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Mark_Huxford

What Questions Would You Ask?
« on: May 01, 2003, 09:06:59 PM »

I have recently agreed to help an elderly gentleman at our club record some of his golfing experiences. Though well into his nineties, he is still fit and as sharp as a tack. He played on the golf team at Cambridge University and was friendly with Bernard Darwin, John Morrison and Henry Longhurst. He was able to tell me about Mildenhall (Royal Worlington) in intimate detail and had fabulous recall of other British courses; a couple of his favourites being Woking and Addington.

He assisted Alex Russell with the laying out of our course in 1949 (as a New Zealand representative, he hit golf balls to points indicated by Russell) and came to know him quite well. He also told me interesting stories about Gary Player (who picked him and his wife out of the gallery during the Open at Cherry Hills many years after their single previous meeting) and Karsten Solheim -- "I've just started to make golf clubs, what are you doing?"

I figured it would be a terrible waste if his knowledge went unrecorded so I have offered to help. What questions should I be asking especially about Darwin, Longhurst, Russell and the courses in older times?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Neil Regan

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2003, 10:05:42 PM »
Mark,
 Some general ideas:
 Get a decent video camera, set it up unobtrusively, and ask LOTS of questions. Let him talk, he'll answer questions you hadn't thought to ask.
 Keep it personal. He'll probably know a lot about Darwin et al that is already fairly well known. Ask him about his personal experiences with them. He's more likely to recall unique incidents, e.g. a funny remark from Darwin, in the course of telling a story than if you were to ask him directly if he remembered anything funny Darwin might have said.
 Regarding the courses in older times, try to phrase your questions to receive objective rather than subjective answers. I am always asking older members about our course way back when, and I have learned a few things about the questions to be asked. For instance, if I ask whether greens were faster back then, well, I get every possible answer based on whatever "faster" might mean. So I ask specific questions such as "Do you remember if people used to putt off the 15th green ?"
 Get some old pictures, and show them to him. I remember going through every single page of the Machrihanish scrapbook with Bob Ballantyne, then also about 90 and the very man who put much of it together. The stories that just emerged were better than anything I could have known to ask. I loved his notation about two scorecards he put in the book. One says "Scorecard 1926". The other, from c. 1910, says "old scorecard". To Bob, 1926 wasn't old.
 I hope this helps.

Neil
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Grass speed  <>  Green Speed

ed_getka

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2003, 10:27:42 PM »
Mark,
 I would use a tape recorder and as others have recommended just have a conversation with him. Ask questions you think of, but it will be continuation of the answer that probably will prove more interesting.

I have had the good fortune to know Herb Wind the past 5-6 years and we have had wonderful lunches together talking golf 3-4 hours at a time. Unfortunately I didn't record any of our conversations. I've been thinking it would have been nice to have that info recorded so if anyone were to ever do a biography or something of the sort about Herb I could provide them with some more material.

As Herb is getting on in years he is beginning to have a harder time remembering so I have missed an opportunity. Don't let this one pass you by. You never know when that gentleman's knowledge and memories will come in handy.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"Perimeter-weighted fairways", The best euphemism for containment mounding I've ever heard.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2003, 10:07:18 AM »
I would ask him if Alex Russell spoke at all of Dr. MacKenzie.

I'd also ask if he remembers testing out any tees or holes that Russell didn't build at Paraparaumu.  Lewis Lapham hit balls for MacKenzie at Cypress Point in the same capacity, and he said he tried out alternate tees for several holes (esp. 13 and 17) which were never built.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Paul_Turner

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2003, 02:32:43 PM »
Mark

My Qs:

Did he meet JF Abercrombie at Addington?  If so, wht was old Aber like?  Darwin wrote in Country Lifeth that Colt helped Aber with the first Addington course, perhaps your friend knows?  Did he play the Addington New course and what was it like?

Did Tom Dunn really design the bulk of the Mildenhall 9?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2003, 03:49:29 PM »

Thanks Ed, Neil, Tom, Paul.

