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same direction – top to bottom. It took hours! I didn’t volunteer for that job again. He won the silver medal at the show with his carnation: ‘Amport Glory’. The formal gardens he had charge of were laid out by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1926 and the planting was managed by Gertrude Jekyl, one of the great horticultural figures of the early twentieth century, who often worked with Lutyens. The gardens were restored by the present owners, the Ministry of Defence and, along with the House, are now Grade 2 listed. Amport is now the Armed Forces’ Chaplaincy Centre.

Another diversion from golf was the local cricket team, for whom I played when the family were away in the summer. English cricket was in good heart at that time, with Jack Hobbs at his peak scoring 16 centuries in the 1925 season. He followed this with two for England when the Ashes were regained at last in 1926, after Australian domination since the war. It was a favourite game of mine and I was quite useful as an all-rounder. This was recognised by the owner of one of the clubs we played and he offered to put my name forward to the County, with a view to my joining the Hampshire Club and Ground staff. I was very tempted but decided to stick with golf.

I couldn’t close my account of life at Amport without mentioning two stories told by the locals. The 14th Marquis of Winchester used to walk the estate looking just like a tramp. On one occasion he met up with the local poacher carrying the nights ‘bag’, and challenged him – only to get a round of abuse. His Lordship then disclosed his identity, but the poacher was not at all impressed and told him: “If you’re a Lord, why the ٭٭٭٭٭٭ ٭٭٭٭ can’t you dress like one?” Another incident occurred during the annual meet of the Tedworth Hunt at Amport, when the hounds bowled over a hare. The disreputable-looking peer was walking in the park and a huntsman tossed him the hare saying: “Here y’are man. One of his lordship’s hares for your dinner, but don’t tell the old devil that I gave it to you!” A very acrimonious correspondence ensued between the ‘Devil’ and the Master of Foxhounds.

I enjoyed the cushy life at Amport but it was not the ideal preparation for a budding tournament player; nor did it prepare me for the realities of a greenkeeper/pro’s life, which I was to find at my next job.

Mule PowerMarket Drayton in Shropshire is a busy market town known as the ‘Gingerbread Town’ because of its secret recipe for the cake bread. I arrived at the golf club in 1928 and came face to face with reality – and hard graft. It was a 9-6 job, six days a week, with a ½ day on Wednesdays and the equipment for the upkeep of the course was very basic. Light rollers for the greens were constructed from lengths of drainpipe filled with concrete with a spike at each end. The handle was an iron rectangle with a loop on each leg to fit onto the spikes. Three or four rollers were left at strategic points on the course and you carried the handle with you. The mowing of tees and greens was by hand machine and the fairways by a one horse, or rather one mule power job, with a single-cut 36-inch mower. The mule was not a joke - he really existed. The Shropshire club’s history records that: - “the Secretary was requested to write expressing thanks for the kind loan of a mule to the club, and confirming that the mule must not be sold, but be returned in the event of the club no longer requiring its service”. Well, Sammy was there when I arrived and, believe me, he had all the characteristics associated with mules and a considerable amount of animal cunning. At work time in the morning he was invariably at the far end of the course and it was always a lengthy performance to get him to the machine. He then refused to back between the shafts and we had to manhandle the mower into position behind him before he could be harnessed. Once in it was the devil’s own job to stop him breaking into a gallop. We certainly had some fun with Sammy!