The Commonwealth Tournament Report

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 84 such events, the tournament having been suspended during the years 1940-48 during World War II and its aftermath and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the tournament’s inception we have been able to entertain some 7700 golfers from all parts of the Commonwealth. The primary event is the two-day Commonwealth Tournament usually held 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, mainly the Canadians.  In addition, there are other informal gatherings arranged at Rye, Royal St George’s, Royal Cinque Ports and the like, which have also become popular occasions. There is no shortage of golf for those keen to be involved!

 

The Lucifer Golfing Society Commonwealth Tournament-2022

In Summary:

  • This was the 84rd Annual Commonwealth Tournament organised by the Lucifers, the event having its inauguration in 1928 at Sunningdale, no tournaments having been held during the war years and their aftermath, 1940-1948 and during Covid-19, 2020 – 2021.
  • This year we had 153 overseas players from Australia (71), Canada (45 ), South Africa (12),  Malaysia ( 9) , New Zealand (6 ), Kenya (5), Bermuda (2) and one each from Singapore, Hong Kong and Jersey playing at West Hill and Sunningdale.
  • The opening reception to celebrate the Centenary of the Society was help at Windsor Castle by the kind permission of our new Patron, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. This was attended by our Commonwealth visitors, many accompanied by wives or partners as well as Lucifer members accompanied by their wives comprising some 290 people.
  • The concluding official event was the celebratory black tie dinner in the Lancaster Room at The Savoy Hotel which was attended by our Commonwealth visitors, many accompanied by wives or partners, as well as Lucifer members mostly accompanied by their wives, and comprising some 310 people.
  • The winner of the Douglas Bader Trophy, being this year for the best combined score at the two courses by a Commonwealth golfer aged over 75, was Chris Davidson of Peninsular Kingswood Country GC in Victoria, Australia with 74 points.
  • The winner of the Lucifer Commonwealth Tournament was Martin Walter of Royal Melbourne GC, with an aggregate score of 73 points, the runner–up being Dan Rogers from Emerald Hills GC in Ontario, Canada with 72 points  with Paul Coronel from Royal Melbourne GC, in third place on countback.
  • Next year’s Tournament dates are Monday 3rd  and Tuesday 4th  July  at West Hill and Coombe Hill G Cs followed by The Savoy Dinner on Wednesday 5th July 2023.

 

The above is designed for those with limited time to read longer reports . There follows a Letter from the Commonwealth Scribe outlining in more detail some history of the event and a fuller description of some of the highlights of this year’s tournament and other organised games, matches and events.

 

Letter from the Hon Commonwealth Scribe  August,  2022

Dear Commonwealth Participant in 2022 and/or potential Participant in 2023,

Writing in 1942, probably one of the bleakest times for Britain in WW2, then Lucifer historian and celebrated golf writer, Bernard Darwin, published his brief history of the Society. Darwin, who had been Captain of the R&A in 1934, opened his history thus:

“ The Lucifer Golfing Society was founded in 1921, so it comes of age this year. This is no time for celebrations; some of its activities have of necessity become dormant in wartime, but its spirit is still very much alive…It is in some way an unique record which has assured the Society its niche not only in golfing history, but in the history of the Empire. The Society has become, in the late Lord Reading’s words, ‘an important link in the great chain of Empire brotherhood and understanding’ and this is a chain which is more vital and more enduring than ever before.”

The chief part of the Lucifer story is concerned with the annual golf competition for our kinsmen from overseas and of the annual dinner that has followed it”….

Darwin went on to say:

“Many of the members had travelled in different parts of the Empire and been struck by two things: the endless hospitality and friendliness with which those of the Mother country were always received in the golf clubs overseas, and the extreme difficulty of repaying such kindness adequately or at all. Could not some collective effort be made to welcome these kind hosts from all the different parts of the Empire when they come home on leave and to give that word “home” the warmest and most friendly significance?  This was clearly a notion amongst notions and it was at once accepted and acted on.  A letter was sent to some of the leading clubs in the Empire overseas saying that the Society would be glad to welcome any resident British subjects, members of those clubs, when they came home, at a golf meeting and a dinner.”

