The Game Must Go On

War is disruptive to the everyday lives of people who live in the belligerent nations. This is obvious and arguably a truism. In World War II, for example, wartime rationing was the norm, affecting nearly every consumer product in countries on both sides. But some people resolved to move forward, adapting to battle along the way. Just ask the prorpietors of the England’s Richmond Golf Club, located just a few miles from London.

In July of 1940, the Nazi Luftwaffe began a campaign to control the air space above Britain, using nearly 2,000 planes in this effort. The Luftwaffe‘s strategy involved the bombing of locations throughout the area, including but not limited to London and surrounding neighborhoods. The bombing continued through October of that year, with the Royal Air Force successfully defending its homeland; on the 13th of October, Hitler decided to end the bombing with an eye on revisiting it the next spring. (The bombing never resumed.)

Richmond Golf Club was close enough to London to suffer from these attacks. Having a round of golf interrupted by a round of bombs seemed likely, but the Club would not stand for war being anything more than inconvenience. That is, golfers played on. To do so, though, they needed special rules — imagine having your ball blown up by a bomb? — so the Club obliged, posting the following addenda and adjustments to the normal rules of the game:

1. Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.

2. In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.

3. The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags placed at reasonably, but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom.

4. Shrapnel and/or bomb splinters on the Fairways, or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.

5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.

6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole without penalty.

7. A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty, one stroke.

Whether the golf course was ever itself attacked is unknown, but regardless, they were prepared to continue forward.

Bonus fact: Many U.S. presidents have been avid golfers, but none more so than Woodrow Wilson, who apparently played more than 1,000 rounds of golf during his eight years in the Oval Office. He was such an addict that during the winter, he’d have the Secret Service paint his golf balls black so he could see them in the snow.

From the ArchivesThe Greatest Thing Since 1928: A casualty of war, briefly.

Related: Bombs + golf = this.

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