This is a transcription of a conversation Mollie had with Graham Lawrence on 19 November 2007.
I had an operation in 1964 which involved cutting me down my back and the doctor told me, as part of my recovery, to take some exercise. Where I worked at Montague Meyers in Southampton Docks nearly all the reps and the boss played golf and when they came into the office they would always talk about golf. We always watched it on the television, whenever it came on, my husband and I. I didn’t know whether I would get into it or not but I did need to exercise. One of the reps in the office (he was only little, like me) said he’d just bought a new set of golf clubs and asked me if I’d like to borrow his old set. He said I could have them for as long as I liked. So I went up the ‘Muni’ and played on the nine hole golf course. The next day I took the clubs back to the office and the rep said “Don’t you like them then?”. I replied “I’ve got my own, thanks very much”. I’d bought myself a half set and a bag and I spent hours up there practising. I had some lessons. I couldn’t afford to join a golf club at the time. I enjoyed it. I played golf whilst my husband supported Southampton Football Club. I joined the ladies club and got to like it and got quite good.
Then I met Jenny Jenkins who played at the ‘Muni’ and she told me she’d joined Corhampton. She took me up as a guest one weekend. It only had nine holes then. We were on the third tee which used to be close to the bushes at the back of the ninth green. It was only a par three then. Jenny said “You won’t get on the green so you might as well drive otherwise we’ll be holding up the people behind us”. I took my 4 wood out and drove. I drove onto the green. “Ooh”, she said, “There’s somebody down there on the green”. Jenny told me who they were. There were four of them – Frank Lindley and Fred Banting were two of then. Frank Lindley was the Secretary at the time. So I said to Jenny that we must hurry up down to the green and apologise. When I got down there I said “Gentlemen, I’m ever so sorry I drove through. I was told I wouldn’t reach the green. Can I join the club?”. After the round Frank gave me an application form and I joined the club. It cost me about £8 and that included my joining fee. From the day I joined I really enjoyed being a club member.
We became very friendly with Fred and Eileen Banting. We used to spend a lot of time at the Bantings’ home in Hambledon. It was like a second home to us. We also went on holiday with them. I remember going down to Cornwall with the Hartwells and the Bantings. Fred and Maureen used to drive down with their children and we’d all meet up when we got down there. We holidayed together for several years.
Corhampton was just a weekend course then. Nobody lived near it. People worked during the week and only played at the weekends. You very seldom saw anyone playing during the daytime in the week. At the weekends that little clubhouse became very crowded when there was a competition on or a presentation. If you fainted you wouldn’t fall over. There were enough people to keep you upright. I used to play all day at the weekends. I got down to a 4 handicap at one time but soon fell back. I stayed around somewhere between 9 and 12. When I gave up playing regularly I was playing off 12. After we’d stopped playing in a ladies competition, which always took place on a Sunday, we’d go into the club house and have our tea. Nellie Reeves used to make the cakes. For half a crown you’d buy a big slice of sponge cake (filled with cream and topped with icing) and a cup of tea. After, when it was dark, two or three members would get into their cars, park them behind the first tee and shine the headlights down the first fairway. We’d go out as a big crowd, up to sixteen of us, and all knock a ball down the fairway. We’d come in and then half a dozen of us would go for a meal in Waterlooville. I remember one night we all went to a Chinese. Fred Banting and I didn’t like Chinese so we’d sit on a separate table and eat English food whilst the others ate their Chinese meal. My husband liked Chinese so I would pick all his prawns out and take them back to my table.
I was on the ladies committee and they used to choose the captain from one of the committee. There was a choice between Jenny Jenkins and myself in 1972. Jenny was going to go to America in 1974 so they asked if I would wait a year. I became captain in 1973. I had a lot of fun. We didn’t have any money from the club in those days. All captains had to pay their own way. We had to buy all the prizes for our competitions.
