(From the History of the Standard Athletic Club, 1890-1990 published to celebrate the Club's centenary, available from the club Secretary)
The first ten years
In October1989 the Golf Section celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Ten years is rather a short time for any enterprise to build up a "history" although its beginnings and early achievements can just as proudly take their place beside those of its more illustrious football and cricketing predecessors.
An attempt to trace this young history has been made through the sequence of chapters which follows.
In the beginning all was not quite darkness. There had been a few glimmers prior to the Creation of the SAC Golf Section. These were shed by a small number of SAC members who had made their own arrangements either with private clubs or through the Royal Society of Saint George, who, in the early sixties had formed a section to cater for experienced British golfers resident in the Paris area, but which had no sort of affiliation with the SAC nor any policy to attract SAC members by publicising its existence.
There was, therefore, no ready indication as to the number of SAC members attracted to the game of golf .
The notice was posted on the 14th July 1979 and when finally removed 10 weeks later, 155 names were counted. It looked as though the SAC was going to have a Golf Section.
The inaugural meeting on 3rd October 1979 attracted 41 members. SAC Vice President Vic Constant opened the meeting and introduced Charles Lloyd who, before going into the possibilities already investigated, underlined the importance of forming a Golf Section without any further delay if the demands of the large number of SAC potential golfers were to be satisfied in view of the recent upsurge of interest in French golf circles. Finding a not-too-distant private club, willing to accommodate a number of our members on a yearly fee-paying basis and under conditions which would be acceptable numerically and financially, was not going to be easy.
The enthusiasm displayed at this inaugural meeting was evident from the number of questions asked and suggestions made. It was not difficult to find the volunteers necessary to form the proposed Steering Committee which was mandated to have the Section in working order by 31st December 1979.
The first meeting of the Steering Committee took place a week later on l0th October when the following appointments were made:
|Management Committee Representative||Victor Constant|
|Practice and Equipment Organiser:||Charles Lloyd|
|Membership Liaison:||Peter Engelen
|F.F.G. & Club Liaison:||Charles Berkowitch|
|Social and Ladies:||Joyce Natanson|
The name of Victor Constant on this list was very important to a section which had yet to be officially recognised by the Management Committee. His contribution during these early meetings and later on as co-opted member during the first year of the established Golf Section Committee was invaluable.
The following events and achievements are worth recording:
- Mailing to all signatories of original notice comprising: letter setting out the aims of the Section; questionnaire asking members to define their category as golfers into 1) absolute beginner, 2) enthusiastic rabbit or 3) capable golfer; an application form for Founder Membership to the Section at 75F a time. By the end of the year, 80 such paid-up members were listed, a figure which was to reach 110 for Section and Villarceaux memberships by March 1980.
- The purchase and installation in the Swimming Pool area of two practice nets together with balls and other equipment. These would be transferred to a site in the top right-hand comer of the SAC grounds during the summer months.
- Making suitable arrangements for playing, practising and coaching through the local municipal courses. Chevry II was found to offer the most favourable conditions, and beginners were assembled for group lessons, the first of which got under way in January 1980.
- Section Rules were drawn up and submitted for approval at the management meeting held on 7th February 1980.
A name and telephone number, supplied by Ian Campbell, was to send the two Charleses (Berkowitch and Lloyd) on a mission to the Villarceaux Golf Club on the 21st October 1979 to see what terms could be arranged for a lasting association between the two Clubs. Well received and lunched by the President Boissière and aided and abetted by Bill Baker, the course architect and owner of the telephone number, the principal of such an arrangement to accommodate an acceptable number of SAC members was agreed to
Temporary conditions were offered to any SAC member showing his membership card to play during the week or weekend for a green fee of 20F, a situation of which full advantage was taken and which was to continue until 4th March 1980, date of the first Golf Section AGM. Here, it was announced that Villarceaux had just made an attractive proposition to SAC for block membership and that although there had been no official statement, it looked as though their problems were coming to an end. The meeting voted in favour of accepting the offer and soon after the two Presidents, Cosstick and Boissière, were to finalise the terms for the first year of the SAC - Villarceaux association.
The Committee elected to see the certain duties being allocated at its Section through its first year was as follows, with the first meeting on 11th March:
|Competition Organiser (Ladies):||Jacqueline Gentil|
|Competition Organiser (Men):||Geoff Butterworth|
|Membership Villarceaux:||Douglas Broomer|
|Beginners Chevry II||Jean-Louis Auzière
Kathryn Quantrell -Parks
|Ladies and Social:||Joyce Natanson|
|Co-opted member:||Vic Constant|
Fred Cosstick, re-elected in 1981, was to resign from the chairmanship early in 1982 before leaving the Paris area. Charles Lloyd was elected to his place at the 1982 AGM, a post he was to occupy until his resignation in 1989.