Tom, do you blame Alex Russell for the apparent break-down in communication between Australia and Alister MacKenzie after the fact? You have spoken often about your belief that MacKenzie never understood how well the courses turned out. Philip Russell told me last year that his father "avoided letter writing his entire life". Part of me feels it was a shame MacKenzie didn't get much feedback/photography from there.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2003, 07:43:18 AM »
Paul,

I don't "blame" Alex Russell at all, I just find it ironic that MacKenzie never knew much about how some of his best work turned out.

I don't know how long it took Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath and Victoria to fully implement his suggestions -- in some cases it could have been several years, in which case Dr. MacKenzie wouldn't have lived long enough to see the final result.

It is surprising that Royal Melbourne itself does not appear to have communicated with MacKenzie at all after his visit.  Perhaps at the time they assigned more of the credit for the work to their own men, Russell and Morcom ... after all MacKenzie was paid only as a consultant, not to design a whole new course, even though that is pretty much what he did.

Someone in Australia did tell me that Alex Russell shied away from pursuing design commissions because he didn't need the money and didn't want it to tinge his amateur golfer status ... refusing income would certainly have strained his "partnership" with MacKenzie.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2003, 05:42:34 PM »

The largest MacKenzie & Russell fee I have seen was 75 (Yarra Yarra). I could be wrong but I don't believe Russell personally accepted anything for either of the two courses at his home club, Royal Melbourne, and I know he didn't ask for anything from Lake Karrinyup or Paraparaumu Beach (we later presented him with a silver hip-flask). I have always imagined this was because of Alex's own benevolence. Someone who merely recognised a way to help people through his design and engineering talents and, like you say, being a country squire he didn't need the money.

A lot of sporting bodies during the 20s and 30s did have a rather exaggerated view of their own importance however. As a golfer of some renown, maybe the purity of his amateur status became an issue -- as it later did for Jones. Different sports of course, but around 1928 Don Bradman was being told he couldn't take money for writing for the Sun (and play for Australia) because journalism wasn't his main occupation.

Seeing I've brought up cricket Tom, is there a history there between you and Richie Benaud? I saw his name in Anatomy and imagine it is the Richie Benaud.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2003, 06:18:04 PM »
Mark
I would ask him about Morrison, what period he knew him. What he knows of Morrison's design activities, and his relationship with Colt and Alison, and what he knows of those two gents. And Darwin's relationship with Colt, Alison and Morrision. Morrison was also very fond of Worlington...if I'm not mistaken it was his favorite golf course.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2003, 01:28:42 AM »

Tom MacWood, what was Fred's surname from Darwin's biography "The world that Fred made"? I spoke to this man - Ian Ewen - tonight and he kept referring to "Darwin's man" Fred Robinson at Cambridge. May have said Robertson but I don't think so.

This man Robinson taught Ewen to really play, and lots of the other Cambridge players as well. He said a few started going to Henry Cotton (for some reason Cotton was based in Belgium or Hollland and didn't get on well with the other English pros) but Ewen said Cotton was someone who taught his method rather than adapting something around the player, Butch Harmon-style.

Says his best friend at Cambridge was a left hander named Lucas who was a very good amateur in England before the war. Perhaps someone could tell me his first name.

Recieved his Blue for the Cambridge v Oxford matches at Hoylake and also played the president's putter matches at Rye several times.

As well as Darwin, he also knew Sarazen and Bobby Locke. Told me he beat Bobby Locke in the Jelicoe Cup at Balamacewen in 1937 when Locke came to NZ.

Wasn't able to recall whether Russell spoke of MacKenzie, but believes Alex Patterson (our first secretary) would know better. Hope to ask him more about this period tomorrow.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Andy Levett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2003, 03:54:21 AM »
Mark,
His Cambridge pal would be 'Laddie' Lucas.
http://www.golftoday.co.uk/news/yeartodate/news98/lucas.htm
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2003, 08:18:44 PM »
Mark
Fred was a man-servant, I believe Darwin's gardener. As he explained in the book as a boy he'd always looked up to these Freds- be they butlers, gardners or groomers - because they appeared to be able to do anything.

Henry Cotton was based at Waterloo in Belgium.

I'd be curious of his impressions of the President's Putter.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2003, 11:49:46 PM »
Thought so. Turns out I got the name wrong anyway -- it was Fred Robson. Perhaps someone knows something about him.

