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Two Special Events

Golfing trophies and some replicas, 1959

Tomorrow sees the start, in France, of the Ryder Cup, and as it says in today’s Daily Telegraph (and I quote the golfer, Colin Montgomerie) “There is nothing like the Ryder Cup. Not in golf. Not in all of sport.  They say imitation is the best [sic] form of flattery and if that is true then the Ryder Cup can be very proud because so many other sports have tried to copy it.  But they have all failed even to approach the passion and interest produced by this match. Europe does not come together like this in any other context.  It is the only competition that pits one side of the Atlantic against the other.

“When Jack Nicklaus suggested it in the Seventies that the Great Britain and Ireland team be expanded to take in the whole continent just so America could be given a proper match, he could not have imagined what it would become.”

Now, if you’re not a golfer, this might seem over the top praise for this contest between the USA and Europe, but believe me, even if you think golf is a good walk spoiled, the passion for the game by these two teams is second to none.  It is only held once every two years, and alternately in America and Europe, so it only comes to Europe once in every four years and not always to the UK – this year it is being held in France.

And so, if you have the opportunity to watch, then please do watch this contest which is being held over three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  You don’t even have to know the finer points of the game to appreciate the skill of the players, although I’m sure some of the commentators will mention various points and the scoring procedures as there are various methods of scoring, whether fourballs, foursomes, or singles.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say this – to praise the game – as I come from a family of golfers.  Well, up to a point.  My father and my uncle played and so fed up was my mother of being a ‘golf widow’ that she decided to have lessons herself.

My mother, ‘addressing’ the ball on Torquay Golf Course, 1959

She turned out to be a natural at the game, outshining both my father and my uncle and many more at her golf club!  In her first two years of playing she won not one but five trophies, at least one of them open to men and women and the most prestigious of all at her club at that time (1959), the Jubilee Cup, which had that year 96 entrants. (And I still have six silver spoons that she won in the women’s monthly medal competitions, one spoon for each competition won.)

My mother being presented with the Jubilee Cup at Torquay Golf Club in 1959, by the Mayor and Mayoress of Torquay

The lead photo for this post shows her trophies and some of the small replicas she was given (not all trophies had replicas.)  My father, bless him, only ever won one such trophy, but they were both good golfers.

I haven’t dug out any photos of my father and uncle playing – I have some somewhere – but I have just a few of my mother which I’m showing here.  She and my father loved to play a few holes of a summer’s evening after they’d closed our shop, and also on a Sunday afternoons.  I would sometimes caddie for my mother, dragging her little trolley after me, up and down the hills of the course.  One day, after such a game with her friend, Cynthia (who is called Cynthia these days? It’s a name that seems to have gone totally out of fashion) my father, who had been taking our Corgi dog for a walk, joined us at the club and took a photo of the three of us, myself, Mum and Cynthia, with our dog in front of us.  (Can you see my little Kodak Brownie 127 camera next to me? I’ve always taken photos, even in those days.  But not long after this photo was taken I received my first 35mm camera for my 15th birthday).

Yes, that is me.  Brown hair then!  I’m wearing golf shoes, too, as I had lessons and, of course, used them (the shoes, not the lessons!) to walk around the course even if I wasn’t playing. I was reasonably good but quite frankly, when you’re 14 you much prefer something a little faster than golf!  Tennis was my game in those days.

I’m also wearing what was a favourite jumper, in white and navy blue, the navy blue bands having flat bows on the front, not too ornamental to be considered ditsy. I didn’t do ditsy even then!  The skirt belonged to a ‘costume’ (which is what women called suits in those days) which had a little jacket, again which I loved.

Mum, who was mainly an ‘irons’ player (for those who don’t know about golf, there are two kinds of clubs, woods and irons, and Mum always preferred her irons and seldom, if ever, used woods off the fairway.)  Here she is getting out of the ‘rough’, the longer grass beside the fairway.  Head down, girl!  (Mum was about 47 when these photos were taken.)

It was a very happy time for me, and my parents had lots of friends at the club who I thus knew and mixed with, especially the professional golfer at the club – who had taught my mother and me to play – and his wife, who became firm friends and even attended my wedding.

