent, banging
off the sides until coming mercifully to a soft basement landing,
three floors below on the linen pile.
Blanketed amid the bedding and sedated by our Port, he
drifted into the arms of Morpheus until awakened by Mrs
O’Malley our Irish laundry lady who, unlike her chute, is
The following conversation then ensued,
“Good morning, madam,” said the voice from the sheets,
“May I enquire if this is Sir Julian Talbot’s room?
“Ah go on, sir. Sure, ye’re Sir Talbot himself!”
“Madam, I know who I am – I am enquiring if this is my
“Dis is the sump of the linen chute, sir. Jaysus, if it was yer
shirt or yer knickers ye wanted washin’, sure ye could’ve left
them outside yer door…!”
Morning coffee was served as I tendered our unreserved
apologies for his lightning tour of our facilities.
“Don’t mention it, old boy,” was the response, “reminded
me of doing the Cresta Run more than a few years back – and
I had a softer landing than Eddie the Eagle at Calgary in ’88,
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine