If you had written a script that the Society’s President, Lord Rothermere, a direct descendant of Lord Northcliffe who founded the Northcliffe Golfing Society’s 100 years ago, would end up winning one of the main trophies of the competition then you just wouldn’t have believed it.
But that is just what happened as Lord Rothermere, the great, great Uncle of Lord Northcliffe took the honours on the first day with a convincing win with partner, Lisa Hollamby, for his first ever Society golfing trophy.
No doubt if the Society’s founder Lord Northcliffe all those years ago in 1910 had been looking down on proceedings then he would have had a wry smile on his face as he watched the remarkable win.
Regarded as possibly the outsiders in the first round of the competition, Lord Rothermere and Lisa showed that the lush fairways and tricky greens of the Pines course at Hardelot, Northern France, held no horrors for them as they scored an amazing 51pts to leave all opposition trailing in their wake.
The course was in immaculate condition for the competition and so was their game with both dove-tailing brilliantly to win the Harmsworth/Mulchrone Trophy for the pair with the highest stableford points.
So remarkable was their scoring that they came in 5 pts clear of joint runners up Steve Maddren and Julian Elvin from the Mail on Sunday and Alan Jackson and Keith Cottington from Harmsworth Printing.
Their win for the Chairman’s team helped their side into second position overnight, behind leaders A&N Media who won the first day’s Associated Newspapers Cup for the team with the most stableford wins. Both the Daily Mail and Harmsworth Printing teams were close up in joint third with Northcliffe Media in fifth and the Mail on Sunday bringing up the rear.
There was everything to play for on the second day with the Chairman’s team pairing of Tom Gillespie and Graham Fuller sharing the honours with Harmsworth Printing’s Peter Murphy and Peter Durham for the Vere Harmsworth Challenge Cup for the biggest match play win. In joint third place were Harmsworth Printing Captain John Bird with partner Keith Burkin and Northcliffe Media’s Kerrel Wills and John Tucker.
Having had an emphatic victory at the last Inter Company competition, the A&N Media team under new Captain David Henderson were strongly fancied to again capture the main trophy of the weekend. Although coming second to Harmsworth Printing on the second day for the Arthur Fuller Cup, awarded to the team with the most match play wins, they finished with enough points overall to retain the main trophy of the weekend, the Viscount Rothermere Cup.
There was a desperate battle for the Wooden Spoon with the Daily Mail doing their very best to beat the Mail on Sunday team under their new Captain Bob Cass but it was Bob who stepped forward to receive the infamous trophy.
One of the biggest cheers of the weekend was for the JAK Champagne Trophy winner which was awarded to the Society’s most enthusiastic golfer. This year the Magnum of Champagne was presented by Lord Rothermere to John Scott-Drysdale. Another big cheer welcomed the winner of the Lady Rothermere Charity putting contest, Peter Durham, who also received a Magnum of Champagne for his round of 3 under, around the tricky 18 hole putting green at the Pines, deviously laid out by Jayne Burden, wife of the Society’s Secretary Garth Burden.
This year there was a new award presented, the Ian Wooldridge trophy, to mark Ian’s long and enthusiastic golfing career with the Society. Vyvyan Harmsworth, Society Chairman, said that Ian epitomised the Corinthian sporting spirit and Ian’s wife Sarah Wooldridge attended the prize giving to make the presentation.
The new trophy was awarded to Garth Burden who said it was a tremendous honour for him as having worked and played golf with Ian he knew what a very special person he was and how he epitomised all that was good in sport and life generally.
In a tribute to the Society’s founder, Vyvyan told the Centenary Gala Dinner that Lord Northcliffe, as owner of the Evening News, founder of Answers and Titbits, creator of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, had never hit a golf ball before the age of 34. He would never have done so had he not been overworked, ill with exhaustion and told by his doctors to take some exercise and relaxation. He was led towards golf by his brothers, Leicester who was the best player in the House of Commons and Vyvyan – a scratch golfer himself.
His first shot was played on a course at Cromer and his enthusiasm soon took him to another level. He commissioned James Baird to build him a 9 hole course at Sutton Place and James Baird in turn suggested that Sandy Thompson, described as the sardonic gnome, a professional who had played in 4 Open Championships, should be employed as his personal trainer. It was at Sutton Place that he hit 284 practise balls one after the other, collapsed and had to be carried back to the house by his staff. Within a year he had reduced his handicap to 15 and began to realise that the game was far beyond just hitting a ball into a small hole.
