MY INTEREST IN GOLF HERITAGE
My introduction to golf heritage began when I served on various committees of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (‘The R&A’), some 20 years ago. At that time, the principal focus was the commissioning of a history of The R&A to mark its 250th anniversary in 2004. This resulted in three wonderful volumes being published: Challenges & Champions, Champions & Guardians and Traditions &Change. The principal authors of these books were Peter Lewis, who had been Director of the British Golf Museum since 1988, and John Behrend, a former Captain of Royal Liverpool Golf Club, whom I knew as a good friend of my father when he looked after the Rules of Golf Committee of The R&A. As a new boy on heritage matters, I had very little input into the approval of these iconic books but, from that moment on, I was hooked on learning more about the heritage of our great game.
I am fascinated by the stories that lie beneath the canvas of iconic golfing art. Wittingly or not, the artist inevitably captures in his or her work the social history of the time – which is social history of an era that I feel you can almost reach out and touch.
So far, I have researched two great paintings The First Meeting of North Berwick Golf Club, 1832 by Sir Francis Grant and The Golfers: A Grand Match Played over the Links of St Andrews on the Day of the Annual Meeting of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, 1847 by Charles Lees. The gentry depicted in these paintings, and their gentry links, help to tell the story of golf at two very significant dates in the evolution of the game: 1832 and 1847.