These sentiments continue to have the same relevance today, more than three-quarters of a century on, the only difference being that from 1965 all references to “Empire” were replaced with “Commonwealth”, including both continuing and former member countries. Moreover, the invitation has widened to all golfing members within the Commonwealth (as so defined) by way of thanks for their hospitality to Lucifer members on tour in their countries, which is now happening in one part or other of the Commonwealth at least every other year.

In July 2022 we enjoyed unfailing good weather for the whole Tournament and surrounding events. The official events of the Tournament, now in its 84th  year, were:

Thursday 30th June – By kind permission of our new Patron, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and greatly facilitated by our President, Air Marshal Sir Ian Macfadyen, our overseas guests and their wives or partners together with a number of Lucifer members and their wives, were able to attend a magnificent reception in the Waterloo and Grand Reception rooms at Windsor Castle. Around 290 were in attendance to celebrate the Centenary of the Society. The President spoke of the history of the Castle and of his time as a previous Governor and Constable. Our new Patron then gave a gracious speech of welcome before mingling with the guests. This was a unique and truly memorable occasion for us all.

Friday 1st July – The Lucifers took on the Australians in the traditional opening fixture of Tournament Week at The Berkshire (Red course) involving 76 players. It was a fun day and we were indebted to The Berkshire for hosting so many both on the course and also for an excellent lunch thereafter. In a closely fought match the Australians prevailed by one point to retain the Sydney Bridge Trophy. As the Society’s Captain said: ‘This was not a match that could really be lost by the Australians as each foursomes contained a maximum of only one Lucifer!’

Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th July – Given the unprecedented demand caused by the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 Tournaments due to Covid-19 and this year being the Society’s Centenary, it was decided sadly that in order to allow as many overseas competitors as possible, no Lucifer would play in the Tournament itself. This enabled us to have a maximum of 160 players and indeed there were over 200 entries after an agreed allowances system for the  countries was worked out by the Captain, Commonwealth Scribe and the relevant Overseas Lucifers. Anyone who missed out was put onto a waiting list and a priority list for next year. With injuries, illnesses and the continuing prevalence of Covid-19, 153 overseas competitors were due to play in the Tournament but ultimately only 150 participated.

The largest contingents were the Australians with 71 and the Canadians with 45. In perfect golfing weather and with copious amounts of heather all competitors were very well looked after at West Hill and Sunningdale both on the course and in the dining room. West Hill was as true and fair as ever and all who played on the Old Course at Sunningdale considered themselves truly blessed and vowed to return, especially if the Society is able to procure this venue on other occasions, though understandably, because of its popularity with Societies and cost, not every year.

Of the 150 competitors a number opted to play in the main Tournament despite being over 75 and 24 therefore contested the Douglas Bader Trophy. The results are reported elsewhere in this report.

Thursday 7th July – In view of the large number of Canadians anticipated this year it was decided earlier that it would be appropriated for the Lucifers to have an additional match against the Rest of the Commonwealth, thus enabling all those Canadians who wished to play against the Lucifers to get a game. 36 Lucifers and players from the Rest of the Commonwealth therefore assembled for lunch at Walton Heath, the day after the Commonwealth Dinner, and an informal match took place thereafter with fittingly the match being tied. We are indebted to the South African golfers who turned out en mass to mark this occasion. There were also representatives from Malaysia, New Zealand, Bermuda and Jersey.

Friday 8th July – The final event of Tournament Week is usually the match between the Lucifers and the Rest of the Commonwealth at Woking. As explained above, due to numbers, this match was due to involve the Canadians only. However, due to some unexpected last minute problems, golfers from Kenya and Bermuda were drafted in as guest Canadians and indeed one Lucifer member claiming a Canadian passport played for the Canadians. Some 52 players took to the links and had a very enjoyable morning at Woking in brilliant sunshine followed by the usual excellent lunch. Again, fittingly the match was drawn.

