The Commonwealth Tournament

The Lucifer Golfing Society Commonwealth Tournament 1928 to date

The Society, formed by Walton Heath members in 1921, established its annual tournament in 1928 with the aim and aspiration of “welcoming and returning hospitality for golfers from the Commonwealth when visiting the United Kingdom”. It has now held 81 such events, the tournament having been suspended during the years 1940-48 during World War II and its aftermath.

Since the tournament’s inception we have been able to entertain some 7500 golfers from all parts of the Commonwealth. The primary event is the two-day Commonwealth Tournament at West Hill and Walton Heath GCs. In addition, there are two other regular meetings, respectively at The Berkshire GC, where the Lucifers take on the Australians, and at Woking GC where the Lucifers play against participants from the rest of the Commonwealth.  In addition, there are other informal meetings arranged at Rye, Royal Porthcawl, Hankley Common and Ashridge which have also become popular occasions. There is no shortage of golf for those keen to be involved!

 

The Lucifer Golfing Society Commonwealth Tournament 2018

 

In Summary:

  • This was the 83rd Commonwealth Tournament organised by the Lucifers, the event having its inauguration at Sunningdale in 1928
  •  In 2018 we had some 98 overseas players from Australia (57), Canada (15), Malaysia (9), South Africa and Bermuda (4 apiece), Kenya (3), Singapore (2), New Zealand (2) and each of Pakistan and Mauritius (1)
  • This year’s total of 128 playing at West Hill and Walton Heath was the  largest field we have ever organised
  • Culminating the event was our celebration dinner in the Lancaster Room at The Savoy Hotel which was attended by our Commonwealth visitors, many accompanied by their wives or partners, as well as Lucifer members mostly with their wives, some 246 being seated
  • The winner of the Lucifer Commonwealth Tournament was Paul Jackson from The Australian Golf Club with an aggregate 73 points scored over the 2-day event, with James Swinburne from The Royal Melbourne Golf Club with 72 points.
  •  Next year’s Tournament dates are 8th-9th July followed by the Savoy dinner on 10th July, 2019

 

The above is designed for busy executives (or possibly even habitual tweeters who use Social Media to communicate). If you have the time and want to know more about what happened this year and more of the underlying history of the event, there follows on the ensuing 5 pages a rather more excursive description of the event and a detailed look at what this Commonwealth Tournament is all about in the form of a Letter from the Lucifers.

 

Letter from the Lucifers :

Dear Commonwealth Contestant in 2018 and potential contestant in 2019,

The Lucifer Golfing Society, founded in 1921 (and we look forward to celebrating its Centenary with eager anticipation) would not be where it is today were it not for its Commonwealth Tournament.

It was in fact, Willie Todd, born in 1876, a founder member of the Society, serving on its Committee as Hon. Treasurer from its foundation to the start of World War II, whose brainchild was the Empire Tournament (as it was then called), the first being held at Sunningdale in 1928.

According to the Lucifer Hon. Archivist, Brian Evens, Todd’s crowning achievement was the notion of gathering together of golfers from the Empire overseas who came home on leave. In Todd’s own words: “I thought of the idea in my bath one morning”.

In 1952 “Commonwealth” was added to the Tournament’s title and in 1965 the word “Empire” was dropped. As a result of a communication from the then Secretary of Royal Calcutta GC in 1957, who pointed out that Indian members could not play in the Tournament as they were no longer “British Subjects” the Tournament widened its scope so as to “welcome and return hospitality for golfers from the Commonwealth when visiting the United Kingdom”. This is particularly relevant today as a number of Society members go on tour to Commonwealth countries virtually every year.

In late 2016 we visited Bermuda, for example, and last year saw visits to Singapore and Malaysia and this Autumn there was an extended trip to Eastern Canada. There will be a short tour to Toronto next year and in 2021, we will be visiting Australia again.

The historical perspective relevant to the transition from Empire to Commonwealth status caused the Hon. Scribe’s mind to focus on the essential ties which have contributed to the bonding together of the Commonwealth and its members. Obviously, the English language, being one of the world’s most widely utilised tongues, has played a major part in the maintenance of the Commonwealth ethos. Equally, so has the respect for the rule of law and the adoption and implementation of parliamentary democracy which has been widely followed by Commonwealth nations in their historic moves to self-government. Another factor, in the context of sport (which after all is what the Tournament is all about) is the British attitude to “fair play”. This approach is widely exemplified in sports the UK has been (wholly or largely) responsible for having invented. These include rugby, squash, racquets, real tennis, cricket and of course, golf. This attitude to fair play is no better illustrated than in the noble game of golf. Most would agree that this is the very ethos our Tournament now engenders.

