This is a transcription of a conversation Jim Watson had with Graham Lawrence on 29 November 2005.
The Watsons farmed in Mislingford and their friends the Parretts farmed in Kingsmead, both places near Wickham. One day I went with Sidney Parrett on one of those family outings to Hayling Island. Sidney told me he was going to play golf and asked if I’d like to go with him whilst the others went to the beach. So off we went to the golf course. The pros name was Smith. Sidney had his clubs but I didn’t have a stick so Smith said he’d set me up. He came out with this bag. There was a spoon in there, about three irons and a putter. Off we went with a few balls. I had a reasonable eye because I used to play most sports, tennis, cricket and football. We got to one hole at Hayling, the Widow, and I managed to get the ball up there and Sidney didn’t so from then on my interest in golf escalated.
I joined the club in 1951 when I was 32. I paid £3-13-6 to become a member.
Jim Watson’s subs receipt
A stub from Jim Watson’s cheque book
I remember Reg Reeves, Erne Silvester, the three Clarkes ( Horace, Reg and Rodney) and Dr Mitchell. He had a dog which would collect balls and he would sell them to the professional, Bert Dedman. I remember taking my eldest daughter, Sally, up there to have a practice hit. Bert Dedman asked me what my daughter was going to do while I practised. I said she’d just walk round with me. Bert went and got a hickory shafted club. It was called a mashie. He chopped the shaft off and she used to knock around with it. What a sacrilege it would be today! Years went on and they started a golf society at Sam’s Hotel, Shedfield. They wanted a trophy for the president. I produced this hickory shafted club. Ray Penny, the landlord of Sam’s Hotel, tarted up the metal work and it was used as the president’s trophy all the time the society lasted. I eventually got it back and my daughter now has it in Canada.
After I joined Corhampton, Sidney and I used to go up there quite often and I played with the same old bag of clubs. One day John Newbury gave me a brassie, that’s a two-wood, I think. He said he couldn’t use it. I got on very well with that and that’s all I played with. I shall never forget one day many years later in the seventies we had a lesson down at the Meon Valley with Peter Green. We were all lined up and we were hitting balls and a head came off. Peter said to me “Whatever are you playing with?” They turned out to be ladies irons that I’d been playing with all those years.
I used to play a lot with Sid Parrett. We got in a four ball with Edgar Andrews and Cecil MacNeil. We used to play for two shillings. The losers would pay the others two shillings. We paid 6d for a birdie. We lost every time. My handicap was 24 and we continued to play them but we lost every time.
Bert Dedman used to do all the work on the course. The clubhouse was just an ordinary wooden hut with the professional’s hut on one end. It was about 10 foot square. The cricket pavilion was between the second green and the third tee. The mowers were kept in a shed not far from the clubhouse down a track.
My handicap went from 24 to 19 to 16 and I finished up on 13. The nineteenth hole was a scream. Reg Reeves had a one-arm bandit. It was only about a foot wide and a foot tall. It was always going wrong. Reg’s idea was to make money for the club but it was for ever going wrong. Eventually they replaced it with another one.
On one occasion there was a competition at Corhampton and I was drawn against Ernst Silvester. He played off a 9 or 10 handicap. We had to select a day to play. It was one of those days when nothing would go wrong. I had an astronomical score. We got round to the fourth tee. I was first to drive. I drove over those trees absolutely perfect. I took that spoon out and I hit it and it got on the green for two and I got a four. We played some more holes and I did quite well. We got to the seventh, the little short one. By this time Erne had had enough and he said he couldn’t put up with this any more. I asked him if he wanted to go in but he said he’d continue to walk round with me as I was doing so well. I went down the eight and did well. I got a bit disconsolate with his attitude and didn’t do that well on the second nine. We used to play the nine holes twice.
I won the President’s Trophy in 1954. Valentine was captain then and presented me with the larger version of that cup. Mr Valentine had a fish and chip shop in Fareham. I used to play with Bunce and Shiner in another four ball. I remember playing with Bunce and Shiner one Sunday. We started off from the first tee and I hit the ball off the heel of my club. There was a bunker at the back of the ninth green. They’d all driven off and Bill Shiner, who was a character, started laughing which was not good etiquette when someone has played a duff shot. I looked at the ball in the bunker. I got my old spoon out, and swiped it right down through the gap. I put the next shot on the green. After all their fun and games I won the hole for us. We had a lot of fun up there.
We used to play a lot of matches. We went to Goodwood and on the way back half a dozen of us stopped at the Seven Stars at Stroud, near Petersfield. Horace Clarke always used to take cream crackers and cheese in a biscuit tin. We were sitting in the pub and Horace got his tin out and he was spreading his Stilton on the biscuits and was handing them round to the other customers and to us. Erne Silvester took one and said to me “Pinch them hard and don’t let them get out”. The cheese was full of maggots. Horace used to bring the cheese from his shop in Droxford after it had passed its sell-by date to get rid of it.
One day when I was with Erne Silvester, his son Dave (he was about sixteen), had arrived on a motor bike with a twelve bore gun across his lap. He’d come to ask his father for some money. He was sat astride the bike when a pigeon flew over. He picked the gun up and shot the pigeon. After a bit of arguing his father gave him 10/- and he drove off.
Four of us, Horace Clarke, Roly Higgins, Sidney Parrett and myself often went off for the day. Once we were playing at Bramshaw and we ended up striking matches at the end of the day to find the ball. We played 45 holes that day. We played at Alton, Bohunt, Goodwood , Waterlooville, in fact all over the place. Bohunt is an artisan club at Liphook. There was also a club at Liphook for the aristocracy. There were two guys there who were both scratch golfers. One chap’s name was Enticknap. Sidney and I got drawn against them. They were a couple of rough ratcatchers. They started off as caddies on the other course and joined the artisan club when it opened
The Jim Watson Trophy
Jim Watson’s miniature of the President’s Trophy (3in tall) which he won in 1954