Any round up of the golf played by our overseas guests would not be complete without a brief mention of the many informal games organised by Lucifers at their own clubs for smaller groups of overseas players. There were games and social events organised by Past Captain, Ian Mavor for some of our friends from The Australian Golf club and also the Durban Divots at Royal St George’s Golf Club. John & Jenny Newton kindly hosted two groups of Canadians at Rye and for dinner at home and Graham & Pippa Lark took two parties of Canadians to Royal Cinque Ports. Assistance was rendered by Past Captain, Charlie Jamieson at Muirfield and The Berkshire, by our Treasurer, George Meakin at St George’s Hill, by Derek Scott at New Zealand and by David Hubbard at Swinley Forest all thus enabling a number of our Commonwealth friends to enjoy Lucifer hospitably and a round of golf on different courses.

However, mention must be made of David & Jenny Pettman, who once on again on separate occasions entertained friends from The Australian Golf Club and Royal Melbourne at Rye for numerous games, meals and bottles of wine including hosting many for dinner at their lovely home. These two are really the essence of what it means to be a Lucifer in Tournament Week as every year, in the name of friendship, they go way beyond the call of duty and, of course, there is nothing more enjoyable than being invited by your host and hostess into their home in a spirit of shared camaraderie. There will doubtless be other selfless acts by Lucifers in entertaining our overseas guests which have not been recorded here, for which apologies but also sincere thanks for all that you have done in making this event so very special and unforgettable.

The Ladies are never ignored by the Lucifers. Indeed, all but our short tours, are mixed as is the Autumn Meeting with golf and various social events arranged. Again, this spirit of sharing and doing things together was well demonstrated this year by two games of golf being organised by Rosie Shotton, the Captain’s wife, at The Berkshire and Rye ably assisted by Hannah Hubbard at The Berkshire and Ann Barnes at Rye.

At The Berkshire on 4th July some 24 ladies from overseas played with 15 Lucifer ladies in a fourball better ball competition with the winners being Remony Millwater, Christine Dunn (Australia), Gill Wyman (South Africa) and Shirley Higgins (Bermuda) and the runners up being Rachal Pentecost, Jeannie Dowley (Canada), Jenny Oliver (Australia) and Penny Webster. This was a very enjoyable day for all with the match being played in a good friendly atmosphere as was the foursomes at Rye on 8th July when 3 ladies from overseas played with 12 Lucifer Ladies. The winners were Penny Bourne and Shirley Higgins again, from Bermuda with the runners up being our own Jenny Newton and Cherry Figgis. Thanks to Rosie for organising these games and to all who played.

The ever popular London tour and lunch took place again this year organised by the Commonwealth Scribe’s wife, Sue Bonsall. The 28 ladies including 3 Lucifer wives with 2 excellent Blue Badge guides embarked on a 2 hour walking tour in bright weather on Tuesday 6th July around Mayfair. This whistle stop tour was much enjoyed by all and took in briefly Buckingham Palace, Canada Gate, Green Park, The Canada Memorial, Shephard Market, Curzon Street, Berkeley Square, New Bond Street, the Churchill/Roosevelt sculpture and the Royal Arcade before finishing up at Brown’s Hotel, London’s oldest hotel, in Albemarle Street, for a sumptuous lunch with wine.

The centrepiece of the Commonwealth Tournament is, as always, the formal black tie dinner at The Savoy Hotel, where the first dinner took place for our inaugural tournament in 1928. Nearly all of the overseas participants and their spouses or partners attended together with numerous Lucifers and their wives. Around 310 were present at the dinner on Wednesday 7th July presided over by our President, Air Marshall Sir Ian Macfadyen and our Captain, Bertie Shotton.

We were honoured to have the current Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Peter Foster, and his wife present and Peter kindly proposed the toast to the Society, His address was followed by the Captain who, in his humorous response, concluded by proposing the toast to overseas golfers and guests. The concluding, rather more reflective but equally well delivered speech, was given by John Collins of The Vesuvian Golfing society on behalf of the guests to the Society for a wonderful 84th Commonwealth Tournament. More information on the dinner including the speeches may be found on YouTube if you search “Lucifer Golf Society 2022 Commonwealth Dinner”. The relevant stream is the one listed at “1.34.32”.