Have a ton of his hand written notes from our first session this afternoon. I'm sure the president's putter is in there. Will mention anything.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Bob_Huntley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2003, 12:02:29 PM »
Mark Huxford.

Talking of Don Bradman and Australian cricket, I am reminded of two games where their superiority over the Poms was astounding.

In 1945 or 1946 an Australian team played in some victory matches in England. They played the Buckinghamshire County side at High Wycombe. I was on the County Schoolboy team and had the privilege of being a helper in the Aussie's changing room. Most of the prominent Test players were in the team. But the most electrifing performance came from Cecil Pepper, he hit six consecutive sixes off of some poor old leg spinner. (For those Americans not up on cricket, that is the equivalent of hitting  six homes runs).

The next game was the Australian side of 1948, probably one of the best sides ever to play the game. The openers put on a couple of hundred runs and looked as though they were going to stay all day. Keith Miller wanted to be excused to go the horse races, Bradman refused his request. At about 500 for two,  Miller went in, took stumps and was out first ball.
Bradman was pi..ed, said something to Miller who promptly changed and caught the last race! I think Bradman declared at 706 for 6.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

ForkaB

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2003, 12:13:38 PM »
Bob

I never saw Bradman play live, but it must be the most heroic/tragic incident in world sport when he was out for 2 (or whatever) in his last Test innings which brought his career average down to 99.96 (or whatever).  I bled inside when my childhood hero, Mickey Mantle, finished his career with a .298 average as a result of staying on just one year too long, but that was a tragedy which was played out over a whole season and not just on one delivery.

Rihc
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2003, 01:17:06 PM »
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.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2003, 01:18:53 PM »
Henry Longhurst and John Morrison.
Longhurst was a Cambridge old member and later on became a regular starter in teams against the University. He wrote for the Daily Telegraph and was regarded as the up-coming successor to Bernard Darwin in the mid 1930s. In the 1950s he came down to see our new links at Paraparaumu Beach and was in the middle of describing how much like the British links it looked when all of a sudden a rainstorm worthy of the tropics began! Henry always had a wonderful sense of humour and loved his gins after golf. Sometimes a little too much; one time being pulled over for drink-driving.

"We have been observing your progress Mr. Longhurst" said the police officer " and we have reason to believe you are driving this vehicle under the influence of alcohol." "What a relief", replied Henry, "I thought the steering had gone bung!"



Another time Henry had been pigeon shooting in a muddy wood the evening before a match and hadn't had time to clean his shoes. On the first hole his foursomes partner John Morrison waited for Henry to start his backswing before inquiring "Do you clean your own shoes or does your man do them for you?". Morrison was well respected by everyone and was one of the top London golfers in the 1930s. He received two Blues for golf before the first War and a third after it.

 

Bobby Locke.
When we played the varsity match at Hoylake in 1936, Sid Brews had brought Bobby Locke over to England as a 19 year old to play in the British Open. A member of our team, Christian Watermayer, also from South Africa, knew Bobby personally so we saw quite a lot of him. They were practising for the Open which was to be played at Hoylake that summer. He was a wonderful putter and hit all his full shots with a pronounced draw as most people know. On the greens he believed he could hole everything so he would try to and often succeed. Years later in America he would drive others like Hogan to distraction.

Percy Allis and Alfred Padgham.
Percy Allis was another one of the top pros of the era and later a golf commentator like his son, Peter. Like Darwin he had a good command of the English language and was a popular fellow. I played against him once in the foursomes of the pros v. amateurs match. In the singles I drew Alf Padgham who had won the '36 Open Bobby Locke had been practising so hard for. Needless to say I duly came second!

Harry Bentley and Harry Oppenheimer.
Also in 1936 I was fortunate to meet Harry Bentley, a member of Southport & Ainsdale. He won the English Amateur and also played in the Walker Cup. A colourful character who played for two or three London clubs was Harry Oppenheimer, one of the three brothers running the big South African gold and diamond company. He amused everyone by dressing immaculately in different colour plus-fores with matching sox and jersey. He had a different outfit every single week!

