Chris Cox (Hon Treasurer and keeper of the BEGS Archive) looks back at 50 years of Baltic Exchange Golfing Society history
So, as the new decade dawned, five months on from the Moon landing, marking the end of an eventful decade of perpetual change and social awakenings, BEGS entered our 69th year as a society to the dulcet tones of Rolf Harris’ ‘Two Little Boys’ under the leadership of Harold Wilson’s Labour Party. Hope was springing eternal for a further bright decade and England were favourites to retain the World Cup due in Mexico in June, the same month as the upcoming first General Election in four years.
Our captain taking us into this new era was HF Faure. He was ably assisted by his vice WE Willie James, who many of our members will remember long after he retired and stopped playing.
After the usual lull of golfing activity in January and February our year kicked off on 5 March with the Annual Dinner held at The Devonshire Club in St James Street. 108 guests paid £4 a head which included all wines and table liqueurs. The menu was:
Smoked Salmon/Cream of Asparagus Soup/Rainbow Trout Meuniere/Minute Steak Chasseur with Brussels Sprouts and Macedoine of Vegetables and Chateau Potatoes/ Scotch Woodcock / Coffee – all for a bargain £4.
The main speaker was PL Ryde, golf correspondent of The Times. It is also one of the first occasions the name of Richard Fehr is mentioned in the annals. The Welsh guests were happy as Wales had beaten England 17-13 the Saturday before at Twickenham. The Five Nations would eventually be shared between them and France. ‘Love Grows’ by Edison Lighthouse topped the charts throughout March that year – a rather apt title for the time.
Rather surprisingly, on 18 March the AGM in the Queens Room on the Baltic was only attended by seven people – with four being unable to attend due to ‘business’ commitments. Minutes from the meeting throw up some interesting points:
1) Willie James became our captain, with Lt.Col EG Easter coming in as his vice.
2) The meeting also selected the team to represent us against the Cardiff Exchange two months later!
3) The dinner showed a profit of £10 but it was decided that the venue lacked ‘ambience’ and that the food ‘was not up to the standard expected by our society’. The Connaught Rooms and the Cafe Royal would be approached for 1971 – the dinner was eventually held at the Park Lane Hotel. We would not return to Devonshire Club which went into liquidation in 1976.
4) With regards to the accounts, it was decided that the society should sell its investment in war loan stocks which had been purchased as a 5 per cent issue in 1933 – this raised £95 (equivalent today of £600)
This was the first year when, proposed by the new Vice-Captain, that we approached the Baltic for a contribution, which was approved later in the summer.
Subscriptions brought in £124 – full sub was £2
5) Dudley Speagall, who had paid for the original honours board which covered the first 50 years of the Society, offered £18 to pay for the second board which was gratefully accepted
6) Trophies were to be reinsured – the Erlebach Cup – the main Cardiff match trophy – was reinsured for £100 (£1600 in today’s money which would imagine is 20 per cent of what it’s actually worth!}
April, as ever, was a busy month generally.
Gay Trip – priced at 15/1 and ridden by Pat Taffee for Trainer Fred Rimell – won the Grand National. At the Oscars on April 7, Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture. John Wayne secured Best Actor for True Grit and Best Song went to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.
At Augusta on 9 April the 34th Masters started, ending in an 18-hole playoff on the Monday between Gene Littler and Billy Casper, the eventual winner. On the same day – and on a much lesser scale – BEGS faced The Metal Exchange at The Addington in Croydon, a match we lost overwhelmingly 21 points to six! Not one singles match in the morning was won. The day after, as Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles and bringing to an end the speculation that they had split up, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge of Troubled Water reached Number 1.
Two days later on Saturday 11 April, Chelsea and Leeds United played out a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup Final on a rain-soaked pitch at Wembley. The game is still considered one of the most violent matches ever. Chelsea would win the replay 2-1 18 days later at Old Trafford, which is the last time the final was played in April.
Harry Catterick’s Everton, including the Holy Trinity of Ball, Kendall and Harvey were also crowned League Champions in April. The evening of April 11 saw the launch of the well documented and nearly fatal Apollo 13 space mission, which culminated in a return against all odds some six days later.
On a sad note, on 17 April the Society’s President DE Erlebach died in Eastbourne aged 87. He had stood down the year before but was persuaded to carry on, when he had moved to Sussex that year. A stalwart of BEGS he acted as secretary from 1923 to 1948, treasurer from 1948 to 1967 and president from 1956 to 1970. He was the last captain before the outbreak of war in 1939 and, it is mentioned, was devastated when much of the society’s records were lost when his office was destroyed during the Blitz.
The spring meeting was held on 29 April at Hadley Wood, with 30 members taking part and RC Clancey winning in a count back with MTR Mabbs, both scoring nett 71s.
That evening in Vienna, Manchester City beat Gornik Zabre 2-1 to win the European Cup Winners Cup.
And so to Woodhall Spa on the weekend of May 16/17, and the annual duel with the Cardiff Exchange Golfing Society – 16 Baltic players met 18 Cardiff members at the Petwood Hotel on the Friday evening and were welcomed by Mr Duckett, the general manager. Cost per night was 57/6d including breakfast.
The singles were won 10 1/2 to 7 1/2 by CEGS followed by the foursomes cup also heading back to Wales after a 5-4 triumph, so a four-point victory for our visitors. After the black-tie dinner of roast saddle of lamb and pears belle helene on the Saturday evening, the mixed foursomes on the Sunday were won by GB ‘Rupee’ Sturt and Lak Fairweather with 40 points. During the dinner it was announced that 37 ties would be produced and offered to all those who played in the match since 1958 and that the captain of CEGS would take honorary membership of BEGS and be entitled to join us at the spring, summer and autumn meetings. ‘Back Home’ by the England World Cup squad topped the charts that weekend. A week later, ‘A Question of Sport’ first appeared on our screens – one month earlier than The Goodies!