The Commonwealth Scribe then summed up the Tournament, thanked all the participants and the many volunteers and announced the results, with the prizes being presented by our President, as follows:

1. The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at West Hill Golf Club was returned by Paul Coronel from Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia with a score of 40 points.

2. The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at West Hill and competing for the Douglas Bader Trophy was by Rodney Higgins from Mid Ocean Golf Club in Bermuda with 36 points.

3. The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at Sunningdale Golf Club was returned by Andrew Lyall from The Australian Golf Club, Sydney, Australia with a score of 37 points.

4. The best score by a Commonwealth competitor at Sunningdale and competing for the Douglas Bader trophy was by Ken Woods from Shaughnessy Golf Club, British Columbia, Canada with 37 Points.

5. The winner of the Douglas Bader Trophy, being this year, the best combined score by a Commonwealth Player aged over 75 was Chris Davidson from the Peninsular Kingswood Country Golf Club in Victoria, Australia and playing off a handicap of 16 with a combined score of 74 points with a fine 42 points on Sunningdale Old Course.

6. On a count back from Paul Coronel, who played off a handicap of 9.6, the runner up of the 2022 Commonwealth Tournament was Don Rogers from Emerald Hills Golf Club, Ontario, Canada and playing off a handicap of 9.7 with a combined score of 72, evenly split with 36 points at each course.

7. The overall winner of the 2022 Commonwealth Tournament and winner of The Lucifer Golfing Society Commonwealth Trophy and playing off a handicap of 9.2 was Martin Walter from Royal Melbourne Golf Club with 73 points, scoring 36 points at West Hill and 37 points at Sunningdale.

The proceedings concluded, slightly later than planned, with an excellent performance from Peter Willcock accompanied by his pianist Michael Cayton. With a stirring rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ with its rousing chorus we were all sent off into the night with warm feelings and good cheer; some to home and others to the American Bar.

The Commonwealth Scribe has received many kind messages of thanks and of the many has chosen to set out an extract from the message from Rodney Higgins, a long term attendee from Bermuda, who was amongst our prize winners this year and who wrote:

‘Just a short note to say how much my wife Shirley and I enjoyed all of the events at this year’s Centenary Tournament. We especially appreciated the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle a privilege that we will long remember. Each year we look forward to joining the Lucifers and their Commonwealth guests  in the various golfing and social event, renewing acquaintances and being part of the general camaraderie that the Lucifers genuinely engender for the benefit of all. Personally I am amazed, that after having played 6 times in the last 7 days, I am not totally golfed out and I can only put that down to the totally relaxed friendly foursomes at Walton Heath and Woking when many Lucifers took part.

Our new Hon. Commonwealth Scribe for 2023 will be Michael Bourne. Michael took up golf seriously in 1994 when he joined Coombe Hill GC, a new venue for Day 2 of the Tournament next year. (West Hill will host Day 1 as usual.) He is also a member of New Zealand GC and Vilasol in the Algarve, Portugal. Michael plays a very good game off a 14 handicap but, at the moment, has to take a shot from his wife Penny, who is a keen golfer and a past Lady Captain at Coombe Hill. Michael currently continues to pursue various entrepreneurial activities in the technology sector but will find the necessary time to be Commonwealth Scribe next year. Elected a Lucifer in 2016, Michael and Penny will be making their first overseas tour next January when the much postponed Centenary Tour to Australia commences and looks forward to meeting many prospective participants from that part of the Commonwealth then. Michael would be delighted to hear from interested participants for next year’s Commonwealth Tournament scheduled to take place from 3rd to 5th July 2023 via his email: michaelbourne.lgs@gmail.com.

 

With best wishes
Chris Bonsall
Hon Commonwealth Scribe (2020-2022)