The two University teams played a different leading London club every Saturday from October to March. We also had social games against other London area clubs on Sundays. Dale Bourne, Brigadier Critchley, Mr. Storey, Lord Brabazon and other prominent players turned out for clubs like Sunningdale, Wentworth, West Hill, Worpelsdon, Addington, Woking, the Berkshire etc.

Rodger and Joyce Wethered.
I once played in a Cambridge team against a side of top British ladies at Ashridge Park, a nice wooded course northwest of London. Joyce Wethered was playing and I remember going over specifically to watch her hit some shots. She was undoubtedly the best lady golfer of her time and won many championships. Joyce and her brother Rodger wrote a book together on the swing named "Golf From Two Sides" which was very popular from 1925. Rodger Wethered played for Oxford so I didn't know him as well as the Cambridge fellows but he was a British Amateur champion and someone who was fascinated by all facets of golf and had a great love for the game.




Cyril Tolley and "Boxer" Cannon.
Cyril Tolley was a noted long hitter and probably the best British player in the 1930s. I recall watching Laddie play an important match against Tolley at Mildenhall (Royal Worlington & Newmarket). Coming to the last green all-square Laddie had a fast downhill putt to win the match. He knocked it well by and three-putted to let Tolley in. J.H.S. "Boxer" Cannon, a well known local who held the record at Mildenhall for many years, buttonholed Laddie afterwards and told him to always play downhill putts off the toe of the putter to avoid repeating his mistake.
The home hole on this 9 hole course at Worlington was a great challenge with large English trees on the boundary. Tolley and other very long hitters could take on the corner of the dogleg and just about reach the green which lay just across the entrance road. One could play a safe drive to the left and then play a short pitch or risk taking on the trees and going out-of-bounds. Rather like the drive at the 17th at St. Andrews.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2003, 01:20:46 PM »
The varsity match.
The Cambridge v Oxford match was always played on a top links or course. The teams consisted of ten golfers plus two reserves. On the Friday before the match, the reserves played 18 holes of foursomes and singles. The losing university paid for the dinner celebrations. Saturday consisted of teams of ten playing 36 hole foursomes matches, while Sunday had all ten playing a gruelling 36 holes of singles. On both days lunch separated the two rounds.

On the Saturday morning I remember feeling very nervous and was wondering how I would ever be able to play. Fred Robson gave me a "secret" pill he said would calm my nerves. Laddie told me later all I had taken was aspirin! The psychological effect worked on me however and I played well. Our Oxford opponents on the first day were both from Melbourne, Australia - Jim Shackel and John Baillieu of the famous Melbourne Baillieu family. Dr. Mackenzie wrote about the controversial 17th at Royal Liverpool which is similar in some respects to the Road hole at St. Andrews. This hole has great memories for me as it was where my partner George Carter and I beat our Oxford opponents 2 & 1 when I managed to hole an 8 foot putt. I believe I won my singles as well and the team won the match 12-3 which tied the record at the time for the largest victory.

President's Putter.
Sadly I have never returned to Britain in January so I have never had the chance to play in the President's Putter matches at Rye. Stupid Brits! Why must they play in horrible wintry weather?

Gary Player.
My wife and I remember him coming to New Zealand and winning the Open at Paraparaumu. He played the 17th hole in a memorable fashion. There was a howling cold southerly blowing straight into Gary's face. He hit a terrific drive that just reached the top of the plateau down the left side, then he took out a wood and proceeded to put his ball on the green from about 200 yards away. He then holed a good size putt for a 3 and then did the same again into the wind at the last - this time for an eagle. We saw something of him each day of the tournament as I was playing as well. My wife and I both thought he was very pleasant.

Several years later we were at Cherry Hills in Denver watching the US Open (1960). We were sitting under willow trees beside a path on the 12th hole - a par 3 with a water carry - as Gary Player walked by. He turned to my wife and said "you're a long way from home!". What a memory.

Gene Sarazen.
I saw him play only one time when he came to New Zealand to play an exhibition match against Hornabrook. Fred Robson had taught me how to play what he called the bump niblick shot for stop shots off bare ground around the green. On returning to New Zealand in 1937 I played Hornabrook in a match and watched as he played this exact shot. I asked him where he learnt it and he said Sarazen taught it to him.

