Len and Nora Butt – Ladies Captain, 1981

This is a transcription of a conversation Len and Nora had with Graham Lawrence on 29 November 2007.

Len first started playing golf at the Southampton Municipal golf course in the late 50’s.  He used to play nine holes on a Saturday afternoon and occasionally during the summer would play nine holes after work in the evenings.  A lot of Naval people played at Lee on Solent and a lot of  Vosper Thornycroft employees played at Corhampton in the early 60’s.  Vic Pickett, John Heathcote, Bill Shiner (who collapsed and died on the golf course) and Norman Taylor all worked for Vospers.  Vic Pickett, Len’s brother-in-law introduced Len to the club and Nora joined Corhampton about three weeks after Len. Len joined in 1963.  Frank Lindley, the secretary, spoke to Len, “Well Len, I hear you want to join the club. Well you know what it’s like here. You’ve been here.  It’s half way through the year now.  Do you want to join now or wait till the end of next year?”.  Len replied “I’d like to join now”.  Frank said “Well how about five bob”. That was Len’s joining fee and his first year’s subscription.  However, when Nora joined, a joining fee of £10 was paid.  In those days people worked longer hours so during the summer months it was difficult getting in nine holes after work during the week.  Len usually played on Saturday morning.  There was an unwritten rule that ladies did not play on Saturday mornings but they could play at any other time. Nora usually played on Saturday afternoons with Peggy Fletcher, Gladys Pickett (Len’s sister), Iris Heathcote, Mollie Henning and Gay Sjoberg.  Gay’s husband, Neil, worked at Fairthorne Manor and he was the person who started the golf course there. He started by building a few holes for the children.  They couldn’t play in the summer because the marquees had to go out. As the few holes proved to be so popular it was enlarged to a nine-hole golf course.

Once Nora was playing with Mollie Lindley and Mollie hit her ball into the bunker on the sixteenth.  They both saw the ball go into the bunker but they could not find it.  Where it disappeared to nobody knows.

On Sundays the ladies would take it in turn to make teas.  There was a lady, who lived by the 6th hole in Steynes Farm,  who made sponge cakes which she’d bring to the club house. A cup of tea and a slice of cake would cost us half a crown.  After tea, we’d all a take a number and go out and play nine more holes in a mixed competition with whoever we had been drawn with. There was a lovely atmosphere with lots of camaraderie.

At Steynes Farm they kept a parrot and it would occasionally fly over the golf course. Mike Lutman was a lovely old fellow and he was very accurate at forecasting the weather.  Mike was on the sixteenth green about to putt out when the parrot flew over squawking..  He was wearing his peaked hat as usual. He took it off and threw it, with a curse, at the parrot. The parrot didn’t fly away.

Bill Starkey, Denise’s father, was a very good winemaker and he would always bring up bottles of his wines for the raffles.  The bottles had foil tops and professional labels but what’s more, they tasted so good.

In the old club house we used to have a ladies Christmas party and a New Year’s party.  After the wooden spoon had been played for at the Captain’s drive-in the ladies would take food up to the club.  We’d all sit down and have a jolly good meal.  The ladies often provided the catering in those days. Nellie Reeves used to run the bar and would only open it if she thought people wanted to buy a drink.  Reg, Nellie’s husband, who was the groundsman/professional, always used to ask people “Have you got a fag?”  

Ron Crockford was the pro when we first started and he had a little shed to the side of the club house.  He didn’t keep a large stock but would always be happy to order what ever you wanted.  He’d always come out and tell you if your order was in when he saw you. As soon as your order had arrived he’d tell you.  You didn’t need to enquire each time you went to the club.  If you were on the green and Ron was cutting the grass he’d always tell you what you had done wrong with your shot.  He was giving you free lessons. It was very kind of him.

We used to play friendlies against other clubs like Lee-on-Solent,  Royal Winchester, Hockley, Waterlooville and Rowlands Castle but the favourite was Alresford  because Alresford was a nine-hole course and they said if you put Alresford and Corhampton together you’d have the best eighteen holes in Hampshire.  We used to be able to play Waterlooville for free on particular days and they could also play for free at Corhampton but all that’s stopped now.

When Nora was ladies captain she was given £50 by the club but it didn’t go very far.  She still had to buy most of the prizes. There aren’t any photos of Nora’s captain’s day available.  They are all on slides up in their attic.

Nora knitted three woollen toys to be auctioned for ladies captain’s charities – Val Flint’s, Ann Corden’s and Ivy Phillips’.  Just over £700 pounds was raised from the auctioning of Nora’s woollen toys.

Len and Nora still play golf at Corhampton but usually only nine holes.

Christmas celebration in the club’s dining room, Jean Hounsham, Harry Cope and Len Butt at the right, Rita Elly at the left

At the Curzon Rooms in Waterlooville, Vic Pickett is standing behind Nora and to his left is Len – at the right are Gladys Pickett, Alf Pearce and his wife

At the top table are Jim Johnston, Maureen and Fred Hartwell – at the front are Nora Butt and George Philips

Christmas in the old Clubhouse, Len Butt, Michael Dunne, George Smith’s wife, Nora, Mrs Browning and John Browning

Connie and Peter Taylor, Gordon and Florence Johnson, Freda Wilson, Arthur Dovey, Vic Wilson and Lillian Dovey

Dave Sparshatt, Betty Johnston, Joane Buchanan, Andy Buchanan, Liz and Ian Borrow, Jim Johnston and Julia Sparshatt

Freda Wilson, Nora Butt, Gladys Pickett, and Jean Young close to the eighteenth green

Gerry and Monica Bowler, Diane Gibson, Dave and Masie Meadus, Terry Dominy and Ray Gibson

Gladys Pickett, Jean Young, Ethel Hale and Nora Butt

Ivy and George Phillips, Nora Butt and Tony Gibson at the Centenary Ball – 1991

Ivy Phillips, Leo and Betty Verrico, George Phillips, Jean Hounsham, Ted Leggett, Jerry Hounsham and Vera Leggett

Jessie Neville, Betty Johnston, Ann Elliot, Diane Gibson and Nora Butt on Diane’s Captain’s day – 1994

Joan Haigh presenting Nora Butt with the Elizabeth West Eclectic Trophy – 1

Len Butt playing down the old sixth, now the tenth

Len Butt teeing off the eighteenth with Gladys and Vic Pickett

Margaret and Tony McDonald, Nora Butt, Jim Yeates, Mary and Keith Collins, Pat Yeates

Mary Collins presenting Nora Butt with a prize on Mary’s Captain’s day – 1999

Mollie Henning presenting Nora Butt with the Fletcher Trophy – 1973

Nora and Len Butt with Tony Gibson at the Centenary Ball – 1991

Nora and the golfer she knitted for Val Flint’s Charity – 1995

Nora Butt and Terry Dominy at the Christmas Celebration

Nora Butt, Tony Gibson, Heather Gibson and Ray Gibson at the Centenary Ball – 1991

Pam Reed, Jean Young and Nora Butt on the first tee

Pam Reed, Mary Collins, Nora Butt and Ann Curtis on the first tee – 1999

Pam Reed, Nora Butt, Jean Young and Betty Johnston on Betty’s Captain’s day – 1990

Ray and Diane Gibson at the Centenary Ball – 1991

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