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Typical of Hagen’s matches the start was later than had been planned; he was always a law unto himself, although some of his exploits were exaggerated. [For instance that hole-in-one the chronicler reported in the final of the 1925 USPGA (* see p 23) is not mentioned in ‘Sir Walter – The Flamboyant Life of Walter Hagen’, a recent biography by Tom Clavin, in which the author tells us that the Haig’s only ace came in a practise round for the 1925 US Open at Worcester, Ma. Hagen himself confirmed that one in his 1957 autobiography, ‘The Walter Hagen Story’, but said he had another that year in an exhibition match at Portland Oregon and that those were the only two he ever had]. On the Saturday following our match he was to play a challenge match against Henry Cotton at Ashridge G. C.- the first encounter between those two great players; when the match was due to tee off Walter was still relaxing in his room at the Savoy in London. Henry lost that 36-hole match by 2&1 but beat two of Walter’s Ryder Cup team in exhibition matches that year – Gene Sarazan at Temple Newsam and Ed Dudley at Hornsea. [Dudley had a smooth powerful action, which Cotton described as the most beautiful swing he had ever seen. He was pro at Augusta National for twenty years.] Henry would have been a great asset to our Ryder Cup side at Southport & Ainsdale, but they managed to win without him.

As our match progressed I became increasingly concerned that we would not catch the 6pm boat train from Birmingham to Liverpool for the crossing. Walter was aware of our predicament and offered to walk in, when they won the match on the 12th green but, as they were being paid to appear, this was not really an option and we had to complete the round. The better-ball score of the two Americans was 64. Charlie and I then dashed to a car for the journey from Moseley to New Street Station, which was the hairiest I have ever experienced. Driving us was Geoff Litherland, the Brand Hall member I mentioned earlier; a Penfold rep. who had at one time been a Rover test driver and had not forgotten how to put his foot down. How he managed to avoid a collision I will never know, but he got us there in time – just! The train was pulling out as we boarded. On another occasion I was not so lucky when leaving Brand Hall squashed into Geoff’s two-seater sports car with Jack Mitchley. He pulled out in front of a passing car and we were shunted across the road. I think that I was lucky to survive my journeys with Messrs Litherland and Mitchley.

The match against Ireland on the Tuesday was at Malone and I had to go out to play having never seen the course before. Fortunately, in the foursomes I was again partnered by one of the Whitcombe brothers - Ernest, an experienced campaigner who knew the course and he worked out a match plan under which he would tee off at all the short holes. His strategy paid off with a fairly comfortable win over Royal Dublin’s Paddy Mahon and Moses O’Neill, who had been pro at the midland clubs, Robin Hood (Solihull), and The Wrekin. [A giant raw boned man with an “old-fashioned, dashing, slashing swing and big hands that seem to wrap themselves round the club”, said the Times reporter]. I also won my singles against J. Hamill and the match served as my practise for the Open starting the next day. I shot 72, 74, 72, 72 for a total of 290 and third place, two shots behind second placed Alf Padgham, then at Royal Ashdown Forest and four behind the winner, E. W. H (Bob) Kenyon of West Lancashire, who showed a considerable improvement in form, after coming a lowly 44th at St Andrews, to regain the title he had won two years earlier at Royal Dublin. Thus begun, my love affair with Ireland was to be one of the highlights of my golfing life. The return journey was more relaxed and I had £60 compensation for the experience. It doesn’t sound much now but that was a tidy sum in those days.

I went to the annual Ringway Foursomes at the club situated on the outskirts of Manchester, in a quiet village back then. It was a few years before the building of the nearby Ringway airfield, which grew into the city’s huge international airport. The Foursomes was a popular event in those pre-war days and attracted some of the leading pros; it was to have the strangest ending of any event that I played in. My partner was two-handicap Geoff Litherland and this time the journey was uneventful.
We came in with a score of 150 for the two rounds, not good enough to win anything we thought. Refreshments were laid on and we had downed a few, when we were informed that we had tied with a pairing from Ormskirk, R. B. Stephens and pro G. H. Chalk, and would have to play off for third place - over four holes. It was getting late as we assembled on the first tee and the light was fading. I took a practise swing taking a huge divot out of the tee, which caused the spectators to move back, but when I teed off I somehow managed to make good contact – in fact the ball reached the green 280 yards away.

That put us one ahead and, with my partner hitting it thin, but straight, we stayed that way until we reached the last green. By this time darkness had fallen and the spectators had to line up on the green so that we could putt along the line of their feet, while one struck a match and held it in the hole. We won this oddest of play-offs and my partner received a crystal rose bowl - which he did not consider was sufficient compensation for being dragged from the bar.

As 1933 ended my prospects seemed bright, but that year had begun with a very significant development in world history that would be critical for the future careers of myself - and many others. Adolf Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany.