This turned out to be quite interesting. This gentleman was fascinated to learn about the renewed interest in pre-war golf / architecture and has been encouraged by all the new titles in print nowadays. Here's a selection of some of the things we got down.
My late grandfather introduced me to Mr. Ian Ewen for the first time at Paraparaumu Beach when I was 8 or 9. Our second meeting has been a long time coming, and there's been a lot to catch up on. Ian played his best golf in the age of classic courses and classic golfers. He was one of a string of Wanganui Collegiate golfers who dominated the New Zealand amateur scene here from 1930 to 1960. The others being Brian Silk, Guy Horne and John Hornabrook. At 21 he left NZ to attend Pembroke College, Cambridge University. He joined the Golfing Society and with the help of local professional Fred Robson he improved his game enough to be selected to play the annual match against Oxford at Hoylake in 1936. I'll let Mr. Ewen pick up the story from there.Fred Robson.
It was thanks to Fred Robson's coaching and help from P.B. Lucas that I made the 1935/36 Cambridge team to play Oxford in March 1936. He and Archie Compston were regarded as the best coaches around London. Fred had a mat inside his shop on which he drew the correct stance for a driver and five-iron. When it was a wet day he gave lessons on the mat. He was always so booked up you couldn't afford to cancel. He was a great, friendly man whose kindness I shall never forget. I still have one of his mats today.Laddie Lucas.
Percy Belgrave "Laddie" Lucas, I found out with Andy's help, was a British Walker Cup player and World War 2 fighter pilot. He was Ian's best friend at Pembroke and it was Laddie's recommendation that secured his place in the team for the varsity match.
My closest English friend was P.B. "Laddie" Lucas. We were both in Pembroke College, Cambridge, and we corresponded regularly until his death a few years ago. The best English amateur, I would think, in 1936/37. He was a left-hander. Unusual at a time when there were far fewer left-handers around than today. Until Bob Charles he may very well have been the best. He had a beautiful swing and could hit the ball miles. He was the top British amateur at the Open in 1936 or 1937, just pipped by Lawson Little, the American, for low amateur. He grew up at Princes Golf Club, in the lodge that was once the old clubhouse. His father, Percy M. Lucas was the co-founder of the club with Sir Mallaby-Deeley and was the designer of many of the original holes. Laddie got his nickname from having the most attractive nannies escorting him around the links at Princes as a youngster. The older gentleman golfers always used him to initiate conversation with the prettiest of the girls by starting off "how's the laddie today?" -- thus his nickname!
We were both coached by Robson who was the pro at Addington Golf Club, London, near one of the King's palaces. Sadly it was ploughed up after the War and is now built on - a tragedy. Laddie once went to Henry Cotton's clinic at Waterloo, Belgium, for two weeks after telling Robson how Cotton was coaching all the Walker Cuppers. "If I had two weeks with every student imagine how many Walker Cuppers I would have!" Robson would reply. Cotton was outspoken and didn't get on well with the other English pros, whom I believe were probably jealous of his talents.
As a fighter pilot Laddie was more instrumental in saving Malta - the Allies' crucial last base in the Mediterranean - than anyone else. He controlled his squadron to the best advantage and rejuvenated RAF Fighter Command there. He persuaded naval pilots to fly RAF fighters, thus increasing the serviceability of planes, and taught them how to bring down the German MEs, even when outnumbered, as they often were.
After the War he ran London Greyhound Stadium for Brigadier Critchley who was also a top amateur golfer. Latterly Laddie wrote books. I recommend his biography "Five Up - A Chronicle Of Five Lives" to anyone, as well as others like "Wings Of War" which he compiled and edited.
As well as Laddie Lucas, Ian played with or against many other notable pros and amateurs of his time, including Bernard Darwin, Henry Longhurst, Harry Bentley, Alfred Padgham, Rodger Wethered, Frank Pennick, John S.F. Morrison, Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Bob Charles, Percy Allis - Australians Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Alex Russell, Norman von Nida, Harry Hattersley and Bruce Crampton - and famous lady golfers like Joyce Wethered, Diana Fishwick and Pam Barton.Bernard Darwin.
Bernard Darwin was very much the doyen of sports writers in the 1930s. He wrote for The Times under the guise of "Our Golf Correspondent", but everyone knew who he was. In those days before television everyone waited anxiously for the Monday paper to read his report of the latest event. Before the championships everyone was keen to hear his opinion on the form players, including the players themselves. He had a great command of the English language and wrote many books.
In 1922 he went to America to cover the first Walker Cup for The Times and ended up playing in it and captaining the British side after one of the players (Robert Harris) fell ill. He was in fact one of only a few Britishers to win their singles. Darwin played regularly in inter-club teams around London and to me always seemed a very nice man.