Golf memories and souvenirs

I was very keen on golf as a boy and also played some at Giggleswick where there was a 9 hole rocky course – the Settle Golf Club, After school I never played until my Thirties when I used to play golf on some Sunday mornings at Scarcroft usually with our neighbour Phil Coldbeck or my brother Douglas and nephew Richard. Eventually, I played with Phil most Sundays and we had considerable success in the club competitions at Scarcroft Golf Club near Leeds As a teenager I spent virtually all my school holidays in Filey. I recall a number of good times there. I particularly enjoyed golf which I started to learn at the Filey Golf  Club when I was around 10 or 11 years old – first when we visited and then when we lived there. Both my brother Douglas and my father had been country members of the Filey Golf Club for many years in the Thirties and I became a junior member in my early teens in the Forties.

Filey Golf Club.   The golf club  had been established in 1897 on land to the north of the town and moved to its present site on the south cliff in 1899. The design of the ‘new links’ is credited to James Braid, the legendary golfer, and examples of his design features can be seen on the course. It has been suggested that Dr. Alister Mackenzie, a famous British golf course architect, during his period of residence in Leeds, made amendments to the original design. Interestingly, Harry Vardon, during his period as club professional at nearby Ganton, would often play challenge matches over at Filey. The course has been modified over the years but still retains the original James Braid layout and magnificent views from many holes.

18th green with Filey Brigg in the distance
First green with Bempton and Flamborough Head in the distance

I remember those times at the golf club in the Forties very clearly. It was wartime and there were areas near some golf holes, such as those near Primrose Valley,  one could not to retrieve one’s golf ball as they were mined as part of the coastal defences! Indeed the land mines had killed a number of people who failed to heed the many warning signs and entered the forbidden mined areas. I had golf lessons from the old golf professional called affectionately “Pop” Beck” – Alfred Ward Beck.

Alfred Ward Beck –“Pop Beck” (1878-1951) was an interesting man. Apparently he was the youngest of thirteen children born in Grouville, one of the twelve parishes of Jersey. He was an island compatriot of another famous golfer Harry Vardon, and so was yet another Jersey man to earn his living at a North of England golf club. At the age of 15 years he went to Dinard France as golf professional and was already giving golf lessons. The following year in 1895, on the recommendation of Harry Vardon Pop came to Filey and was appointed professional aged around 20 years old soon after the club was formed in 1897; he remained in post until 1946, after the end of the Second World War.

His brother, Thomas Helier Beck, (b. 1883) joined him in Filey for a couple of years around 1904. His son, Alfred Gibson Beck (1904-1987), generally known as Freddie, was born at Filey and was his assistant before becoming the professional at Bradley Hall, Sherwood Forest and Leicester Golf clubs. Freddie had one professional win – the 1937 Midland Professional Championship. Freddie resembled his younger brother Arthur whom I remember well. Both were short men  who used long clubs. Pop Beck was succeeded at Filey by his son Arthur Beck    (Information from John Winship, a former caddy of A W Beck).

Freddie beck
Freddie Beck second from the right – short man with long driver
filey old club
The old Filey clubhouse in 1936 showing first tee, old wooden clubhouse and golfers dressed as was usual at the time 

                  Pop Beck must have been well into his late Sixties (considered old in those days!) when he gave me lessons. He remained professional at Filey for 47 years until 1946 as his son, Arthur Beck, a young professional golfer, was away in the forces. Arthur did take over from his father as the club professional when he returned from the war in 1946. Those were the days when the golf clubs had wooden shafts and names rather than numbers – Driver, Brassie (2 wood), Spoon (3 wood), Mashie (5 iron), Mashie-Niblick (7 iron), and Niblick (8 iron), Sand Iron (9 iron), etc and there were no such things as electric golf trolleys – not even non-electric golf trolleys! I remember Pop Beck’s favourite expression when he observed some high handicapper trying to hit the ball, was “I could beat ‘im with a mashie and a putter”.

In the summer holidays I used to spend much of every day at the golf club usually playing golf with other boys or any visitors looking for a game.

New clubhouse
     Present day Filey GC clubhouse

The old Filey GC clubhouse (visible in photo) was used up to 2003 when the impressive new clubhouse replaced it. It is hard to believe that in those days, in the Forties, the club Professional was not expected to come into the clubhouse and mix socially with the “gentlemen”

  Although never a truly dedicated golfer due to the demands of my job, in 1974 I won the British Paediatric Association golf competition (the Ulster Cup) for the third time. Eventually I won it a record 3.5 times as some years later I drew with Dr Peter Dunn from Bristol.  I used to play golf on some Sunday mornings at Scarcroft near our home in Leeds  usually with our neighbour Phil Coldbeck or my brother Douglas and nephew Richard. Eventually I played every Sunday with Phil and we had considerable success in the club competitions at Scarcroft.

Phil Coldbeck was a brilliant golfer, at one time he had a handicap of 2 !  We seemed to be effective as a pair wining a number of competitions at Scarcroft including the Team Golf (1976), The Clayton Foursomes (1980), and the Rimmel Trophy (1982).

President’s putter
Team Golf (1976), The Clayton Foursomes (1980), and the Rimmel Trophy (1982). On right cup for the President’s Putter

I won the President’s Putter in 1982 with an unbelievable, never before or since achieved,  gross score 78 (7 over par) and my handicap was pulled from 12 to 8; subsequently I never played to that handicap!

The British Paediatric Association Ulster Cup was played for by doctors attending the Annual Meeting of the Association.  I won the cup a record three times and drew on one occasion. My only mention in the history of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health!

Sharing the Ulster Cup with Dr Pater Dunn
Jim with the Ulster Cup

The Ulster Cup proved a mixed blessing. During one of the years we possessed it at home it was knocked off a shelf and badly dented. We had to arrange repairs!

It was good that a number of the North American CF Conferences were arranged at major golf centres e.g. World Golf Centre in Orlando. One year I was a member of the team who won a Texas Scramble – all take tee shots and play the best drive of each pair.

Winning Texas Scramble team is Orlando 1989

In more recent years we spent many pleasant weeks at the Holiday Property Bond  facility at Henllys in Anglesey with Ann’s sister Mary Dawson and her husband George – both enthusiastic started-late-in-life golfers.

Ann putts while Mary and George watch at Henllys in Beaumaris
             HPB Henllys GC Anglesey

The course is hilly but there ar breath taking views across to the mainland.  We had many many happy times there.

    Archie on a visit to Radcliffe for golf

For the last 10 years through my Eighties I played every weekend with a retired colleague, Mr Archie Crompton a surgeon who had been a colleague at St James’s. We had some good games at the Leeds Golf Centre. Archie started golf when he retired, after obtaining first class honours in the university degree; he was steadily improving and I was slowly deteriorating!   

Although I had been made very welcome at the Radcliffe Golf Club when we moved here in 2016 I decided to give up golf for gentle gardening as I was approaching 90 years of age!