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The Open was not the huge money spinning affair it is today of course. A frequent ‘omnibus’ service was laid on to ferry them between the two qualifying courses - Prince’s and Royal St George’s. They came to watch the great Americans - Sarazen and the two émigré Scottish pros – defending champion Tommy Armour and Carnoustie born Macdonald Smith who the Times described as ‘The Big Three’, a title bestowed on Nicklaus, Palmer and Player in years to come. British hopes were pinned on 24-year-old Henry Cotton, Arthur Havers, Percy Alliss, Abe Mitchell, Alf Padgham and Archie Compston. 5 ft 3 in Tomokichi Miyamoto, the only entry from the infant golfing nation of Japan, was also attracting attention. The ex-caddie had played in the Californian tournaments that spring and he sported the brilliant style of dress favoured by the Americans. He carried a small armoury of clubs, usually fourteen irons and six woods.

With Gene’s gallery following us in the first qualifying round I played like a novice and dropped five shots over the opening holes. After that my nerves settled and I managed a 78. Sarazen was a ‘shut face’ player and nearly all his shots had a slight draw. From tee to green he was immaculate but where, I thought, is the brilliant putting we had come to expect from the Americans. He holed very little in his round of 73. On the second day at Royal St George’s he was no longer finding the middle of the fairways as his draw had developed into a vicious hook, which regularly put him into either thick rough or sand. It was then that this short, but powerfully built, golfer really showed his class. In all the years that I have played the game, I have never seen such a brilliant display of pitching and putting and I was amazed at his powers of recovery from rough and bunkers. What I did not realize was that he used, for the first time in that Open, his ‘blaster’ - the sand wedge design he had conceived after studying the behaviour of aircraft when taking flying lessons from his friend, the eccentric playboy millionaire Howard Hughes. At that time finding a bunker was a real penalty and Gene was not noted for his sand play, but with this in his bag he had no trouble with the Sandwich bunkers and it helped him to get round in 76. In those days we were using a laid back ‘niblick’ in the sand; just getting out was a problem and getting ‘up and down’ was something of a rarity. Bernard Darwin regarded playing out of bunkers as a “trick shot” and said that it “took a real expert to escape from the sand – and a lucky one at that”. One who was an expert with the niblick was the four-time champion Walter Hagen, who could nip the ball cleanly and stop it in reasonable proximity to the pin. Gene’s new club, with a flange on the back, made it much easier to escape from all types of sand and he was concerned in case it fell foul of the championship committee. I never got a look at the club at close quarters because he put it head-first into his bag and kept his hand over the head until he came to play his shot. When off the course he hid the club from view. In that second qualifying round we matched each other shot-for-shot, with Gene’s revolutionary blaster coming to his rescue on several occasions, whereas my score was achieved in a more conventional fashion. Our scoring was not great, but good enough to qualify for the championship proper.
Michael ScottThere were many more amateurs playing in the Open in those days and one who was in the field was Mr. H. C. Longhurst (Bedfordshire), later to become famous as the writer and BBC commentator. Neither he nor Jack Mitchley was amongst the eighteen amateurs who qualified, but two who did were the interesting partners drawn by Gene and me. I played with Mr. W. L. Hope from the delightful St George’s Hill Club in Surrey, a Walker cup player and Scottish International who was born in Calcutta. He had finished close behind my brother George when he won the Surrey Open three years earlier. (George’s course record 68 at Royal Mid Surrey lasted until 1936.) Hope was one of the eight amateurs who made the cut and he was to be leading amateur that year, finishing in a tie for 16th place. That October he emigrated to Australia and won the Australian Amateur Championship the following year. Gene’s partner was a man described by Darwin as a ‘remarkable golfer’, the Hon. Michael Scott, a Walker Cup teammate of Hope’s and an English International, who was also a winner of the Australian Amateur Championship -four times. He won the French Amateur twice and was the winner of the first Australian Open Championship, which he also won twice. He was to win the British Amateur Championship at Royal Liverpool the following year at the age of 54 to become the oldest champion, a record that still stands. (In 1934, as Captain of Royal St George’s, he would present the Auld Claret Jug to Henry Cotton).

My brother Charles also qualified, only a shot behind Gene, but we both failed to make the cut whereas he had scored 70, 69 and was leading the field.