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Golf: The Hitler Cup and Staying Home

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Contributor:
Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

“The last time golf was played in the Olympics many of the best players stayed at home and the game's followers were split into two camps as to whether it was a good thing the sport was part of the festivities.”

Derek Lawrenson’s headline reads, “Golf and the Olympics have never gone hand in hand... how Adolf Hitler was humiliated by battling Brits,” and advises us that not for the first time good golfers chose to go to the Olympics.

The Brits didn’t bother going
Derek writes, “Yes, an awful lot may have changed in the past 112 years, but, as a fascinating new book points out, when it comes to the Royal and Ancient sport and its troubled relationship with the Olympics, an awful lot has remained the same...If you think this year's men's competition is devalued somewhat by the well-documented absence of the top four, consider that in 1904 in St Louis not one of the leading British players of the day could be bothered making the trip, with the field of 80 men comprising 77 Americans and three Canadians.

The Berlin Games of 1936

Given that golf wasn’t big in Germany at that time and the likelihood of a German gold in golf it seems odd that Hitler was so very keen to have the game included at the Olympics. And when the Olympic Committee chose not to include golf, Hitler “organised his own tournament at Baden-Baden — complete with his own, personally gifted trophy — that was an Olympic event in all but name as far as the Germans were concerned. Flags were raised at the opening ceremony and at the trophy presentation; anthems were played and medals presented. The winners were even given fir trees in a mirror of the Berlin Games which saw each gold medallist receive an oak.”

Pride of place and the place for a pee

For many years the whereabouts of the Hitler Trophy was unknown. What was known is that it was won by the Brits and one of them was Arnold Bentley whose home course was Hesketh Golf Club, near Southport. Fortunately it was found and it’s today proudly displayed in the clubhouse.
Derek writes,  “So does Bentley's prize of a fir tree, planted within sight of the clubhouse and which has thrived, despite members from long ago forsaking the toilets on occasion to underline their loathing of the German dictator with their own watery ritual.”

Here’s the link to Derek

Quote of the Day
"It is hard to explain the origin of the event - Germany had no golfing tradition nor champions, and only 50 golf courses,"  - George Jeanneau of the French Golf Federation

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