Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chapter 7: Wentworth 1926

Another Tale from Ashdown Forest

   Did I tell you about Abe's Aunt Polly, one of several Mitchells to be called "professional" because she was a caddie over the age of 14,  and, to be frank, she was the best caddie at the Royal Ashdown Club?  It was Aunt Polly who caddied for the Reverend Williams on the day he foozled his ball from the ditch at the 7th directly into the fundament of a grazing outside agency with a full udder.  Once the startled animal recovered from her surprise, Abe's Aunt Polly retrieved, cleaned, and returned the ball to the Reverend Williams and by doing so assured herself a place in Ashdown Forest history, alongside Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, who lived with their creator A.A. Milne, on the unkempt verges of the golf course.

The 38th Ryder Cup is History
      Alas, the Match from Wales is over.  Were you, as I was, cleverly lulled into boredom only to be astounded at the end? I started a pencil sketch of Seve (see previous blog) as "busy work" on Sunday and finished it off on Monday afternoon with a grand ta da, not unlike the Match itself.  It was like everybody won.  I had rarely noticed Hunter Mahan before Monday morning, but now I am inclined to do a sketch of him, too.  Hunter is a "sportsman," defined in Webster's as "fair, generous and a good loser."  Abe was a sportsman, and a good thing too, because he lost every Open he played in. 

The Ryder Cup Story continues: (click clippings to enlarge)   

      Abe, his wife Dora, and their young son Len moved to St. Albans in the the fall of 1925.  The following June 4-5, a Ryder Cup Match was played at Wentworth, not far from Windsor Castle.  Over the winter and early spring, Hagen had urged playing members of the PGA of America to play in the 1926 Open in Britain and at the same time play on an international team against British PGA members.  Team size varied day by day -- four, twelve, then eight, finally ten, half of whom had learned their golf in Britain.  Meanwhile, the British planned accordingly, but there seemed to be a lack of seriousness.
       On April 15, there was news from England that a cup was offered by an unknown donor.  A week later the donor was identified, I assume because Sam saw that his good name was worth more than the morality of  anonymous giving. 
       It's difficult to assess Hagen's haphazard manner of leadership, but beneath it all I think he understood Ryder's purpose: get the British lads to America.  I also think he had to be talked out of remuneration for the winning team.
      The 1926 Ryder Cup Match was played June 4-5, at Wentworth. The format was that used in amateur matches, such as the Walker Cup, first played in April 1921, in England.  The final score at Wentworth was Great Britain 13½, United States 1½. 
When play ended the second day,  the scattered players were brought in off the course so that Alanson Houghton, American Ambassador to the Court of St. James, could make a speech and give out medals.  But there was no cup, it was said. Yet Darwin referred to a cup donated by Ryder (see in previous blog), and reporters wrote that the British hoped  to "retain" the cup at the first Ryder Cup Match in Worcester in 1927.  The British still think Wentworth should be counted.  And I don't know what to think.
       I do know that it doesn't matter to this story.  It's what happened two weeks later that matters.  We'll get to that the next time.

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