The club house has now changed quite a lot I think, from what our son – now a member and a player – says, but in ‘my’ day I loved to have afternoon tea on the veranda, sitting in Lloyd Loom chairs and eating anchovy toast and Mrs Jones’s chocolate cake (Mrs Jones was the wife of the Steward.)  And truly, there was nothing quite like the scent of the grass as the mowing machines were busy, cutting it in summer.  The scent of cut grass takes me instantly back to those days.

And so, I shall be watching the Ryder Cup tomorrow, cheering on the Great Britain, Ireland and Europe team.  And to you in America, if your players play well – as indeed I am sure they will – I will cheer for them, too!

I headed this post “Two Special Events” and the other, the first being The Ryder Cup, is that this is my 450th post.  How can I have written so much in such a short time?  Yappy, that’s me!

And finally … the weather is glorious right now.  There was a brilliant sunrise this morning and so I took some photos, to try and capture it as it burst forth into our sitting room.


Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Having met your Mum it was lovely to hear more about her and see the photos. And you too, I’d know idea about the golfing era in your family, nice to think one of your sons will be carrying on the tradition. Thanks for an interesting read Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling

      I had quite forgotten you had met my Mum, Heather, and of course your husband met my Uncle (my mother’s bachelor brother), too. Yes, she was quite a sporty person and she absolutely loved playing golf and, in later life, when the Open was on (the British Open Golf Championship which takes place in July each year) she was glued to her TV set. It so happened that her birthday, 20th July, often fell when the Open was on and we, unknowingly, would arrange an outing for her as a treat and she always went along, but I now realize that she would have much preferred to have been at home watching the golf on TV! Yes, it’s lovely that her older grandson plays golf and enjoys it as much as she did.

  2. For know read no!

  3. I mustn’t hog the replies but that was very much the era when we tended to look like our mothers, had our hair cut and set at the same hairdressers etc. I can remember deciding to break free from this and went for the long hair and fringed bohemian style which later became the so called Cleopatra/Juliet Greco look. Not that it got me anywhere but the sixties came along and everything changed so much. Your Mum was a great champion of your writing Margaret and I hope you enjoy watching the golf.

    • Margaret Powling

      All replies are welcome, Heather, you are not hogging the comments at all.
      Oh, I loved the Juliet Greco look, but it wasn’t one I adopted. As I think I’ve said, I looked at one stage very much like Juliet Prowse (the actress – although I suppose today we’d refer to her as an actor) in GI Blues, starring with Elvis (for me there is only one Elvis and I don’t mean Elvis Costello!) And yes, Mum was a great champion of my writing, she was so proud when I was published in various magazines, and I shall certainly enjoy watching the golf (even if the USA win!)

  4. I’ll have to agree to disagree over golf – it’s the one sport I can’t watch on the television!! Perhaps because I’ve never played it and can’t see the fascination. You all look most elegant in the photographs though. Wimbledon, on the other hand………..! My children know that when Wimbledon is on the television is mine and no one takes the remote control from me!!!!. I have to admit though, that, when the Olympics are on, it’s surprising what I watch. Who on earth knew about taekwondo (?) and various other sports but during London 2012 I became a veritable expert!! Not to mention all the cycling!

    • Margaret Powling

      It is fascinating, believe me, Fiona. The trouble is, I think, as with all sports and anything which is actually difficult, the professionals, those at the very top of their game (no pun intended) make it look all too easy. It is far from easy and I find it fascinating to watch. And while I played tennis and squash when younger, I find tennis quite boring to watch. Apart from different surfaces and perhaps wind direction, the courts are the same, whereas with golf, all the courses are different. Think of the wonderful park like course at Augusta, Georgia, where the American Masters is held, and then the links course where the Open was played here at Carnoustie in Scotland, it couldn’t be more different, and players have to adjust their game to that, and to all weather conditions, whether drought which makes the balls on the greens run and run, or high wind, where the balls can vere off course even when hit correctly, or in mist and rain, which is awful to play in. Seldom does rain stop play in golf, only in thunder and lightning. Not so cricket and tennis where even bad light can stop play. I think the most boring of all is watching swimming! Up and down lengths of a pool, yawn, yawn. Try the golf Fiona, bear in mind how players have to work out the distance from the ball to the pin (the hole), and which club to use, and so forth. So much depends on a good shot, even changing your grip on the club itself, and basics, such as keeping your head down as you swing the club. I rest my case!

