Club Life in the Twenties
Meanwhile club life continued. Exhibition matches were arranged for visiting professionals. In 1921, two leading professionals, Duncan and Ray, played against the Club professional, Nichols and W E Stewart, a low-handicap member, in an exhibition match. Subsequently it was minuted: “The Committee expressed their satisfaction at the visit of Duncan and Ray on Sunday 1st May 1921, and at the admirable manner in which the whole proceedings were carried out.” In 1922 Harry Vardon played with Ray in a similar fixture.
The annual match against the House of Commons continued – in May 1922 it is recorded that Sir Shirley Benn promised to contact Mr Angus Hambro MP to fix a date for the next match.
Clearly thought was given to the state of the course as can be seen from the following entry in the Suggestion Book of April 1921: “That lady members and their lady friends and the lady friends of gentlemen members be entreated not to walk round the course in high-heeled shoes”!
In October 1922 a notable new member was the Honourable Patrick Bowes-Lyon, (Lord Glamis), the oldest brother of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. However, it appears that he resigned at the end of the playing year.
Horses were still used to cut the fairways. An interesting entry in the Suggestion Book of January 1923 read: “That when horses are employed for rolling or cutting they be furnished with shoes to prevent the fairway being so marked and indented as to render them quite unfit for play.”
Six days after that suggestion was made, the Board agreed “to allow Mr Long of Cokes Farm to graze his sheep on the course subject to the following conditions: 1) that the sheep were under the control of a shepherd all the time; 2) that they be taken off every night; 3) not on course at weekends; 4) or such days as any director or official of club may determine; 5) that Mr Long agrees to make good, clean and leave to grass all the existing ploughed land up to the greens - the latter to be replaced by the club”.
It was not until the Spring of 1928 that the Club moved from using horses on the course to having its own petrol-driven appliances. In the February minutes it is recorded: “Agreed to purchase Metropolitan tractor at £150, to sell horses and terminate Bryant. Annual cost of using horses plus two men was £313 against £266 for one man and a tractor.”
Although there always appeared to be a shortage of members during this period, it is interesting to note a Greens Committee Minute of December 1928 that reads “In view of increasing congestion on the course, four ball matches will not be permitted on Sunday mornings except in competitions”. It is presumed that the play had to be either singles or foursomes but this is not made clear. Snippets of club life were provided by entries in the suggestion book. One dated March 1925 reads: “That an electric stove be put in the hut where the chauffeurs have to remain all the day”! Another, in October 1926, reads: “That a separate room or lounge should be provided for ladies, or a room solely for bridge or a separate room for sleepers and snorers”. It is assumed that a hyperactive, non-cardplaying, chauvinist male raised this suggestion!
Clearly the Club management was eco-friendly even in those days. In September 1927 the Secretary was asked to erect a ledge under the birds nest on the veranda to keep the members underneath free from harm without upsetting the birds!