The Royal British Legion has joined with leading golfing organisations including the Professional Golfers’ Association of GB&I, The European Tour, The Ladies’ European Tour, The R&A, Scottish Golf, The Home Unions of Scotland, England and Wales and The Golf Club Secretaries’ and Managers’ Association to remember the role played by golfers and members of each Club’s local community on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
A special edition Somme 100 golf pin flag will be flown on the 16th hole of golf courses across the country to commemorate the service and sacrifice of professional and amateur golfers in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago. The initiative, which is part of The Royal British Legion Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016, officially launched at Carnoustie on the eve of the Senior Open Championship with the backing of the PGA, The European Tour, The Ladies’ European Tour, The R&A, Scottish Golf, The Home Unions of Scotland, England and Wales, and The Golf Club Secretaries’ and Managers’ Association. The launch also had the support of golfers Sam Torrance OBE, Ian Woosnam OBE, Colin Montgomerie OBE, Sir Nick Faldo, Paul McGinley and Jean van de Velde – who almost upset the odds at The Open at Carnoustie in 1999.
Local golf clubs can now take part in the campaign by requesting their own Sport Remembers toolkit on The Royal British Legion website (www.britishlegion.org.uk). Each toolkit includes a commemorative pennant that can be displayed at local clubs. The special edition ‘No.16 Somme 100’ commemorative golf pin flags are available to order at poppyshop.org.uk and through 0300 123 9110.
A spokesperson for the Senior Open Championship said: “On the eve of The Senior Open Championship, both The R&A and The European Tour would like to express their best wishes for the success of the Fly the Flag initiative and to commend the organisers on a worthy and appropriate tribute”.
Sandy Jones, Chief Executive of the PGA of GB&I, said, “The golf courses and clubs throughout our country provide a vital network of sports and social centers for millions of people at a local level. The Club Professional plays a key role within our sport and the Association today acknowledges the Members who laid down their lives alongside the golfers and sportsmen from their shared communities. We hope that every club will join in the ‘Fly The Flag’ campaign and that all golfers will take a moment on the 16th Hole to remember the tragic events of 100 years ago.”
Shona Malcolm, Secretary of the PGA in Scotland, said: “The 1st war impacted on almost every community in the country, not just with the loss of a generation of the men, but also in the trials and challenges facing the widows and children who were left behind. Golf remains a real community activity in this country, and it is fitting that the sport engages with the activities of remembrance 100 years on from the Somme.”
Scottish Golf, the governing body for the amateur game in Scotland, are also supporting the campaign and said: “We are delighted to support The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign, and we will inform all affiliated clubs in Scotland and encourage them to ‘fly the flag’ up and down the country in the weeks ahead.”
Former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance OBE said: “I am delighted to support the Royal British Legion in their Sport Remembers campaign. I think every golf club will want to fly their own Poppy Flag in respect of their own fathers, sons, neighbours and friends who would have been so sorely missed by an entire generation. The 16th hole can now serve to be a quiet place to just pause to remember all those men who never returned.”
Colin Montgomerie OBE, Ryder Cup winning captain and three-time major winner, said:
“The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign is very important to me personally and to the millions of golfers of all ages throughout this country. I am totally supportive of our golf community joining with other sports in remembering those who gave their lives 100 years ago. We enjoy a legacy of freedom today thanks to their sacrifices and they should not be forgotten”.
Ian Woosnam OBE said:
“The Battle of the Somme left many communities devastated including golf clubs throughout Wales and all over the Home countries. It’s important we never forget and so I’m proud to add my support to The Royal British Legion Sport Remembers campaign.”
Paul McGinley said:
“I’m delighted to add my name to the sportspeople supporting The Sport Remembers campaign. I’ll be thinking of the golfers from all nations who have lost their lives in conflict”.
Bob Gamble OBE, from The Royal British Legion, said, “The Battle of the Somme had a terrible impact on local communities and its losses were felt deeply by sport, as players and teams sadly fell in great numbers. The Legion encourages the golfing community to come together and recognise the contribution and sacrifice of the professional and amateur players who fought at the Somme, and flying a commemorative Somme 100 flag in the 16th hole of their course is a fitting gesture of Remembrance.”
The Battle of the Somme, which ran from 01 July – 18 November 1916, was one of the most difficult and costly battles of the First World War. To aid the war effort, virtually all professional sport had been suspended for the duration by the time the Battle of the Somme began. Athletes and players from sports at all levels had volunteered to enlist – sometimes en masse as an entire team and its supporters. There were battalions that included significant numbers of athletes, footballers, and individual members of clubs and teams. Many other players – from first class cricketers to amateur golfers – served in Pals Battalions recruited from towns, villages, schools, workplaces and trades. When these battalions suffered losses, as they did mostly at the Somme, the impact was felt at the club and community level.
Alongside the Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016 toolkit, The Royal British Legion has produced 100 Sportsmen of the Somme stories – including the story of Albert Tingey, a founding member of the PGA who abandoned his golf school venture to recruit a company called the Niblick Brigade. Backed by George Duncan, who would go on to win the 1920 Open, and Charles Mayo a Belgian Open winner in 1911, he rounded up a team of golfers to go and serve the country. The Niblicks fought to the end of the war, regularly reinforced by pros, greenkeepers, caddies and clubmakers. Albert Tingey survived and worked at Frinton-on-Sea, Essex. He died in 1953 aged 83.
PRIVATE ALBERT TINGEY
Born: 1869, Cambridge
Died: Feb 1953, aged 83/84
Sport: Golf Clubs: Royal West Norfolk, Brancaster; West Hertfordshire; Paris Golf School, Fontainebleau; Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
Military: B Company 13th Battalion The Rifle Brigade
Employment: Golf professional
Albert Tingey was a founding member of the PGA, but abandoned his professional golf school venture to recruit a company called the Niblick Brigade. Backed by George Duncan, who would go on to win the 1920 Open, and Charles Mayo a Belgian Open winner in 1911, he rounded up a team of golfers to go and serve the country. Others, in what was called ‘The Niblick Brigade’, included semi-pro footballers, and the inventor of the Sammy Iron Harry Fulford. In the same battalion was Captain Arnold Jackson, who in 1912 had won an Olympic gold 1500m medal in the “greatest race of all time”. By December 1915 there were 120 pro golfers serving the country. The Niblicks fought to the end of the war, regularly reinforced by pros, greenkeepers, caddies and clubmakers. Albert Tingey survived and worked at Frinton-on-Sea, Essex. He died in 1953 aged 83.
Sir Nick Faldo MBE, former world golf number one and six times Major Championship winner, who helped launch Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016, said, “The Royal British Legion Sport Remembers campaign recognises the athletes who made historic contributions to our Nation through service or sacrifice at the Battle of the Somme and during the First World War. It is an honour to represent our sport in salute of the golfers and associated professionals who will forever be remembered for their contribution to our national history through ultimate service to our country.”
By Mike Hyde