  5. When I went to live with my golfer grandparents, I soon discovered that there was nothing quite so exciting as birdies and bogies. I was never told what they were, but I did wonder….. I swear that we only got tv so that they could watch golf, and exclaim passionately about golfing things. Grandad always wore plus fours and a proper golfing hat. Everywhere. ps love that white with navy trim, jumper!

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, birdies and bogies and even eagles! The language of golf, Ratnamurti! How wounderful that your Granddad word plus fours and a golfing hat! When my mother started playing, women didn’t tend to wear trousers in the 1950s and so she went to a local tailor and had a couple of skirts made that were suitable for golf but she’s not wearing either of those in the photographs, but a Jaeger skirt which was one she particularly liked. The red top was in a lovely cotton pique, and she had it in various colours (they also came from Jaeger) … she had it in navy, red (as in the photos), pale turquoise and in lemon yellow. The edges were always white and they were lovely for golf, and better than what today we’d called a polo shirt.

  6. I love the photos of you all in 1959, especially the group shot with your pet corgi. As I’ve mentioned previously, my husband’s elderly parents have a corgi (with the most gorgeous tail) and we babysit him one or two nights each week. He is very spoilt or loved, depending on your views ha ha. I tried golf a few times in my twenties and whilst I could hit the ball far enough, my putting was poor and so I found it ‘too slow’. I once played with a group of friends on a course in a rural area whilst on holidays and we had to shoo kangaroos out of the way. Quite funny. Fortunately they were only relatively small and any males were young as the large males are huge and can be aggressive if they feel threatened. They’re not cuddly and docile like they appear on the tv !

    Congratulations on your 450th post. A wonderful achievement. One of our free-to-air channels is showing ‘As Time Goes By’ in the evenings for he umpteenth time. I’ve seen them all many times but love it nonetheless. When you included your photograph the other day showing us your recent foils, cut and blow dry I was reminded of Judi Dench. You are both very stylish and whilst I would hardly pretend to know Dame Judi, she also seems to have a cheeky sense of humour with a quick wit like you. Congratulations again xxx

    ps Sarah’s name and email address appears below. No problem, I will simply overwrite with my details but wanted to let you know. No doubt those people who ‘fixed’ those computer bugs for you have already spent the money you paid them !

    • Margaret Powling

      Your family Corgi might either be a Cardiganshire Corgi (they have long, feathery tails) or it’s a Pembrokeshire Corgi without it’s tail docked. I’ve not seen a Corgi for ages now, but I think tail docking has been made illegal (and rightly so). Our Corgi had had its tail docked, it was just a little stumpy thing. This was usual in those days, especially when a long tail on a short-legged dog would hit the ground. But they are very intelligent dogs and, as I expect you know, were originally bred as cattle dogs, to round up cattle, like sheep dogs round up sheep today. Oh, my goodness, shooing kangaroos out of the way. That’s a bit more than our seagulls which sometimes used to sun themselves on the fairways!
      It’s a very long time since I saw As Time Goes By, but it was a lovely, gentle programme. But I have to say that my highlights weren’t done with foils, nothing as simple as that, sadly. No with such short hair I have to have cap highlights, i.e. a plastic cap pulled tightly over my head and the strands of hair pulled through with what looks like a crochet hook. It’s not pleasant, but not exactly painful either. Then the bleach put on top and then heated up with one of those revolving heaters that hairdressers have, like a huge dish, and then that is washed off and a toner applied, then that is washed off, then the hair is shampooed and conditioned. It seems to take an age and by then you are very glad to have the cap removed! Then my hair is cut and blow dried. It takes around 2 hours for all this.
      Oh dear, more names and addresses in the data box … yes, please remove, thanks. I’ve been told by the people who have fixed my problems that they can’t see these names appearing, either.
      Thank you for your congratulations on my 450th post. I really don’t know how I’ve clocked up so many, but I have!
      Glad you like the photos I posted on the Golf post!

