The Major’s Correspondence

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (est. 1603)

pulsa inveni repulsa

From:  The Secretary
Royal St Luke’s Clubhouse
Carrington Magna
Suffolk SU3 1GC

  Many and varied are the issues with which one has to deal as Secretary of a great golf Club. The vast majority of golfers have no idea of the sheer range of questions, complaints, suggestions and general idiocies which are brought up by Members and left for the Secretary to sort out. Many have nothing to do with golf and everything to do with the general lack of discipline, initiative & common sense which pervades this country in peacetime. Below are a selection of problems left, literally, at my office door by members too lazy, ignorant to fathom the answers or too frightened to come in….


My Dear Major ;

Following a major prostate operation last year, I have to wear a surgical appliance, namely an “ Alert! ” incontinence pad which incorporates a loud buzzer. When, alas, the pad becomes wet, the buzzer goes off for 60 seconds and can only be silenced by tearing off the pad and squeezing it. I have however trained Briggs, my caddy, to squeeze it into silence in situ but this involves pain and a certain amount of bellowing on my part.

Now, during a matchplay tie with Mr F.G. Hargreaves yesterday, my nervous tension triggered a repeated loss of continence. As a result the buzzer sounded on four separate occasions, each time (unfortunately) when Hargreaves was at the top of his backswing. I could see that this was causing him increasing irritation and when the thing went off again as he was addressing a left-to-right 4 footer on the 18th green, he exploded, accusing me of deliberate tactical buzzing i.e. cheating – and claimed the hole and the match. He refused to be reasonable afterwards in the Clubhouse, even pretending to be shocked when I approached him in Founder’s Room with the incontinence pad and demonstrated, using a noggin of Kummel, how the buzzing was triggered. My question is ; can a surgical appliance such as my this be considered an Outside Agency or is it an Unlawful Appurtenance ? I’m sure the R&A must have a ruling somewhere on this, given the degree of incontinence at the highest level at St Andrews.

Yours etc.,

R.A. Kingsbury.


Dear Kingsbury,

A difficult one. We can find no reference to Incontinence Pads, noisy or otherwise, in the published Decisions of the Rules of Golf Committees of the R&A /USGA. Therefore our Competitions Committee has ruled as follows ; your matchplay tie with F.G Gardiner shall be replayed ; in order to restore equity between you it is ordered that Gardiner, too, will wear an “ Alert ! ” incontinence pad which he will be permitted to trigger, without warning, an equal number of times to yourself. This will be achieved using a concealed waterbottle affixed to the inside of his trousers. In future, the Committee requests that you change to the Vibrapee appliance or, even better, to the Larkrise which emits a musical twittering identical to the song of the skylarks, which are such a joy on the links in summer. This is a sound at which no opponent could take offence, even if its source, arising from your nether regions, does appear to be somewhat singular…


Dear Major;

I see that the Club is to hold a “Burns Supper” in the Clubhouse on the 25th January chaired by Brigadier Hamish MacKenzie-Stuart . This would seem to be yet another example of cultural aggression by our Scottish members and I would like to know just what this long dead poet has to with golf. Where did he play ? Did he contribute anything to the game and why should we be subjected to an evening of screeching bagpipes, steaming haggises and endless recitations of incomprehensible “poetry” in praise of highland bogs, sheep and rodents. I suspect that this is retaliation for the recent discovery of the now famous window in Gloucester cathedral depicting golf in 1380 and the awful realisation by the shattered Jocks – that golf is actually an English game.

Yours etc.,

Henry Robinson

Dear Robinson ;

I have contacted the Brigadier to establish the relevance of Robert Burns to golf. Incidentally, I agree with you that we are essentially an English club although our founder, King James VI and I, was an emigrant from Edinburgh – and was en route to London in 1603 when he laid out our inaugural 12 holes.
Burns, the national poet of Scotland, was born in Ayrshire in 1759 and played most of his golf at Prestwick and Troon. He was later elected “poet laureate” of the R&A and won their Autumn Medal at St Andrews in 1792. Golfing references pepper his poems and songs. For example Tae a Featherie is a hymn of praise to the golfball he has been using for over a year, while the original of his great international song of parting is actually Auld Lang Syme, referring to his tall foursomes partner Andrew Syme. I actually rather enjoy his rollicking narrative poem Tam O. Shanter which describes a drunken golfer, Thomas Shanter, riding home in a thunderstorm from the AGM at Prestwick Golf Club and literally stumbling into a witches’ Sabbath midnight dance in a ruined church at Alloway. Attendance at the Burns Supper is not compulsory and the prospect of the massed pipe band of the Scots Brigade beating retreat on the clubhouse lawn is one which, as a soldier, I shall savour. Do come if you can and I fact I’ll put you down to propose a toast “ Golf – an English game ! ” and we’ll see if you get home alive – or even get to the end of the first sentence….

As ever,

RJM Warren-Dawlish. Secretary


The Major and the Balloon

The Royal & Ancient Clubhouse

The Secretary
St Andrew’s KA7 3ER
Fife, Scotland
June 22nd 2007

Dear Major Warren-Dawlish,

I write to thank you on behalf of the R&A for the most successful Open Final Qualifying event staged at Royal St Luke’s. Please convey to Admiral Boothby and his regiment of marshals, stewards and scorers our unreserved thanks for the military precision and civil efficiency of the entire operation. Would the Club be willing now to consider a formal request from the R&A to rejoin the Open Championship rota? It has now been over 20 years since St Luke’s withdrew following the riot in the tented village and I think tempers have cooled sufficiently on both sides for the matter to be revisited.

One incident from your Final Qualifying urgently needs to be cleared up. We have received a formal notice of proceedings from lawyers representing a Mr Shane Graham of the Suffolk hot-air Ballooning Club. It seems that, due to an unexpected change of wind, Mr Graham’s balloon, shaped apparently like a giant sauce bottle and emblazoned “ Ramage’s Brown Sauce ” drifted low across the course as play began on your final practice day. While Mr Graham was attempting to regain altitude by jettisoning ballast, he alleges that he became aware of a running figure below who repeatedly shouted and gesticulated up at him. This figure was tall and burly, seemed to be wearing a Panama hat and plus fours – and was carrying what Mr Graham initially believed to be a shooting stick.

The figure, still running and looking upwards, then fell head over heels through a gorse bush and into a bunker. Thereupon, alleges Mr Graham, there was a loud bang from below and his basket, balloon and bottom were peppered with buckshot. He has enclosed a photograph of his backside taken later at A&E at Suffolk Infirmary which seems, prima facie , to confirm this. Apparently the now punctured balloon leaked so much gas that its also punctured pilot had to make an emergency descent into Waveney marsh, where a hard landing in mud and razor reeds did nothing for his posterior injuries – or his temper.

We understand that repairs to the balloon (and to Mr Graham) will be expensive and that we are to be the subject of proceedings under, of all things, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Emergency Regulations) Act of 1940. This would be the first such action in peacetime and, as you’ll appreciate, is highly embarrassing to the R&A. I therefore asked one of our Members, Air Chief Marshal Sir Digby Gardiner, how we should respond. His opinion is that a hot air balloon – even if it is looks like a sauce bottle, a spark plug or even a giant nappy, is actually an aircraft under the terms of the Act and it is illegal to open fire on it – unless it has clearly shown “ hostile intent ”

We are thus in the difficult position of either paying compensation quietly to Mr Graham, or going to Court to show that we believed ourselves to be under attack by a flying sauce bottle. The press will have a field day.

Finally, since the description of the anti-aircraft gunner bears a remarkable similarity to yourself, perhaps you might favour us with your version of events….

Yours ever,

Charles Delacourt

Secretary, Championship Committee.

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

pulsa inveni repulsa

Dear Charley ,

What happened was this. I had been out on the course early with Williams, my caddy / beater, looking for snipe with my Purdey 12-bores when I saw the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen on a golf course. Over the hill to the landward side of the 12th rose a bloody great sauce bottle. Williams saw it first and was swearing never to touch drink again when I told him to shut up – because I could see it too. The next thing was that out of the basket below the bottle came a stream of bags of wet sand. I suppose in retrospect it was the balloonist chap tipping out the ballast, but in these circumstances one’s military training takes over. I shouted “ Take cover ! ” and released the safety catch on the shotgun. One was clearly under attack.

You can imagine the effect of 50 pound weights whistling down from 100 feet. The first one burst among the greenkeepers, the second went clean through the roof of the shelter beside the 14th green, and the next landed right in front of J.C. Materman of Sunningdale who was in the act of playing a shot. The ball went straight into the sandbag followed by his 5-iron, which broke and Materman is now in dispute with the R&A Rules Committee as to whether a wet sand bomb is, or is not, an Outside Agency. That aside, I kept pace with the thing which was now down to about 50 feet, shouting up at the chap to clear off. In response there was a deafening roar as he fired up some enormous primus stove-like flamethrower thing in the basket. At this point I fell over backwards into a bunker and the shotgun went off, just missing Williams but sending a blast of shot up into basket, balloon and driver.

He may sue us if he wishes but I will argue that the thing was clearly displaying hostile intent and I can tell you right now that we will be countersuing Ramages Sauces (which are actually rather good) for repairs to our bombed shelter. Come to think of it, Jack Materman’s a barrister and the very man to act for us. See you in court – and at Carnoustie.