The BEGS squad for Woodhall Spa was:
WE James / RC Clancey / FJ Collis / ESN Faure / JR Faure / HF Faure / DM Llewellyn / KGL Mason / AC Montgomerie / DE Naylor / WAJ Reardon-Smith / HCA Rowe / G Scarborough / JD Shaw / NW Spratt /GB Sturt / BF Turner.
CEGS were represented by:
V Hay / P O’Leary / AD Arnold / WS Branson / JD Barlee / RW Groves / J Downing / L Fairweather / A Alexander / D Winks / D Williams / H Gibson / M Davies / R Geldard / A Hooper / D Webster / W Bowles / G Needham.
A week after Nijinksi, ridden by Lester Piggott, had won the Derby for Vincent O’Brien at 11/8 at Epsom. We had a rare, albeit close, 6 1/2 to 5 1/2 win against the Corn Exchange at Tandridge on June 10. Wins were few and far between at the time as was in evidence nine days later when we went down 6 3/4 to 2 1/4 to Lloyds at the Berkshire after yet another morning of zero points. The night before, Ted Heath had swept the Conservatives into power with a 31-seat majority.
In between our losses, on 14 June England had thrown away a two-goal lead against West Germany in Leon in the quarter finals of the World Cup to go out 3-2 with what many claimed was a better team than in 1966. It would be another 12 years until we qualified again.
A better week followed with Tony Jacklin winning the US Open at Hazeltine, Minnesota by seven strokes, with four consecutive under-par rounds. For Jacklin it was his second Major in two years having won the Open the year before at Lytham.
And so to Thorpeness, accompanied by Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime, for the annual summer jolly in Suffolk over the weekend of 4/5 July. 21 players convened at the Dolphin Hotel on the Friday evening and 12 of them stayed to play one more round on the Monday. Lunch on the Saturday was the only meal taken at the golf club with all other meals at the hotel. On the Saturday afternoon, John Newcombe beat Ken Rosewall in an all Australian Men’s Final at Wimbledon.
KGL Mason won the singles with 32 points with the Saturday foursomes going to Lt Col Easter and DA Mason with 32 points. Overall weekend winner was Lt Col Easter with 60 points. There was also an additional prize over the three rounds including the Sunday morning for best scores over a ‘Blind’ six holes chosen by the captain – in 1970 they were 2/3/7/10/13/16. We aim to reintroduce this in 2021! A further prize was also available for best scores on the Par 3’s.
Against the Stock Exchange at Woking on 7 July, we fared slightly better in the morning amassing half a point followed by a whole one point in the afternoon to go down 6 1/2 to 1 1/2 – and so it went on. Four days later at St Andrews Jack Nicklaus won the now famous play off against the unfortunate Doug Sanders over 18 holes to claim his second Open Championship. Leading by one shot down 18 Sanders took four shots from 70 yards including a tiny putt to send the match to a playoff. The original Van de Velde moment?
As Autumn arrived we saw Dave Stockton win the US PGA at Southern Hills, Oklahoma and some of us may have been at the Isle of Wight festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend to see Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who and The Moody Blues. Hendrix died just three weeks later in London on 18 September and Janis Joplin passed away on 4 October in Los Angeles.
Another point of interest is that on 13 September the first New York Marathon took place with the winner clocking two hours 31 minutes!!
Our concluding two fixtures took place in October, firstly on the 3rd with another loss this time against Military Staff College at Camberley Heath. We lost 5-3 playing against a team made up of four majors, three captains and one wing commander – the aptly named JP Scrambler!
The season came to an end on 6 October at West Hill Woking where a young Robert Bird (playing off 19) appears for the first time joining 30 other golfers for the autumn meeting won with a nett 71 by LA Baker.
The Society’s primary trophy, the Gold Cup, comprised 35 golfers with handicaps ranging from five to 24 in what seems to have been a localised competition of some sort. Victory went to RC Clancey off 15, the first of his two triumphs.
So 50 years on and in the midst of this COVID-19 lockdown we can reflect on various aspects of yesteryear – of days when a pint of Guinness cost today’s equivalent of 18p and a dozen eggs 11p – to a time when the shipping market hit an eight-year high triggering an investment frenzy which was made worse by increasing world economic problems as a result of which seaborne trade barely increased for a decade – to an era of glam rock, of new fashions and longer hair.
New ideas began to creep into the Society. Baltic grants, ties, localized Gold Cup matches and poor attendance at the AGM. Some things never change
Christmas number one in 1970 by McGuinness Flint was ‘When I’m Dead and Gone’. Sadly nearly all of those mentioned above are just that – and they are missed.
Yet still our great society moves on undaunted. See you all ‘on the other side’ in the sun.
HONOURS BOARD 1970
PRESIDENT – DE ERLEBACH
CAPTAIN – WE JAMES
GOLD CUP – RC CLANCEY
SYMONDSEN CLEEK (NET SPRING AND AUTUMN) – MRT MABBS
ALEXANDER KNIGHT CHALLENGE CUP (SPRING) – RC CLANCEY
LANGRDIGE TROPHY (AUTUMN) – KGL MASON
VETERANS CUP (OVER 50 YEARS) – ST CALDER
ADAMSON CUP (SCRATCH SPING AND AUTUMN) – HGA ROWE/KGL MASON
BILLMEIR CUP (AUTUMN BEST SCORE OFF HANDICAP) – LA BAKER
ERIC FAURE (COMBINED SUMMER MEETING) – LT COL EG EASTER