Date: June 28, 2016
Author: The Australian Golf Heritage Society

Q and A Golf History DZ Ed. No. 96

Answers to Previous Questions

Question #1:  What made the Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne an exceptionally proud club in 1954?

Answer:  In 1954 Doug Bachli won the Amateur at Muirfield. He was the first Australian to win the Amateur (not forgetting Australian-born Walter Travis, who was an American citizen when he won in 1904). In 1954 Peter Thomson won the Open at Royal Birkdale. He was the first Australian to win the Open. Both Bachli and Thomson were members of the Victoria Golf Club. Not many clubs can boast of two members, each a winner of one of golf’s major trophies in the same year.

Bachli won by 2 & 1 in the 36 hole final against the experienced favourite, American Bill Campbell. Thomson was only 23 years old when he won by one shot from Bobby Locke, Dai Rees and Syd Scott.

Question #2: Who is the man in the portrait?

Answer. The man in the portrait is Henry Callender in the golfing uniform of Captain General of Royal Blackheath in London. Royal Blackheath can trace its origins back to 1766. Callender was a prominent member of the Club. He was the Secretary: 1783 to 1790, 1796 to 1800, 1802 and 1805. He was Captain in 1790, 1801 and 1807. On the occasion of his third captaincy in 1807 he was given the special title of Captain General as a gesture of the high regard in which he was held by the Club. A Captain of Royal Blackheath is entitled to one epaulette. A Captain General has two, as in the portrait. The highest office at Royal Blackheath is Field Marshal, roughly equivalent to President in a modern golf club. A Field Marshall is also entitled to two epaulettes.

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Early golf portraits are very rare. Consequently the portrait of Henry Callender is quite famous. Royal Blackheath plays on Crown land. For some time the Club has had ambitions to acquire the freehold. To raise funds the Club made the decision to sell the portrait. In December 2015 it was sold at Bonhams, London, for a hammer price of £722,500 (about 1.4 million Australian dollars).

Early 19th Century putters were almost uniquely of the wooden-headed long-nosed variety. The metal headed putter in the portrait is very unusual. Royal Blackheath had in its museum a similar putter considered to be the very one in the portrait. It sold at the same auction for £62,500 (about 120,000 Australian dollars).


Questions for the Next Issue:

  1. How many majors did Australian-born Jim Ferrier win?
  2. For many years there was no effort to standardise the size and weight of a golf ball. When were these golf ball characteristics first standardised by the ruling bodies

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