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Walton Heath

This club is famous for… the captain who was a King

Clubs these days boast about having all kinds of celebrity members but, in England, only Walton Heath can say they had a reigning monarch in charge
 

Who are the only English club to have had a reigning King as their captain?

Edward VIII was the man who gave up his throne for the woman he loved. But Wallis Simpson wasn’t his only passion.

The King of England was also a hugely enthusiastic golfer. A single-figure handicapper, who first played when he was 13, he’d been urged to try something more sedate after his mother, Queen Mary, leaned on him to give up steeplechasing and hunting.

Edward was far from the only British monarch to have shown an interest in fairways and greens.

The game’s Royal connections stretch back to James IV and Mary Queen of Scots. But, when he was crowned in 1936, he was serving as captain at Walton Heath.

It has been said Edward first came to Walton Heath to get lessons from James Braid.

It’s no surprise the heir showed some promise if he could lean on the skills of a five-time Open champion. I bet they were unbeatable in a betterball.

walton heath

We all know the tenure of a club captain is brief, usually only a single year, but no one expected Edward to have applied that to his reign as sovereign. He lasted just under 11 months in the job.

It’s hard to top a King when it comes to the celebrity roll of honour but, at this most wonderful stretch of golfing land in Surrey, he was far from the only prestigious former member of the club.

The club was the home of the Parliamentary Golfers Society and four Prime Ministers all played at Walton Heath – David Lloyd George, Andrew Bonar Law, Arthur Balfour and Winston Churchill.

The latter was a club member from 1910 until his death in 1965.

Those British leaders chose well, with almost 90 amateur and professional events having been held over the two championship courses of the Old and New, including five European Opens and the Ryder Cup in 1981.

Walton Heath most recently held the British Masters, won by Eddie Pepperell, in 2018.

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