“Golf is a science in which you will exhaust yourself but never your subject. It is a test of temper, a trial of honour and a revealer of character. A chance to play the man and act the Gentleman. It promotes not only physical health but Moral force.”
That said Northcliffe is my idea of golf.
Through this intense interest he personally sponsored and accompanied Vardon and Ray for the US Gold Cup (Read The Match by Mark Frost).
Most of us are aware that he founded the North Foreland Golf Course in Broadstairs and appointed Abe Mitchell as the professional. Mitchell, known as the best golfer never to win an Open Championship, remained there for five years. His greatest performance perhaps is to stand in glory on top of the Ryder Cup since its founding in 1927.
Northcliffe played on 150 courses in his lifetime including Melbourne, Sydney, Japan, New Zealand and many in the United States, including Augusta. He was a member of 33 clubs.
When he visited Chicago in 1917 as head of our War Mission, encouraging the Americans to join the fight, the Chicago Chronicle headline read “Northcliffe’s golf not as bad as expected”.
During the 20 years that he enjoyed golf he did more than any other man to promote it which he did through the pages of his newspapers. He hired the best players to write about the game and paid them as if they were special correspondents. He opened up the fairways to the masses and was responsible for the growing galleries at our leading tournaments.
He founded the Northcliffe Golfing Society in 1910 so we could mix together outside the workplace and enjoy this wonderful and challenging game which he did so much to encourage.
None of us would be here today celebrating a centenary which has provided such good sport and fun for us and our forefathers over the last 100 years without him.
Vyvyan then invited Lord Rothermere as the Society’s President, to propose the toast to Lord Northcliffe and the Northcliffe Golfing Ssociety.
There were some very special prizes on offer in the raffle donated by the teams to help raise funds for the Society and the draw for the framed original MAC cartoon was won by the Daily Mail’s Peter McKay.
To mark the Centenary visit to his course, the Director of Golf at Hardelot, Ken Strachan arranged for Northcliffe Golfing Society flags on all the 18 holes plus cup inserts in the holes showing the Northcliffe’s Centenary logo.
Maybe Ken had something to do with Lord Rothermere’s sparkling performance as on the practice day before the competition they played 9 holes in a “friendly” against Vyvyan Harmsworth and Garth Burden, winning the spoils before the last hole.
There was tremendous golf played over the 2 days of the competition, none more so than by the winners of the Nearest the Pin contest on all the Par 3 holes.
Champagne on the first day was won by Simon Wilks (Northcliffe Media), Alan Jackson (Harmsworth Printing), Ian McGowan (A&N Media), Stephen Robertson (Chairman’s team) and Dave Henderson (A&N Media).
On the second day the champagne was won by Martin Morgan, Lisa Hollamby and Topsy Gillespie all from the Chairman’s team, John Leitch (A&N Media) and Ian McIlgorm (Mail on Sunday)
Over £4,000 was raised towards Society Funds from the raffle, MAC cartoon draw, Sweepstake, Back the Winner contest and other money raising ventures which help to subsidise future Society golf days.
Details of the Sweepstake and Back the Winner contests will be included with the Tandridge report and all winners will be notified by email.
The full results of the weekend were as follows:
Viscount Rothermere Cup – Overall winning team – A&N Media. 21pts
Harmsworth/Mulchrone Trophy. (Sunday) – Pair with Highest Stableford Points. Lord Rothermere and Lisa Hollamby. Chairman’s Team. 51 pts.
Associated Neswspapers Cup. (Sunday) – Team with most stableford wins. A&N Media. 12 pts
Arthur Fuller Cup (Monday) – Team with most match play wins. Harmsworth Printing. 5 wins.
Vere Harmsworth Challenge Cup (Monday) – Pair with Biggest Match Play Win.
Shared between Tom Gillespie and Graham Fuller, Chairman’s Team and Peter Murphy and Peter Durham, Harmsworth Printing. 6/5
Wooden Spoon. Mail on Sunday.
JAK Champagne Trophy for the Most Enthusiastic Golfer. John Scott-Drysdale, Chairman’s Team.
Ian Wooldridge Centenary Trophy. Garth Burden. Chairman’s Team.
Final placings and total points won were as follows with the first round points in brackets.
1st. A&N Media 21 (12)
2nd. Harmsworth Printing 17 ((7)
3rd. Chairman’s Team 15 (8)
4th. Northcliffe Media 14 (6)
5th. Daily Mail 10 (7)
6th Mail on Sunday 7 (2)