The “temporary” rules for those playing golf at the club in Surrey, UK when England was under constant attack from Hitler’s Luftwaffe during World War II included provisions for picking up shrapnel that might interfere with their shots, replaying shots taken when explosions hit, and taking cover from bombs without being penalized.
“Temporary” rules for playing golf at Richmond Golf Club in Surrey, UK, during World War II that have re-emerged nearly 80 years later, after the release of an historic photograph archive, reveal how golfers at that club refused to let Hitler’s Luftwaffe interrupt their games, even as bombs fell on their course, the London Daily Mail reported.
The rules included guidance on how players could pick up shrapnel, replay a shot if an explosion hit and take cover from the bombs without being handed a penalty, the Daily Mail reported.
More than 1,000 bombs were dropped on Richmond between October 7, 1940 and June 6, 1941, the Daily Mail reported, with several hitting the golf club property. One destroyed a laundry used by the club, as the German Luftwaffe turned its attention from targeting RAF airfields to attacking London and other major cities towards the end of the Battle of Britain.
While the Battle of Britain raged overhead in 1940 and gallant young Royal Air Force pilots took on the might of the Luftwaffe to turn the course of the war, the rules committee at Richmond GC issued the special temporary rules for the club’s members, the Daily Mail reported. They included provisions that shrapnel could be removed without penalty if it was in the way of a player, and that while delayed-action bombs were marked out by red flags, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that play was guaranteed to be a safe distance away.
The German high command was so enraged by the golf club rules that they featured them in a propaganda broadcast designed to mock the English, the Daily Mail reported. “By means of these ridiculous reforms the English snobs try to impress the people with a kind of pretended heroism,” the broadcast said. “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 rules that were unearthed with the archive of photographs will now be displayed at the club, which was founded in 1891, the Daily Mail reported. “People wonder if it was a spoof, but it’s not,” said General Manager John McGuire. “There may have been a war on, but the members were determined that a few German bombs were not going to put them off their round of golf.”
The complete list of wartime rules issued by Richmond GC read as follows:
- Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the Mowing Machines
- In Competitions during gunfire or while bombs are falling players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play
- The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags at reasonable but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom
- Shrapnel and or bomb splinters on the Fairway or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally
- A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced or if lost or destroyed a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without a penalty
- A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole, without penalty
- A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may replay another ball from the same place. Penalty one stroke