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Hesketh Golf Club

Posted by Lisa Marie on Mar 26, 2024 4:00:00 AM

England, the birthplace of Golf, is home to some of the world's most prestigious courses

Among them, the Hesketh Golf Club

In 1885, Southport, an English town located forty-five minutes' drive north of Liverpool, saw its first golf club open: the Hesketh Golf Club.

Hesketh Golf Club copy-2
Hesketh Golf Club on the map

Among the Club's members, were the most famous golfing brothers in England during the first half of the 20th century: Harry and Arnold Bentley

Owners of a printing company called 'H.G. Bentley Ltd' (70 years of Golf, Hesketh Golf Club - Reflections Spelling) they were above all amateur champion golfers.

Harry Geoffrey Bentley was the eldest of the two brothers. He was born October 13th, 1907, in Manchester, England.

Apart from being a member of the Hesketh Golf Club, he also had his name on the so-known Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews members list. Additionally, he was part of the Sunningdale Heath, in the west of London, and Monte Carlo Golf Clubs.

Harry Bentley was extremely talented, winning the Lancashire Amateur Championship three times, in 1931, 1932 and 1939. He also won the French Open Amateur Championship in 1931, but also in 1932, which was an important year for him, since he was part of the English team to compete at the inaugural Golf Championship, in Troon, Scotland. Unfortunately for him, Scotland won.

1936 was also a key year for the amateur golf champion, marked by his victory at the English Amateur Championship, held at the Deal Golf Club (Hesketh Golf Club Spelling). Eighteen years later, he won the Italian one.

We can also cite his victory in the Monte Carlo Amateur Championship both in 1948 and 1949, or the German one, won four times, in 1933, 1937, 1938 and 1939!

Harry Bentley died in 1991, at the age of eighty-four.

His younger brother, Arnold Lewis Bentley was born in Southport, England, June 18th, 1911. 

He was an honorary member of Hesketh, but also, as Harry Bentley, of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews, Royal Wimbledon, in London, and Royal Birkdale (Southport) Golf Clubs. In addition, he was an Honorary Life Member of the Senior Golfers’ Society.

As his brother, he took part in several well-known competitions, at home and abroad.

Among those tournaments, we can cite the Ashton Trophy at Saint Annes Old Links Golf Club, Blackpool, won at only seventeen years old, in 1928. On the same year, he played for England in the Boys’ International.

Another important victory, and maybe the most famous one, is the one in Baden-Baden, Germany, together with Tommy Thirsk (70 years of Golf, Hesketh Golf Club - Reflections Spelling), during the Olympic Games Golf Exhibition Tournament, the “Golf Pries der Nationen”, in 1936. 

Stade Olympique copy

Olympic stadium in Berlin, 1936

Golf, which made its debut in the Olympics of Paris in 1900, was withdrawn from the program after its second appearance, in 1904. It was reintroduced only 112 years later, for the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

In 1936, it was still not part of the program. However, Adolf Hitler wanted to use it as part of its propaganda, emphasising his desire to present himself as being part of the people, and making this said-to-be elitist sport more accessible.

He was not a player himself, but counted among his rank a passionate. Karl Henkell, president of the German Golf Union, nicknamed the ‘Golf Führer’ was thus in charge of organising the game.

It was opposing seven nations: Germany, England, France, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands, and was broadcasted on German radio.

During the tournament, Hitler was advised that Germany, represented by Leonard von Beckerath and C.A. Helmers (70 years of Golf, Hesketh Golf Club - Reflections Spelling), was winning at the tournament. Therefore, he drove across from Berlin to present the trophy.

However, Arnold Bentley and Tommy Thirsk won, just before France. Nevertheless, Germany was on the third place of the podium.

Hitler, when being notified of this, ordered his chauffeur to return immediately to Berlin, leaving Karl Henkell to conduct the ceremony.

The prize, now known as the “Hitler Trophy” was only “brought home” to the Hesketh Golf Club in 2012, bought in auction by its president since 2006, Derek Holden, in honor of his friend, Arnold Bentley, who died in 1998.

Apart from the Bentley Brothers, the Hesketh Golf Club revealed some of the most talented golf players

Here we can cite Lee Slattery, born in 1978, in Southport, who won the Bankia Madrid Masters in 2011 and the M2M Russian Open, at the Skolkovo Golf Club, west of Moscow, on September 6th, 2015. 

Matthew Baldwin, who won the Lancashire County Championship twice, now plays on the European tour and Bryan Hughes are also local talents. Bryan Hughes became the first Englishman to win the Senior Amateur Championship since 2003, in August 2017, in Sunningdale, England.

We cannot forget to mention Thomas (Tommy) Paul Fleetwood. Now playing in the Professional Golf Association Tour and European Tour, he is one of the rising star of the golfing scene! Indeed, he has won seven times on the European Tour.

Before becoming professional in 2010, he won the Lancashire County Championship in 2008 and the English Amateur Championship in 2010, and many more.

It also welcomed some of the most promising talents…

Hesketh in fact held the R&A Junior Open in 2008, allowing one hundred of the most promising under sixteen golf teenagers, coming from all-over the world, to show their talent.

Moriya Jutanugarn marked the History, being the first girl to win the event ever. At that time, the Thai player was thirteen years old. Now, at twenty-nine, she is a professional player, named in 2013 Ladies Professional Golf Association, Rookie of the year.

Now, Hesketh owes its reputation to one man, Derek Holden.

Born in Southport, and having studied at King George V School, he started to play golf in the 1940s and joined the Hesketh Golf Club in 1950. 

He marked the Club's history in 1967, becoming its youngest captain. Experience that he renewed in 1985, for the Club’s centenary year.

Three years earlier, he became a member of the prestigious Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1982, on Arnold Bentley’s proposal.  

He now continues to spread his passion for Golf and history, and to make Hesketh one of the most prestigious golf club.

Source: 70 Years of Golf, Hesketh Golf Club – Reflections, Derek Holden

Written by Lisa Marie, Trainee at Normandy American Heroes

Topics: World War 2, WWII, Golf, Olympics, Hesketh Golf Club

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Normandy American Heroes provides custom World War II tours of Normandy and beyond On our blog, we write about World War II, things to do in Normandy and much more.

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