      • Ours is a Pembroke Corgi with lovely tan and white fur. His tail has a white end to it. Docking tails is now illegal here, too. Corgis are deceivingly quick and when you see one in action you appreciate how good they would be to round up livestock. When he was a puppy he would go for your socks, right at the back of your leg. One of my young nephews was leaving his grandparents’ home one morning and instead of going through the gate decided he would vault over the fence which is about thigh-high. Unbeknown to him the dog (less than one year old at this stage) was following him and leapt up after him, thinking it was a game. Fortunately my nephew wasn’t hurt, only startled ! He has been sent to the dog groomers for very severe haircuts the past two summers due to ‘hotspots’ (sores which dogs can develop due to the heat) and to make it easier to search for ticks. The groomer leaves his head and tail, making him look somewhat like a lion !

        • Margaret Powling

          Sherry, our Corgi, was a Pembroke Corgi, too. It’s good that docking of tails is now illegal. Our Corgi looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but she never lost her instinct to go for ankles and when I was about to go to school, my mother used to put her collar and lead on and hold her tightly because otherwise she’d try to nip at my heels as she wanted to go out, too! Yes, the story of your nephew is exactly like how Corgis behave! Oh, I’d love to see a lion cut on a Corgi, ha ha! I’ll bet he either thinks he’s the cat’s pyjamas looking like that or he’s the laughing stock of the neighbourhood!

  7. Dear Margaret
    Thank you for sharing these memories and pictures from your youth. Those trophies take me back. My father played bowls for his county and it was such a different time with the prize givings, club dynamics and clothing. Were we just more grateful for leisure time then? Am I seeing it through rose tinted glasses?
    I hope you don’t mind me commenting here on your Brixham post. Like you we rarely go away. We are lucky to live in a beautiful place (Cheltenham) and enjoy local activities, amenities and events. We do however visit Devon regularly and stay in Kingswear. We always visit Rockfish during our trips and yes, isn’t it good?
    Thank you as always for your lovely blog.
    Best wishes

    • Margaret Powling

      No, I don’t think you are looking through rose-tinted glasses, Jill. I found the 1950s/1960s a very happy time, overall, a time before colour TV and all the technology we have today. Yes, many things have made life easier (automatic washing machines, for example) but life was much simpler then, it really was. Leisure was playing tennis or golf or just going for walks or to the ‘pictures’ I often wonder whether young people now actually go for walks? No, they put on lycra and run instead, ears filled with plugs through which they must get all kinds of music from some gadget or gizmo. Do they look at the trees and flowers? Perhaps not. Do they enjoy being in the fresh air or just how far they can run in the shortest possible time?
      I really must make more of an effort to visit Cheltenham, a spa town I’ve always wanted to visit. I have written (when I was writing professionally, I mean) about the spa towns of Britain, for there are quite a number of them, and I thought the photos of Cheltenham looked lovely. Yes, Rockfish is good. It isn’t the first fish restaurant to be in that building, which isn’t that old. The first one closed down and Rockfish opened just a year or so ago, but hopefully that will do better and keep going even during the long winter months when there are no tourists to boost trade.
      Thank you for your good wishes and I’m so glad you enjoy reading my blog.

  8. Both my brothers loved golf but I’m afraid it passed me by. What lovely memories you have though.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Joy, I have such happy memories of time spent at the golf club. Not only that, walks along Babbacombe Downs with our dog, and visits to the little cinema in our village (which was converted in the 1980s into a museum) and oh, when I was very young, taking the Babbacombe Cliff Railway up from the beach – we weren’t that lazy we took the railway down, we walked down the steep path to the beach, but coming up was a different matter!

