The wartime rules at Richmond took playing as it lies to a new level.
“A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty one stroke.”
The members weren’t going to let the Luftwaffe get in the way of a good round.
As bombs rained down on London, with the capital under siege from Hitler’s air force during the Blitz, members at the Surrey club laid down rules explaining exactly what they should do if the Nazis attacked while they were holing out.
It all started in the late autumn of 1940 when a bomb fell on an outbuilding belonging to the club.
With the threat of an air raid ever present, the club produced seven edicts – designed to cater for every possible circumstance.
What do you think Bubba Watson and company would make of these today?
Richmond Golf Club
Temporary Rules 1940
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 at a 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 by 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.
Causing a storm
If the rules were put together slightly with tongue placed in cheek – after all it’s a bit harsh to be penalised for hitting a shank as a bomb goes off – it had the effect of enraging the German high command.
William Joyce, the much-ridiculed Lord Haw-Haw, who sent Nazi propaganda over the airwaves into British homes, made the Richmond rules the theme of a broadcast.
He ranted: “By means of these ridiculous reforms the English snobs try to impress the people with a kind of pretended heroism. They can do so without danger, because, as everyone knows, the German Air Force devotes itself only to the destruction of military targets and objectives of importance to the war effort.”
Who knew the club’s laundry would be such an important target?