01 Feb Goldfinger
007 – James Bond
Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond novels and an fervant golfer, had Royal St. George’s, host to 14 Open Championships, as the stage for the match between Bond and Auric Goldfinger in the 1959 novel “Goldfinger.”
A Caddies Story
You hear some great stories at golf clubs and some of the best are from caddies. One such caddie, Shawn at Royal St. George’s first worked at the club when he was a lad, before going off for 30 years to travel the world with The Navy.
On his return he took up the role as Caddiemaster at the club and one of his first jobs was for a past acquaintance, a gentleman named Mr Blofeld who remembered Shawn carrying his bag 30 years before.
Other names you may hear within the club walls – Drax & Scaramanga may ring a bell as well.
It Couldn’t Be Anywhere Else
In Fleming’s book the club is thinly disguised as the fictional “Royal St. Mark’s.” But it is unmistakably Royal St. George’s, lauded as “the greatest seaside golf course in the world,”
Fleming’s association with Royal St. George’s began soon after his secret service days in 1948 when he would make the dash down to Sandwich in his Ford Thunderbird after writing his column for The Times and having lunch in Piccadilly, to play a quick nine holes before tea – Fleming maintained a houses in Sandwich and St. Margaret’s Bay over these years.
Fleming’s account of the first hole — “four hundred and fifty yards of undulating fairway with one central bunker to trap a mis-hit second shot and a chain of bunkers guarding three-quarters of the green to trap a well-hit one”
From Goldfinger: “The tenth at the Royal St Marks is the most dangerous hole on the course. The second shot, to the skiddy plateau green with cavernous bunkers to right and left and a steep hill beyond, has broken many hearts”
The 15th – “two smashing woods will just get you over the line of bunkers that lie right up against the green” – there is such detail given by Fleming about the course that anyone who knows the links well could ever doubt the resemblance.
Bond wields a hickory-shafted Calamity Jane putter and asks club professional Arthur Blacking for four Penfold Hearts (007’s preffered brand of golf ball). The actual name of the Sandwich professional at the time was Arthur Whiting
Fleming, who seemed to live the Bond lifestyle — consuming two packs of Morland Specials a day and not shy of his vodka martinis — passed away at the age of 56. He was captain-elect of the Royal St. George’s Golf Club at the time.