  9. You are so like your mum was, Margaret. It’s especially evident in the photograph where she is receiving the trophy. I have zero interest in golf but a friend is a very keen player and has recently been asked to be Lady Captain of her club. Cynthia – I know no-one called this but I think my mother did. There are so many names we never hear today – like everything else they drift in and out of fashion. Words too – my mum also called suits ‘costumes’.
    I remember cap highlights (always used in the days before foils became popular). Boy, did they hurt!
    Cheltenham is well worth a visit.

    450 posts – Wow!….and very one a winner!

    • Margaret Powling

      My goodness, I’ve not thought of myself as looking like my mother when she was younger, but I do feel I look like her more now, Eloise. That is quite an honour for your friend to be invited to be Lady Captain. I hope she accepts and has a good year for her captaincy.
      Yes, names … they come in and then go out of fashion and then return (well, some of them do.) My mother’s generation (she was born 1912) were often called Doris, Edna, Phyllis, Kathleen, Dorothy and Joan (and Martha was a popular name in my grandmother’s generation, not heard for many a long year!) and my generation were Jean, Joan, Maureen, Patricia, Sheila, Sylvia, Valerie, Rosemary, Sandra, Christine, Penelope, Wendy (which was a made-up name by J M Barrie for the girl in Peter Pan) and even my own name of Margaret. You seldom hear of anyone under my age being called Margaret today. I wonder when it will return to fashion?
      Yes, 450 posts but perhaps not quite every one a winner, ha ha! But kind of you to say so!
      Oh yes, ‘costumes’ … I wonder if there are other items of clothing named differently today? I know that my mother used to call a full length petticoat a “princess slip”, although I’ve no idea why.

  10. My mother called trousers ‘trews’ (but only girls’ trousers) and canvas play shoes were ‘daps’. Petticoats were petticoats or slips and dresses were frocks.
    Girls my age were Susan, Pamela, Lorraine, Linda, Angela and Karen.

    • Margaret Powling

      My mother called trousers “slacks” (when they were for women.) I can remember in the early 1960s a shop in Plymouth being called The Skirt and Slack Shack. Truly! Oh, yes, daps. I think that was a Midlands word for them, we called them pumps in the north of England. And this was said in the Two Ronnies Sketch you may recall, the Four Candles (Fork Handles) sketch, when Ronnie Barker asked for pumps and little Ronnie Corbett showed him a foot pump, and he said, “No, pumps, size 9.” I never called a dress a frock, but I know “frock” was what a lot of people called them.
      I don’t think there were any Lorraine’s at school, but there were definitely Susans, Pamelas and Angelas. I think Karen came a bit later, too.

  11. Margaret, I love the picture of you in your “bow sweater”. You are quite ladylike – something not seen too much in young women these days. I know that your husband was an engineer but what did you do for work, Margaret? Were you a full time freelance writer of did you have another profession? I like your writing style very much.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Donna, and thank you for the compliment that I look quite ladylike. I was always taught to sit and stand correctly, and at school (a girls’ grammar school) there were even posture girdles (this wasn’t what people would’ve called a ‘foundation’ garment, but a sash or sorts we wore around our waists) awarded for those who walked well. I was never awarded one and that really upset me as I thought I walked correctly! As to my work, well, in the early 1960s when one attended a grammar school we had mainly three options: university, teacher training college or nursing. But by the time I left school I had met my husband-to-be and didn’t wish to do a lengthy training for anything and so took shorthand and typing lessons and worked as a secretary in the civil service. I did this until I had our first child and then, like women in those days, I became a stay-at-home mum. After that I did some part-time work, once in the local information bureau in our seaside town (I enjoyed that as I had the opportunity of meeting lots of people) and then I was a secretary in a teachers’ centre, where we mounted courses for teachers (INSET.) I was there for 16 years and when I gave up that job I decided to try my hand at writing and that’s when I began writing for magazines, so yes, I was a freelance, you’ve guessed correctly, Donna. I started writing just as husband was considering retirement, and we were then able to go on various writing assignments together, which was great fun. He was my bag man, I could say, and chauffeur! I was amused once when a neighbour, upon seeing me regularly sitting typing in our study, once asked me if I worked for my husband! I soon put her right, as you can imagine!

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