The culmination of the Commonwealth Tournament, which spans two consecutive days at West Hill GC and Walton Heath GC respectively, is a formal dinner for all participants, their spouses or partners. The total number sitting down to dinner this year was 246, the occasion being presided over by the Lucifer President, Air Marshal Sir Ian McFadyen K.C.V.O, C.B, O.B.E.

After a toast to Her Majesty, the Queen, and to our Patron, The Duke of York K.G, a toast to The Lucifer Golfing Society itself was proposed by Ken Schofield , Executive Director of the European Tour from 1975 to 2004 and now President of West Hill GC .This was responded to by Lucifer Captain, Charlie Jamieson, who proposed the toast to the overseas golfers present and their guests, with a response on behalf of the guests by Wah McLean from New Zealand.

The fine food and fare having been consumed, the presentation of the prizes (of which more anon), was conducted by Hon. Commonwealth Scribe, Mark Dumas. We were then regaled with a high quality, virtuoso performance of opera and light music renditions by South African baritone, Njabulo Madlala and our assembled company finished with a rousing refrain and chorus from “Land of Hope and Glory”, sung in splendid unison.

The Captain, Charlie Jamieson, in his speech describing the Commonwealth Tournament as the Lucifers’ primary raison d’être, cited the multiplicity of friendships made between Tournament participants, many of whom return year after year. He made special mention, in this context, to Duncan Ndegwa, from Kenya and there present, having played in the Lucifer Tournament for an almost unbroken period of 30 years. He complimented the Commonwealth Countries represented at the dinner, for providing a brilliant turnout this year of just shy of 100 golfers from 11 countries, the largest contingents (as always) coming from Australia and Canada. He singled out the impressive tally of 9 players who came from Malaysia with two from Singapore “following our successful tour there in March 2017”and the presence of Sabahat Husain from Pakistan, a most welcome participant from that country after a few fallow years. On a competitor to population ratio Bermuda with its tally of 4 participating players had to be the outright winner!

The Captain then went on to refer to the peripheral games and meetings which helped to typify the Lucifer Commonwealth Tournament: ”as a veritable Festival of golf”. These comprised two formal events organised by the Hon. Commonwealth Scribe, Mark Dumas, namely:

  1. A round at The Berkshire for the Australian golfers. A record number of 57 had applied for this fixture . In the end 68 of us, inclusive of Lucifers, played on the Blue Course. This resulted in an Australian victory, albeit that, owing to their considerable numbers of players, some were playing against their own nation!
  2. A round at Woking. This comprised some 48 playing for the Commonwealth (excluding Australia) with additional players representing the Lucifers. This match resulted in a draw.

In addition there were several informally organised events such as days at Royal St. George’s GC (a regular Open golf venue) in consecutive weeks respectively organised by Bertie Shotton for a group of Canadians, by Chris Bonsall and Graham Lark for a group of Australians from Royal Melbourne and Ian Mavor (former Commonwealth Scribe and Lucifer Past Captain) and Nigel Turner (the organiser of last year’s most enjoyable tour to Malaysia) for a small Malaysian group; a day at Royal Cinque Ports (Deal) organised for the same Malaysian group; a round (or two) at Rye organised by David Pettman for several Australian players; a round at New Zealand GC hosted by Derek Scott for several Canadians, a New Zealander (doubtless with reciprocal rights) and a Pakistani; a round with a group of Canadians at Ashridge GC organised by Paul Orchard-Lisle; and match organised at Worplesdon GC by Hon. Overseas Scribe, Nicholas Hayes, between Stuart Cox’s Australians and Ted Clarke’s (particularly ubiquitous and indefatigable) Canadians .

One can only admire (and perhaps, envy) the stamina, spirit and tenacity of our overseas visitors, participating in all these fixtures when they have largely come from far distant shores and climes to play in the 2-day Tournament on 9th and 10th July on two Surrey courses, to reach each of which it is difficult to avoid travelling along what some occasionally describe a “the busiest car park in Europe”, the M25!.

In addition to the numerous fixtures ranged round the Tournament, we broke with tradition this year and organised two official outings for wives and partners of the tournament players. These were extremely enjoyable and popular and we intend offering something similar in 2019.

The first was a game of golf at New Zealand GC arranged by Andi Scott (wife of Derek) which was attended by13 guests plus 7 Lucifer Sparklers (as they are affectionately designated) of whom one played in each team. The three winning players (on the basis of the better two balls), carding an aggregate of 77 stableford points, were Judy Kennedy (Australia), Gilly Wyman(South Africa) and Jenny Newton winning on countback against the same score achieved by Helen Gillom (Australia), Eleanor Stevens (Kenya) and Vicky Costain. Sue Jamieson, the Lucifer Captain’s wife, also supported the day.

