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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
3rd Sept. 2006
Royal St Luke’s Clubhouse
Carrington Magna , Suffolk SU3 1GC

As spring makes its (increasingly early) appearance at St Luke’s, I make another appeal to all right-minded – and indeed left minded– golfers to leap to the protection of their fairways. For those who play on parkland the danger is less acute, but spring on the links, or heathland, is a time of looming danger – from greenkeepers.

I have just had a noisy confrontation with Spragg, our head man whom I caught loading up a load of insecticide /fungicide solution with which to annihilate every living thing mad enough to burrow, nest or otherwise make its home on the links. Worse, I have found that our natural short fescue grasses which have quietly clothed the links for 2.4 million years are being steadily replaced by plantings of meadow grass. This alien impostor may be suitable for the sustenance of alpacas, donkeys and suchlike ruminants, but its disgusting thatch and requirement for fertiliser, and heavy watering make it bad fairway material.

Indeed, the business of watering is another battleground here. The Greens Committee,many of whom are“Something in the City”, where a blade of grass is as rare a sight as a walking police officer, wanted to install an automated watering system“to prevent the fairways from browning up in the Summer!” Fortunately assisted by General Harry Thumper and others, I was able to convene an EGM and get the idea of sprinklers turned off, literally. The Almighty has been watering these fairways since the last ice-age, admittedly irregularly and often on medal days, but He is the original Head Greenkeeper and the grasses have evolved splendidly to cope. If there’s a dry spell in summer, then down deeper go the roots and brown go the stems. Brown grass is not dead it’s adapted and very much alive, but can I get the greens staff to see this? No I cannot.

When Woods won a year or so back on a Hoylake as brown as toast, he made a big point of praising the condition of the course. He thus, great man that he is, drowned out a barrage of criticism that a brown links wasn’t fit for a mixed foursome, let alone the Open. So, if you’re coming to play here, do not expect sprinklers with heads which try to do your job of yardage for you. You’re expected to work that out for yourself as you listen to the song of the larks overhead, protected at last from the insecticide that kills them, the butterflies, and the ragwort and the humble crawling things that drive what I’m told is the ecosystem.

Fear not, the tees and the greens will be well watered, by hand, and will be very, very green. My correspondence increases by the day thanks to its exposure in Golf International. I just wish that the questions which pour in were confined to golf, military affairs and those areas of philosophy with which one is comfortable.

Dear Major,

My floribunda (Stephanotis floribunda) has produced a deep black mottling on its leaves for the second year now, despite treatment with pentaoxygenated xanthone. I’m in despair.What do you suggest ?
H. Farrer, Lowestoft.

Mr Farrer, I suggest you stop writing tome with these ridiculous questions. Did someone put you up to this? I repeat for the nth time that I know absolutely nothing about floribundas, or Clematis or anything else that grows, or refuses to grow, in your domestic plot. I am not a gardener I ama golf club secretary. So why don’t you rip out your flotibunda, wrap it in brown paper, drag it to Broadcasting House and hurl it to the ground,mottled leaves and all, in front of the BBC’s team in Gardeners Question Time. Goodbye.

Dear Major,

What’s the position regarding lady members here at St Luke’s? Can’t remember seeing any about and our chums in Ireland at Portmarnock have been put through the mangle by the Irish equal opportunity wallahs for not having any. Can’t say I’d mind having a few about, brighten up the ex-smoking room and all that, but I think we’d better have some sort of policy that I can defend in the Lords. When I was a junior 70 years ago women weren’t even allowed to drive up to the clubhouse. Then there was an EGM and we decided to let ’em drive up to the clubhouse to collect their better half after the annual dinner, but on no account could they leave the car. This caused difficulties if the husband was, shall we say, illuminated and couldn’t climb into the vehicle, because although the wife could pull – she couldn’t push… Perhaps the time has come, as the Walrus correctly said, to talk of many things…

Dear Lord Headrington;

I quite agree. I get bracketed regularly at home by the Hon. Sylvia over the absence of lady golfers – but we’re hamstrung by the constitution which clearly states that “Every Member shall be a Gentleman of rank or substance or potential of same.”All we have to do is delete the words “a Gentleman”and we’re home free. But,as you know,no less than six meetings have addressed the issue,and after each one the place looked as if it had been hit not by an EGM but by an ICBM.

I suggest that you encourage Lady Headrington to apply. She’ll have no trouble with proposers and seconders and as a former head of MI6, she’ll know enough about most members to blackmail them for life. She certainly get support from Willy Parker! You’ll remember he was sprung from a KGB holiday camp after being caught starkers in a Moscow cat house. Women are here to stay and far better to have them inside the tent gazing out…..than the alternative!

RJM Warren-Dawlish Secretary

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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