The President’s Putter, which ended at Rye Golf Club in East Sussex, in the bottom right-hand corner of England, last Sunday, is a golf event of low importance but high significance. Its importance in life’s grand scheme is low is because it is a match-play competition only for members of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society who, while being very august and decidedly brainy, compose a fraction of Britain’s amateur golfers. And many of whom went to Britain’s public schools which, Britain being Britain where you mustn’t say what you mean though you must mean what you say, means the public schools were actually private.
But its significance? Now that is another matter altogether. It is as high as the sky. It is significant because it is fun. “It’s a wonderful competition – for those who play in it,” said Peter Dawson, the past chief executive of the R&A. “Golf would be better if there were more competitions that shared its characteristics.”
It is eccentric, taking place just after New Year, often when Britain’s weather is just turning really cold and frankly, the colder the better. One year a competitor wore three pairs of socks, underwear, pyjamas, trousers, rain trousers, a heavy shirt, six sweaters, two scarves, two pairs of gloves and a balaclava. Right on cue last week, the barometer plummeted.
The Society was formed in 1898, which makes it younger than the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge first held in 1829, the rugby match between the two universiti...
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