Norman von Nida and Bruce Crampton.
One of the funniest incidents I recall was during the New Zealand foursomes at Auckland. Silk and I were playing von Nida and Crampton and it was pouring with rain. A worm was on the von's putting line. The caddie wanted to move it but the von wasn't sure if that was within the rules. We all just stood there laughing in the pouring rain as the worm slowly disappeared!

Peter Thomson.
I know him well. Probably about the best natural golfer I have watched. He and Nagle are honorary members at Paraparaumu. They used to come and play in the Caltex tournament every year in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Peter once gave my wife and I his clinic in a hotel passage in Dunedin when he and I were playing in the New Zealand Open. Like Fred Robson, Peter believes in a simple swing with correct grip and stance.

Kel Nagle.
Again, I used to meet Kel when he came to Paraparaumu for the Caltex or the Open. On one occasion Kel needed a 3 to tie Peter Thomson for the Open at Paraparaumu. On the 72nd hole he had a 50 to 60 yard pitch shot to do it. After due study of the distance he went back and took his stance and proceeded to hole out! The best finish I have ever seen to a tournament. He always used to address his drives with the club off the ground and a little outside the ball. As my wife says, he had a swing all his own. He was however a great putter and had a delightful personality.

Sloan Morpeth.
Sadly, Sloan was a little before my time so I never knew him well. He married Susie Tolhurst - an Australian lady champion - and by 1930 had already left for Australia and never came back. He was a great player and administrator.



Alex Russell.
In 1949 Douglas Whyte invited Guy Horne, John Hornabrook and I to hit shots in front of Alex Russell, the famous golf architect from Melbourne, as part of the preparation for the new links at Paraparaumu. Russell had been in partnership with Dr. Mackenzie since 1926 and was a Cambridge old member (Jesus College). I vaguely recall discussing the Society with him but I do not remember him talking about Dr. MacKenzie (in perhaps an interesting Freudian slip Ian was asked to write a course summary for the club in 1991 and wrote "McKenzie" each time he meant Russell). We played shots from different places and tested out several alternative tees Russell wanted an opinion on. One was the short 16th from a tee about 20 yards behind and slightly to the left of the current tee. Russell rejected this tee however on the grounds that it made too narrow an angle to the green and was too long for the tiny postage stamp target.



We discussed where to put the 17th tee. Originally it was to be on the hill beside the 16th green and he moved it down onto the flat. There was an alternate tee for the 4th hole left of the current back tee, further up the hill left of the 15th fairway. This was never constructed however and is difficult to visualise today, covered by fir trees. Consideration was given to placing the 8th tee near the boundary fence with a slight walk back and to the left from the 7th green. Russell was keen on the idea but included an alternative position for the 8th tee (its current position) if constructing a fairway through what is now the sand quarry proved too expensive. In 1950 it was considered too expensive to carry out the necessary earthworks although today it would make an interesting shot for long hitters on its own. As most people know, the 18th was played as a dogleg from a tee just behind the 17th green - but for the 2002 Open it was decided to change to the present tees and make the hole longer and straightaway. Many members like myself consider this has taken the character out of the hole and maybe this should revert back to the original Russell design?

Over the years the fairways have been narrowed and the rough has been allowed to grow longer - I disagree with both. This is not how Russell designed the course. Russell wanted a links enjoyable for the average golfer.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2003, 01:21:59 PM »
Douglas Bader and Joe Conrad.
In 1956 I had the honour of playing with Douglas Bader at Sunningdale, thanks to Laddie Lucas. That year in the British Amateur at Troon I drew the title holder, Joe Conrad, who had won the previous year at Royal Lytham. We started our match at quarter-to-five in the afternoon in front of a large Scottish crowd who were very supportive of me. When I got 1-up I felt myself being cheered! Unfortunately it didn't last and I was beaten 4 & 2.
  
On British courses.
The Cambridge team played Royal Worlington, Hunstanton, Burnham, West Hill, Wentworth, Addington, Worpelsdon (famous for its mixed foursomes), Sunningdale, Berkshire, Woking and others on a Saturday or Sunday. Laddie Lucas was a member at Brancaster which was very low lying. At high tide the North Sea would sometimes flood some of the fairways!

Westward Ho and Saunton down in the west country are both very pleasant links as is St. Enodoc in the west of Cornwall - always worth a visit.

