Golf, interrupted: Cotton (far left, competing in 1937), was among many
British players who saw their careers sidetracked by World War II. Jacobs
(left, playing in 1963) was a teenager during the war who tried to enlist in
the Royal Air Force but wasn’t medically fit to fly, which could have spared
his life. At Turnberry (above), an old military runway sits by the famous links.
Another stated “a
player whose stroke
is affected by the
simultaneous explosion of a bomb may
play another ball
from the same place.
Penalty one stroke.”
The Temporary Rules struck a jocular chord around the
world. Amused journalists from major magazines, news-
papers and wire services, including the Saturday Evening
Post, New York Herald Tribune and United Press, wrote to
the club requesting copies that they gleefully published.
They may have taken their cues from Joseph Goebbels,
Hitler’s minister of propaganda. Goebbels, according to
Richmond’s club history, mocked the rules through a British
traitor, William Joyce, later dubbed Lord Haw-Haw, who
broadcast anti-British screeds from Germany. “By means of
these ridiculous reforms the English snobs try to impress
the people with a kind of pretended heroism,” Lord Haw-
Haw said in one of his broadcasts. “They can do so without
danger, because, as everyone knows, the German Air Force
devotes itself only to the destruction of military targets and
objectives of importance to the war effort.”
The club argued that the Temporary Rules were written
in earnest, even defending the stroke penalty for playing a
second ball when an errant shot was caused by an explo-
sion in midswing. It argued that players might otherwise be
tempted to abuse the rule, blaming noise that occurred at a
distance too far to have been a factor.
“The rule shows a proper mixture of the Spartan and the
modern spirit,” Darwin wrote. “It acknowledges that bombs
are altogether out of the common and that some allowance
is to be made for them; at the same time, to have a second
shot is so outrageous that the player must be prepared to
pay for it; no number of wild Germans is to be allowed to
make the game wholly farcical.”
The original copy of the Temporary Rules, incidentally,
“still holds pride of place, on the wall, framed and behind
glass, in our members’ bar,” club general manager John
Maguire says. The club also kept a few other mementos
from the war, as duly noted in the minutes of a committee
meeting from December 1940: “It was decided to convert
the present bomb craters into bunkers.”
This was not an unusual occurrence at courses that were
bombed. “The Germans would jettison their bombs on their
way back, and odd ones would fall all over the place,” Jacobs
says. “There’s a great big crater on the course at Sandy
Lodge [GC, northwest of London], left there as a hazard on
Jacobs was 15 when the war began, 17 when he and
friends set out to fight it by enlisting in the Royal Air Force.
“We were going to win the war,” he says. “We were going
to fly Spitfires.” He was deemed not medically fit to fly,
however, and was grounded for the duration of the war, a
boon to golf instruction internationally over the next 70-
plus years. “It probably saved my life,” he says, noting the
mortality rate among Spitfire pilots.
The heroism was left to others, including Jacobs’ friend
and future business partner Laddie Lucas, who received
the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying
Cross. “An absolute hero,” Jacobs says.
Lucas was also a golfer, the best left-hander in the world
at the time, who was born in the clubhouse at Prince’s GC in
Sandwich, adjacent to Royal St. George’s on England’s southeast coast. It is an area that was known as Hell’s Corner, the
result of Britain’s coastal military bases (and the targets they
represented) and their proximity to continental Europe, 25
miles from the German-occupied north of France.
Prince’s was among English golf’s crown jewels, the host
of the 1932 Open won by Gene Sarazen wielding his new
secret weapon that came to be known as the sand wedge.
The British military requisitioned the course, using it as a
training ground that included target practice for the RAF.
Aviation pioneer and World War I flying hero Lord