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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Scottish Golf History

Places

Leipzig
(Source: © 2016, Douglas MacKenzie)

Admittedly a tenuous connection with Scotland and clubmaking but I was taken by the piece in the Scotsman of 1910 comparing Leipzig Gaschwitz with Duddingston not least because it was a very good course review which avoided the modern clichés of ‘hidden gem’, ‘undulating fairways’ and ‘fair test of golf’: give me ‘pusillanimous spirits’ any day. It was, though, Duddingston’s trumpeting proclamation of a first female director in 2014 which prompted me, an unlikely feminist, to include the information on Martina Limburger von Hoffmann. To begin with the correspondent ‘travelling on the continent’,

‘A quarter of an hour in the train from Leipzig brings you to a pretty inland course somewhat resembling Duddingston, although smaller. Six holes are in picturesque park land, where scattered and aggregated trees provide tricky hazards and the other three (the fourth, fifth and sixth) are wonderfully good considering that they have within the last twelve months been reclaimed from agricultural use. Artificial bunkers abound, especially the pot variety; but expert advice is that they require addition, and some need modification from their present steepness. Once in, it is extremely difficult to emerge. The greens are very fast, and as a rule are moderately well guarded; but some can be approached by a topped ball. Straightness is a much-needed quality in the play, as frequent “out of bounds” is the order of the course and the familiar “stream” is very much in evidence as a punishment now for slices, and again for pulls, The fourth, fifth and sixth holes are the least difficult, and careful, canny play is all that is required. This part of the course is approached by a walk through the Forest which serves to restore the mind to equipoise, if at all agitated by previous experience, which is not at all unlikely in playing the full round of eighteen holes, The best holes are the first, seventh and eighth. Number one is 475 yards and requires two good drives. A bunker, which frequently catches a fairly good second, can be evaded by circumspection, but too much to the right finds your course hampered by handsome “hardwoods”. Number seven is difficult. From the tee one sees an enticing vista through a narrow avenue of trees, requiring a straight long cleek shot on to the green (181 yards), the correct course being over the corner of a garden fence, rather reminding us of the Schoolmaster’s garden at St Andrews. The garden is said to be a paradise for those who keep outside of it but “wilderness snow” for those who hunt for lost rubber-cores in its charming precincts. The eight hole is a shot and apt to be a merry one. It requires a very delicate iron or mashie to escape the two crescent bunkers which meet “under a spreading chestnut tree”. Carry these elegant branches, and avoid the bunkers to right, bunkers to left, and bunkers at the rear of the green and “there you are”; but a little more or a little less and how much it is! Pusillanimous spirits demand that this part of the course should be made easier, but the truly sporting instinct will preserve it, on the principle that golfing risk is the very salt of life. On the whole the Leipzig Golf Club is to be congratulated on its links, and this famous University city on its possession of such an undeniable addition to its many charms. The clubhouse is well situated and appointed and visitors are thoroughly well catered for.’

Postcard view of clubhouse at Leipzig Gaschwitz ca 1920

Leipzig Gaschwitz golf clubhouse ca.1920

The following year the German Professional Championship came to Leipzig with eight entrants, all British professionals at German clubs: Cuthbert Butchart from Berlin, A J Chapman and D Crook the home club professionals at Leipzig, J B Holt at Hamburg, Ernest Warburton, Kitzeberg in Kiel, Arthur Andrews from Hamburg’s Wentorf-Reinbek club and James West of Bremen.

The Scotsman takes up the story,

‘Play was over 36 holes …. and before the end of the first nine holes the competition lay between Butchart, Murray and West. The remaining competitors found it difficult to keep the course, and made frequent excursions into the out-of-bounds plantations, and into the river and well-known “garden”. One of the local professionals was especially prone to go astray at this point, despite his familiarity with the perils of wandering. In some respects the soundest game was played by Butchart, but at certain critical moments he failed in the necessary judgement; over-running the bounds of the course by too great distance and he found the swift greens, baked by the fierce sun, difficult to negotiate. The soundest game was put out by West and Murray playing together …. And both of them were by turns brilliant …. West proved the winner returning in his final round a score of 69, his partner failing to overtake him, being always handicapped by an unfortunate initial 8, and later by three putts, instead of a possible one to hole in 2 at a short hole.’

Martina Limburger von Hoffmann who attended Rudolf Steiner’s first lecture in Leipzig and was much involved with the Anthroposophical Society visited Scotland with her son in 1914 and took some golf lessons in Oban. The next year she joined the Gaschwitz Club with her son and encouraged him to develop his talents. The fourteen year old boy was Bernhard von Limburger, eventually an outstanding amateur golfer and Germany’s most famous golf course architect. When he decided not to practice law and start a golf publishing house instead she supported his first steps financially. Duddingston, with which the Scotsman correspondent compared Leipzig in 1910, made much of appointing the first woman to their board in 2014. Martina Limburger was on the board of the Leipzig club from 1919-25.

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