Other names to join the early committees were those of Douglas Anderson in 1981, who became General Secretary and later Treasurer, and Bernard Blandin as co-ordinator for Chevry II. Paul Miller joined the 1982 Committee as Competition Secretary, a post he cherished until 1990. Inez Forbes was elected the same year as section secretary.
With a total of less than 200 Villarceaux members in the early eighties and with most of these preferring to play on Sundays, the SAC members had things very much their own way on Saturdays. Three- and four-ball friendlies went off without any delay on the 1st tee and rounds would have been comfortably completed in 31/2 hours had it not been for the time taken in the eternal searching for lost balls. There was no graduating of the rough from short to medium, and so on, and any ball straying slightly from the fairway was immediately in deep trouble and with little or no clearing of undergrowth and scrub, the occasional visit into the trees was just as fatal. Rounds in those days were assessed not so much by the number of strokes taken, but by the number of balls lost!
The Commissions Sportives and Techniques of the day did very little to improve the condition of the course as it then existed. Fairways were unevenly cut and clover, dandelions and daisies thrived abundantly. The greens received only a minimum of attention and the lack of bunker rakes was not really a problem as there wasn't much sand in them to rake anyway! Admittedly, large, efficient (and expensive) mowing equipment and other essential material were not a part of the club's assets.
A great deal of time and effort were spent by the ground staff (Rene Alsuguren plus 1) in carrying out a programme of structural alterations and additions to the course.
The first SAC Organised competition took place on 22nd March 1980. Twenty players participated in the main Stableford competition with a special 9-hole competition organised for the beginners.
Other notable occasions in this first year which did much to foster relations between SAC and Villarceaux were the l0th May match between "England and France" played on a stroke aggregate basis in which "England" lost by a rather severe margin, and the "Super Master" organised by Villarceaux on 14th June followed by a huge barbecue, Son et Lumière and Bal Masqué in the grounds of the Chateau " Ninon " next door.
The shortcomings of the course during these early years did not detract in any way from the enjoyment experienced by our players. At least this was the impression everyone gave on regaining the sanctuary of the clubhouse. Here we had to make our own 19th hole arrangements to offset the non-renewal of a lapsed bar-licence.
On 23rd May 1981 Fred Cosstick was responsible for organising the Inaugural Spring Golf Meeting, to finding the sponsors, to designing and composing the programme and to creating what was to become in succeeding years the most popular and prestigious event on the SAC and Villarceaux golfing calendars and which regularly attracts the maximum 120 entrants.
In this first Spring meeting, however, a total of 77 competitors took part and the winner of the handsome Castrol Trophy, donated by Graham Morgan for the lowest Scratch score, was Hugh Paterson of the Royal Society of St. George, a trophy he was to win again on two later occasions. Young Alexander Cambell was the most successful of the SAC competitors, winning the men's Stableford with Eustace Gibbs in second place.
1981 was to see the launching of two more inaugural events: the Autumn Vase on 21st November, won by David Boothman, and the SAC Matchplay Knockout Competition fought out during the winter months with its first champion, Alan Kerr, winning the final over John Willatts in April 1982.
The beginning of 1983 resulted in a change in the Presidency. The new Comité de Direction elected at the Villarceaux AGM of 19th February nominated and elected Robert Proumen as President.
Robert, a great friend of the SAC contingent, assured us that our association would in no way be affected by the new changes and policies being wrought. Indeed, our position was greatly consolidated by the invitation to have representatives of the SAC sit on the Villarceaux Commission Sportive.
Our particular brief was to draw up and submit the list of local rules and points of etiquette to be incorporated in the newly designed scorecard. Alan Kerr, Graham Morgan and Paul Miller combined to produce the required document, whose text, apart from a few embellishments by later committees, reads very much the same on the scorecards of today.
The 1983 Villarceaux executive and sub-committees were extremely active in many directions. The programme to improve the quality of the course was well underway. The SAC conditions were also modified in 1983 and the block subscription, instead of being paid by two instalments in April and June, had now to be paid in January by a single instalment. A maximum of 40 SAC names was to be displayed in the secretary's office. A new President, Jean-Luc Ewald, was elected at the November 1985 A.G.M., which marked the beginning of the third and present epoch.
During the years 1983-85, the S.A.C group quietly looked after its own, steering clear of involvement in internal matters, organising its competitions and staging "bumper" editions of the annual Spring and Autumn Tournaments.
The most notable SAC exploit of this epoch occurred in 1984 when 6-handicap Alan Kerr scored a gross 72 in a Villarceaux-run competition, thus establishing the amateur record for the course which still stands today.
The third and present period of the SAC/Villarceaux history, beginning in 1986, saw the continued improvements in the upkeep and layout of the course along the lines laid down in 1983.
The SAC did achieve an improvement to the terms governing our total numbers and weekend restrictions. The problem of having to confine our total S.A.C membership to 40 as laid down by the previous President Proumen was accentuated by the increasing demand of existing and new SAC members wishing to enrol. This situation was greatly eased by the attitude of Jean-Luc Ewald which was one of complete unconcern over the total number of SAC registered players, only that the maximum numbers limited to Saturdays and Sundays must be respected.