Yours ever ,

RJM Warren-Dawlish



The Major and Lasers

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (est. 1603)

pulsa inveni repulsa


The Secretary
Royal St Luke’s Clubhouse
Carrington Magna
Suffolk SU3 1GC

Bombarded daily by members on issues ranging from Rules and etiquette to theoretical astrophysics, it was perhaps not surprising that the publication of my correspondence in these columns should add an extra – and indeed international – dimension to such queries. I seem to be becoming an amalgam of the Oracle of Delphi and Madame Strogoff, that palmist who does the pros before the Open. However, a long military and civilian life has given one a certain experience which may be of value to one’s fellow creatures as we struggle to make sense of the madness around us.


Major ;

I have finally accepted that the Universe originated in a Big Bang. Now, is it continuing to expand or does it contain sufficient mass that its gravity will eventually halt the expansion and then reverse it, leading to a Big Crunch. If so, when is this likely to happen ?

R.T. Gravell , Truro

Mr Gravell;

The Universe is almost certainly behaving as it should. Whether it ends in eerie cold void, expanding endlessly as the stars finally flicker out, or in a great crunch, this is unlikely to happen, I understand, for some 13.5 billion years. Perhaps a more immediate issue for your concern is the endless expansion of golf courses to accommodate the ridiculous increase in driving length. Now this really should lead to a seriously Big Crunch – preferably later this year. In fact, if the R&A won’t introduce the re-dimpled ( 275 yd. maximum) golf ball for the Open qualifying then I will – and you’ll hear the fallout in Truro. By the way, I think you’ll find it was a Big Bang that started the business.


Major ;

Is it possible to grow Clematis (Clematis Carcasana ) on a basically sandy soil with dung-based compost against a North-East facing wall in Suffolk ?

H. Farrer, Lowestoft.

Mr. Farrer ;




I understand that Royal St Luke’s has opened an extension to its Dormy House for the treatment of what, for want of a scientific term, may be called golf addiction. It is rumoured here in London that Dr. Karl-Heinz Kneipenhocke of Vienna is in charge and that treatment involves aversion therapy and electro-convulsive shocking. I would like to admit my husband to this facility. He has confessed his addiction and has made a Statement.

Frances C. Barrington (Mrs.)

Mrs Barrington;

We do indeed operate a rehab unit here but it is presently full and there is a 16-month waiting list. Dr Kneipenhocke will however see your husband for an initial assessment to determine if aversion therapy is required or whether he can be managed with substitution treatment. The latter involves the patient being gradually weaned off golf and onto crown-green bowling, accompanied by two burly male nurses. The process is backed up by drug therapy with Linkase, a drug which triggers palmar urticaria should a patient escape and grab hold of a golf club grip. This treatment is not available on the NHS which, I understand, only deals with darts and snooker addiction. You may be interested to know that over 90% of patients pass the Cambridge test after treatment in the Unit. This test involves their walking out past the St Luke’s clubhouse, going through the gates to the main road and standing for 30 minutes, in full view of the course, waiting for a Cambridge bus. If they can achieve this without breaking down or hurling themselves at the wrought iron railings which surround us, it’s a cure.


Dear Major ;

I understand that the PGA, astonishingly, have sanctioned the use of powerful laser rangefinders in professional tournaments under their control. I am no physicist, but the word in the clubhouse is that these contraptions are based on the death-ray now used by the military to fry enemy installations at great distances. I can remember when we simply looked at the distance to the green, gauged the windspeed and played. Then it was coloured sticks, yardages on sprinkler heads, booklets showing the distances to and from hazards – and now it’s this. Where will it all end ?

You know what happened here last year when we had that trial of lasers during three monthly medals. There was flashing all over the course, play slowed up damnably and there was that fight on the 14th green when RJ Pickett thrashed Lord Venner’s caddy for shining the red laser-spot on the ball as he addressed a putt. Such is the power of the laser gun that all sorts of chicanery are possible. Some joker managed to set fire to the backside of Henry Summers’s plus–fours last week, probably the same chap who scared the Captain witless by igniting his cigar from half a mile away.

You must have seen “Robocop” recently, Nigel Franklin’s caddy in his leathers and motorcycle helmet with tinted visor. He actually looks more and more like a mobile weatherstation. He has a helmet-mounted laser for the distances, while the revolving anemometer and weathervane on top of his head feed in the windspeed and direction. Rumour has it that his helmet visor has an ultraviolet capability allowing him, even in deep rough, to “see” his ball to which he is directed by a GPS system linked to 14 orbiting satellites, while the Stock Exchange prices endlessly roll across his head-up display. Major, please, don’t you think that it’s time that we went back to golf ?

T.R. Boyd


Dear Mr. Boyd;



RJM Warren-Dawlish