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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.

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (Est. 1603)
pulsa inveni repulsa

From; The Secretary,
The Clubhouse,
1 Links Road,
Carrington Magna,
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 warning

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 dishtinctly fuzzy!”

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 2nd floor.

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 unflappable…

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 room!”

“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, what?”

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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