The other event, organised by Nicola Dumas, Sally Davis and Rebecca Richards took the form of a London tour involving a walk down the Thames and crossing via the Millennium Bridge for a guided tour round St. Paul’s Cathedral, culminating in a visit to and lunch at the National Portrait Gallery just off Trafalgar Square. There the group were treated to an unexpected and awe-inspiring spectacle of a 100 plane flypast in celebration of the founding of the RAF a century earlier. Those of the golfers at Walton Heath who were lucky enough to be there at the time were likewise able to witness the highlight of that flypast , the sole surviving air-worthy Lancaster bomber being escorted by Spitfires and Hurricanes, the heroic fighters of the Battle of Britain. It was a most moving experience even for many of us golfers pre-occupied with achieving not too discreditable a score!

For the 128 golfers, a record number for the Lucifer Commonwealth Tournament , the conditions were, to say the least, unusual for what most would recognise as a normal British climate. Very few of us had seen rain for some 5 weeks and except on the greens themselves and their approaches the fairways were almost uniformly straw-coloured or brown. A ball well-struck down the middle of a fairway often resulted, we discovered to our consternation, in its angling its way into the rough, frequently into patches of dense heather. As John Spry, a New Zealand contestant was heard to utter: “ I will think twice about ever having an affair with Heather again!” Club selection does become rather tricky when turf has become rock-hard and the ball runs amok way beyond one’s normal experience. Finding lost balls was a continual exercise and there were a number of episodes when insufficient care was taken to avoid playing what turned out to be a ball which had been lost by someone not in the playing group. We also had to wrack our brains to determine whether a lateral water hazard which had dried up, continued to be in that category and whether if one chose to play out of it, without taking a drop or a penalty, one was (or was not) permitted to ground one’s club on address. What rarefied things we golfers need to know!

Despite all the tribulations we suffered on these long rounds, to judge from your feedback on your experiences of the Commonwealth Tournament you seem to have had a great time. We can assure you that the hosts did too and count it as a privilege to accompany you, experiencing the cameraderie and badinage which inevitably has to come to the fore as some of the situations one encounters are too funny to respond to with a straight face.

 

The results of the 2018 Lucifer Commonwealth Tournament were as follows:

  • The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at West Hill GC was returned by Pierre Kriegler from The Commonwealth and Sorrento Golf Clubs, Australia with a score of 40 points.
  • The winning score by a Commonwealth or a Lucifer aged over 75 at West Hill , and competing in the Douglas Bader Lucifer competition was a Lucifer, Michael Wauchope, with 33 points.
  • The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at Walton Heath was Ian Macaskill of The Australian Golf Club, winning on a countback, with 40 points.
  • The winning score by a Commonwealth or a Lucifer aged over 75 at Walton Heath and competing in the Douglas Bader Lucifer competition was Lucifer, William Carr, with 36 points.
  • The winner of the Douglas Bader Lucifer (a replica of the trophy won at the Lucifer Autumn meeting in 1956 by the celebrated wartime pilot ace and former Lucifer member, Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader) being the best combined score by either a Commonwealth player or a Lucifer aged over 75, was Michael Whalley of the Australian Golf Club with 69 points.
  • The best Lucifer at West Hill Golf Club and winner of the Webb Cup was Jeff Turner with 40 points.
  • The best Lucifer at Walton Heath Golf Club and winner of the Victoria Cup was Seymour Banks with 36 points.

 

On a countback, and just beating Larry Gan of the Saujana Golf & Country Club, Malaysia, and the runner up for the Tournament, was James Swinburne from The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, with 72 points.

This year’s outright winner of the 2018 Commonwealth Tournament from The Australian Golf Club was Paul Jackson with 73 points. Paul won this cup in 2010 and this year scored 29 points at West Hill and 44 points at Walton Heath demonstrating remarkable resilience and patience in compiling the winning score when after day 1 he was down in 38th place in the field.

Our Captain, in his speech at the Savoy, paid tribute to the organisational skills of the Hon. Commonwealth Scribe, Mark Dumas in putting together such a happy and successful Tournament. Those of us who have organised a single golf day will know how much work is entailed and how easy it is overlook key points. Mark’s monumental work organising the Tournament and superb dinner at the Savoy, is greatly admired and appreciated by us all and he and we much look forward to seeing you again and some new participants at next year’s 84th annual Tournament.

 

Venue’s for the 2019 Commonwealth Tournament:

Day One – 08/07/2019 – West Hill Golf Club  – Commonwealth Tournament

Day Two – 09/07/2019 – Walton Heath Golf Club  – Commonwealth Tournament

Day Three – 10/07/2019 – Savoy – Commonwealth Dinner at World-class Venue Savoy London