I’ll never forget Ron Crockford. I was playing at what was then the ninth. It’s now the eighteenth. I was just short of the green. There used to be a ridge and I was just short of that. I got out a nine iron to chip over the little low ridge. Ron said “What you got that out for? I could throw it round your neck. Get a seven out”. I said “What for?”. “Just chip it” he said and I did and he was quite right. He told me “Don’t you ever get a lofted club out again when you are that close to the green. Just use you your seven iron and chip it a bit and you’ll get a better run.” I learnt a lot from the pros. I was a member of Hockley and I learnt a lot from George Matthews there. He used to tell me “Put that club away. You don’t need that”. In the end I got myself a little chipper and that did the trick for me. I was never very good with a lofted club until later on.
My husband, Harold, did join the club eventually. He said if he couldn’t beat them he had to join them so he did in 1968. He wasn’t very good. He played off 24. Harold played with Vic Pickett, Len Butt and another, especially on a Sunday when the ladies had their competitions. He enjoyed it, went in for all the competitions, but never lowered his handicap. During his latter days when he was ill and it was captain’s day they would put a lounger out by the little hut by the tenth. He’d talk to all the players as they came round. That was in 1987.
When Bert Keefe was captain he asked if I would do his raffle on his captain’s day and I said I would. He wanted me to get all the prizes and nominate the charity. I’m very keen on Helen House, a children’s hospice in Oxford. I’d often done the raffles before that but Bert made it official that I did the raffle on captain’s day. Over the year’s I raised more than £35,000 for charity. We collected about £6,000 on Bert’s captain’s day. I organized charity raffles on occasions other than captain’s days. We had a medieval night and I ran a raffle. I was told I’d get a fiver if I took Jim Yeate’s trousers off. He had a pair of silvery grey lamé trousers on. We had a tussle on the floor and I got my fiver for the raffle. He’ll never forget that. That night was very popular.
I had a salver presented to me at a dinner at Botleigh Park in 1993 just before I stopped playing regularly. Different captains have given me little presents over the years. I stopped playing in the early 90’s. I’m an honorary member now.
At Kimbells in Southsea
Mollie is sitting at the back under the curtain.
Going round the table anti-clockwise from her are her husband, Harold, Jenny Jenkins, Nora Butt,
Len Butt, Gladys Pickett, Vic Pickett, and Ron Crockford
Betty Johnson, Mollie Henning and Jim Yeates at the Medieval Night – 1991
Bill Clarke, John Harris and Mollie Henning – 1988
The colour version of the picture below.
This was the outcome of one of Mollie’s many collections for charity
Bill Clarke, John Harris, Mollie Henning, Doctor from Queen Alexander Hospital
The cheque was for £1000. The photograph was taken on 8 October 1988
Andy Buchanan,Bill Starkey, Jo Jo Buchanan
Joan Haigh on the first tee
Ladies in the clubhouse
Joan Haigh, Gladys Pickett, Jean Young and Ethel Hale in the clubhouse
Liz Borrow, Mollie Henning and Helen Keefe receiving a trophy
Margaret Collins, Jane Lawrence, Allan Deuchar, Sue Bittles, Joan Haigh on the first tee Lady Captain’s day
Mollie Henning and Stella Wright in the clubhouse having fun
Mollie Henning, Liz Borrow, Ivy Phillips and Betty Johnson and at Bowood Manor
The first tee and the building of the new club house in 1974
Trish Harvey, Bob Harvey, Gary Stubbington, Mollie Henning
This photograph was taken on the 18th green during the centenary week. Mollie caddied for Gary for the whole day but she did have a buggy to help her get around. When they got to the hole by the road Gary asked Mollie which club should he use. Mollie responded that she thought he was the professional. She suggested a seven iron which he used and chipped up very near to the hole. Gary then said that Mollie should be the pro instead of himself. After that hole Mollie frequently selected the club he should use.
Mollie Henning’s Captain’s Day – 1973
Back Row – Left to Right: Peggy Linnell, Joan Haigh, Iris Heathcote, Norah Wilson, Kay Smith, Nora Butt, Peggy Fletcher, Aileen Blanchard, Jessy Lutman, Twink Bunce, Gladys Pickett, Daphne Jacobs (hiding behind the tray), Faith Pike, Linda Fletcher
Front Row: Left to Right: Mollie Henning, Eileen Banting