Swinley Forest was very exclusive and many diplomats used to be members there and it was considered a real privilege to be invited to play. The Berkshire was a very nice course. It used to be Royal Berkshire in the 1930s until Edward Prince of Wales took the professional into the clubhouse against the wishes of the Secretary. He said if he could not take the pro in with him for a drink he would take away the Royal prefix from the club (can someone confirm this?).

There are nice park courses around Watford / St. Albans in Herts. West Herts, Moorpark (has nice accommodation), Porters Park, Oxley, all worth a visit. Berkhamstead, a public course on the heathland was a great inexpensive place to play.

Formby had a fascinating pair of links. The men's links are designed around the shorter women's links and both have separate clubhouses. Pre-war, men had to be specially invited to enter the women's clubhouse and visa versa. I had a friend who was a member and I loved playing the links. Formby, Woking and Hoylake were my favourite English courses.

On American courses.
I must stick up for Del Monte, Monterey. It is not a championship course but it is a delightful pleasant place for a round of golf for the average player. The Monterey Peninsula CC has some magnificent holes too and adjoins the wonderful Cypress Point, where you can hear the sea calling out all day. Olympic and San Francisco courses are a delight to play. While with friends in Los Angeles we played several leading courses including Riviera and Bel Air where many actors are members. (At Bel Air?) there is a lift from the 9th green to the 10th tee and several locker rooms, one almost specifically for Bob Hope!

Sadly many US courses are merely copies of other courses and are very standardised. Robert Trent Jones, the golf architect, was very guilty of this, especially in Hawaii. Too many modern courses have forced carries from the tee that are impossible for the weaker player and the beginner. Robert Hunter wrote that the charm of British links is the originality shown in their design. How true he was!

On Canadian courses.
Do not miss playing Banff if you get the chance - most spectacular. There are some nice courses in Vancouver also. Vancouver Island - Oak Bay is one. St. Charles CC, Winnipeg, is a fine park course. It's laid out by the Red river which runs into the Arctic Ocean. I have friends in Winnipeg living near the course.

On technology.
The mid 1930s was an era of ball change and club change. The rubber core ball and steel shaft were beginning to come into general use. Some of us in the Cambridge team were asked to use a newly manufactured rubber core ball as a trial. The pioneers of a very good steel-shafted club were Nicolle of Levan, Scotland. Great was my joy when my parents gave me a set for my 21st birthday. Bernard Darwin warned us about ever-lengthening courses however. Laddie Lucas wrote in the 1970s that the R&A and USGA discussed limitations to golf clubs and golf balls but largely due to the objections of the manufacturers no agreement could be reached.

It is stupid to make links courses particularly, like the new long park and inland courses. On a links the hazards are mostly natural. Each links has its own uniqueness and charm and the wind makes up for lack of length on many links holes. In my opinion courses do not need to be long to be interesting, testing and play well anyway.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2003, 06:52:06 PM »

If anyone can dig up the "scorecard" from the 1936 match that would be greatly appreciated.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2003, 07:03:31 PM »
Mark
Fascinating stuff. You should make it an 'In My Opinion' piece. I'll keep my eyes open for info on the 1936 match.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mark_Huxford

Re: What Questions Would You Ask?
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2003, 07:48:39 PM »
Thanks Tom. That would really be something to show this gentleman. We couldn't work out who he played in the singles so maybe seeing some of the Oxford names will jog his memory and perhaps stir some other stories. I think he did incredibly well considering how much time has passed. I can't remember what I did last week!  :)

Frank Pennick and Patric Dickinson came up but I have nothing down for them yet. I know Dickinson wrote this flowery book "A Round Of Golf Courses" but Pennick is somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps you could tell me what courses he is most famous for; I recall him being discussed on this board in the past.

As for Morrison we believe he had quite a lot to do with an early revision of Princes GC with Sir Guy Campbell, but Mr. Ewen couldn't really shed a lot of light on his design activities outside those you already know about (Haagsche, Kennemer, Frankfurter etc). He told me that "in those days we never really concerned ourselves with whom the architects were", which I found interesting considering then, like now, so few were responsible for a majority of the work.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

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