It is now up to new chairman Graham Fothergill and his committees to continue the years ahead.
MUNICIPAL COURSES AND TUITION
The group lessons organised for beginners at Chevry II early in January 1980 continued throughout the year, succeeding groups flourishing well into 1981 which now included courses for our more advanced pupils. Interest started to tail off in April '81 when the numbers just weren't there to form new groups. This coincided with the knowledge that a young English pro living in Paris was available to give lessons at the SAC in the evenings. The idea seemed attractive, the SAC grounds were suitable, additional equipment could quickly be obtained and, when management and members agreed to the principle, the necessary arrangements were made.
Starting in May, lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays attracted sufficient numbers of players to keep both them and the pro seemingly happy.
Things struggled on until September when the pro rather suddenly left the Paris area. It had not been a very satisfactory arrangement, but one which was to be repeated two years later at the request of members. This time a French pro was engaged who lived in Meudon. It didn't seem possible at the time that history would repeat itself, but it did.
The Golf Committee did make some mistakes but could hardly be held responsible for the other coincidence which occurred in the early Summer of 1981. The enterprise which built and ran Chevry II moved out overnight leaving it abandoned. Within two months the course had reverted to meadowland with the grass a foot high. For reasons unknown to us, the situation was to last until early 1982 when notice was given that it would shortly be reopened and managed by the recently formed group known as SOGEL. Once again recruitment among our members led to more series of group lessons which started up in June.
The tendency, however, was for a nucleus of Section members to form themselves into what could be called the gang of Chevry faithfuls who enjoyed playing their golf in uncomplicated surroundings in between playing bridge at the SAC Amina Fahmy , since her election to the Golf Committee in 1984, has successfully managed this side of the Section's affairs and has guided many an SAC newcomer to the game in the direction of the Chevry II practice ranges.
This highly popular feature of the Golf Section was introduced in 1983, although plans for its conception were begun at committee level in late '82. It was thought then that as the Section 's activities were in no way restricted, the promotion of weekends to different clubs and locations at interesting terms was entirely feasible. Etretat was chosen as the first venue and arrangements and bookings were made for the 22-24 April 1983. This visit attracted 32 SAC members and friends and the golfing format adopted then and still applied today was to hold our own Stableford competition on the Saturday and participate in the host club's organised competition on the Sunday.
Since 1985 the Stableford competition has been contested for the Kiwi Cup, a handsome trophy donated to the Section for this purpose by Alan and Judy Kerr just prior to their return to New Zealand .
The success of this first weekend, a hilarious sequence of which is recorded on video, led to the institution of annual Spring and Autumn weekends. Besides Etretat (visited five times), other venues include Reims (three times), Hardelot (twice), Tours, La Bretesche (Brittany) and St. Gatien.
At the l0th Golf A.G .M. in February 1989, the present committee was elected:
Mr G. Fothergill - Chairman
Mrs A. Fahmy
Mrs G. Forrest
Mr I. Cully
Mr C. Jacques
Mr E. Lacey
Mr P. Miller
Mr P. Tormey
Mr J. Willatts
Two notable events took place in 1989. Pamela Constant and Isabel Wartelle have on separate occasions scored a Hole in One.
And moving into 1995, Pat Cully scored a Hole in One at the 9th on 18th Feb, her birthday with a new club (a present from husband Ian). Champers was left at the bar for their friends, who'd guzzled it all up by the time the Webmaster arrived.
And after many peaceful years, the Fothergill reign ended and a new era began with the election of Pam Constant as Chairman.
She reigned as the 20th century waned and navigated the Section surely into the 21st Century.
And so it came to pass on the 14th day of March, 2003, that by a unanimous expression of democratic electoral power, Pam was once again elected to watch over us for another year, ably assisted by her committee consisting of the following worthy souls: Peter Engelen, Malcolm Forrest, Sue Hall, Claude Jacques, Nigel Law, James Moore, Jas Saini and Maurice McCullough.
And lo, on the 26th day of March, 2004, Pam and her worthies (as before with Jas the Blessed being replaced by the Reverend Murphy) were reappointed for another year.
When Pam sadly passed away and moved to the great Golf Club in the sky on November 18th, 2012, the Club of office passed to Simon Murphy, who reigned over us for a while was able to forge even closer ties with Villarceaux, not least becuase of his duties as Treasurer of their Association Sportive. And it came to pass in the fullness of time that the presidential flame was passed to Sue Hall, who tended it well until the time came to pass the responsibility to Frédéric Thiriet.
(* The observant reader will have noted, possibly thankfully, that there are some gaps in this record, owing to the fact that many of the more vital manuscripts were used as scorecards during the great Paper shortage late last century.)