This is a transcription of a conversation David had with Graham Lawrence on 19 December 2005.
I lived in Australia from just after the war till I started secondary education. My father was helping the Australians to re-train their air force. I used to swim and play cricket. My brother, Barry, at the age of 8 played for Victoria State under-elevens. I played for Victoria State but I was nearly the right age to play for them. I went to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and watched Brian Close and David Sheppard play for England, each at the age of 18. I’ve got an autograph book with the complete Australian side in it.
Now here’s a coincidence. I went to Wembley to watch the Olympics in 1948 and bought a magazine called “The Post'”. On the front of it were pictures of three American black athletes and a white man who was proclaimed as the fastest white man in the world having come fourth in the 100m. Several years later I applied for a job with McCorquodales in London. I went for an interview as a trouble-shooter along with many others. I was introduced to Alistair McCorquodale and I said I seen his picture before and I described how I’d seen his picture on the front of the magazine. We had a long chat on athletics and he asked me when I could begin work. I asked about all the others waiting to be interviewed and he told me he seen and heard enough to make up his mind. I started on the following Monday.
My main sport was athletics. I was a pole-vaulter. I went to the All-England Schools sports meeting at Belle Vue stadium, Manchester in 1955 and came second. Don Revie presented me with the prizes.
David Searle Pole Vaulting
I went to Plymouth the following year representing the Hampshire schools. I went on to win the Hampshire Junior, the Hampshire Youth and the Hampshire Championships as a pole-vaulter. My brother Barry was the Hampshire Champion javelin thrower so the pair of us used to travel around together to many meetings. I used to play football for Bitterne Nomads in the Hampshire League. Barry was a better footballer than I was. He played in the Southern League but there wasn’t much money in football. You could get paid about £7 a week if you played. My main interest was athletics and then football. I remember saying to one of the lads who was a very good golfer, he was a 4 handicapper, “If you ever catch me playing golf you’ve got my permission to hit me on the head”. There was no way I was going to play golf. To me golf was a slow individual game whereas I was used to a fast competitive sport which required quick reactions. Although golf is competitive it takes a long time to play it.
I was introduced to the club by Bill Wilson and Mike Lutman because they lived in the same village of Burridge as I did. I only started playing golf when my legs went on me. I could have taken up fishing or bowls but decided on golf. I started playing golf in 1971 but I only joined the club at the end of 1974. Ron Crockford was the pro then. When I started I had six lessons with John Harris and I won the first competition I entered and got a silver spoon for it. I shot about 12 over on a 24 handicap so I was cut. I came down to a 6 handicap eventually. About five or six years ago I was captain of the county sevens and also captain of the Marston’s over 55s team. I have had several operations and now my handicap is 17. It is very frustrating playing at 17 when I remember how well I used to play off 6. My brother still had a handicap of 6 when he died. He was so well liked that they have planted a tree in his memory at the Hampshire County Golf Club.
I came on committee in 1977. Alan Haigh asked me when he was captain. I was on the House and Bar committee and because I didn’t do the job absolutely properly, John Wright put me in charge of latrines. I’ve made a bit of progress at the club since then. In 1980 Len Scott resigned as vice-captain and Bob Goble, a very good friend of mine asked if I would help out which I did. In November of 1980 I became the captain of the golf club.
In 1982, Harry Lewis resigned as a trustee of the club and asked me to become a trustee, so I became an acting trustee and was elected as a trustee in 1983. There have always been four trustees of the club. When one trustee resigns the other three select a replacement and, if the executive committee approve the candidate, their name is then put to the vote at the next AGM. The four original trustees in 1972 were Fred Banting, Harry Lewis, Frank Lindley, and Bob Linnell. The trustees were responsible for all the land owned by the club When John Wright became president of the club it was decided that the president should also be a trustee so John Wright became a trustee in 1984. After that Fred Hartwell was invited to become a trustee when he became president in 1988. Then there was Tom Prentice, Gordon Jackson, Derek Williams, Barry Butler, and Keith Collins.
I was a member of the Hampshire Alliance for about twenty years. I’m a member of the Hampshire Patrons, who do a lot for junior golf. I’m a member of the Hampshire Captains which is a bit like a gentlemen’s club. I think the Hampshire Captains was the first society of its type consisting of a county’s golf captains.
I’ve been on every committee except the Finance Committee. Several years ago the captain used to be the figure head of the club but after a few financial problems it was decided that the club needed to be organised as a properly run business. Gradually over the years we’ve developed a constitution and so now the captain no longer runs the business side of the club although he is our figure head. The trustees oversee the executive committee on behalf of the members so that nothing detrimental to the club can happen. For example when the new holes were being constructed the executive committee decided to sell off a portion of the land but this had not been put to the members so the trustees objected to the proposition without its having first been put to the members.
I played in many of the Pro-Ams which Bob Harvey and Gordon Jackson had started. All the holes were sponsored with boards around them. George Davis and his partner Norman Francis of Meon Valley Metals used to sponsor a lot of the holes. They put a lot of money into golf. In 1982, Nick Holmes, the captain of Southampton Football Club, and also a member of Corhampton Golf Club, asked me if he would hold a Pro-Am at Corhampton as part of his testimonial year. The committee agreed. Tottenham Hotspurs had played Southampton on the previous evening and so several of their players entered for the event on 4 May 1983. There were also celebrities like Jimmy Tarbuck and Kenny Lynch. Howard Kendall, manager of Everton had sent a large donation. I remember seeing Jimmy Tarbuck in John Harris’s golf shop. John had a lot of influence amongst the footballers as he had played for Arsenal as an apprentice. When I first joined the club I remember John Harris used to take a bunch of us 24 handicappers to Wentworth where John had been an assistant. We could play cheaply, thanks to John. He used to play us all off scratch for a fiver. We always had a good time.