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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
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C W Culling
Darmstadt
C W Culling was the professional at the Gro▀herzoglicher Golf Club in Darmstadt at the start of the First World War and, eight weeks after Britain declared war on Germany, he was less than thrilled with his position, writing, in a letter which found its way into the Around the 19th Hole Section of December’s The American Golfer.

‘Excuse me taking the liberty of writing to you, but if you should hear of a Golf Club wanting a professional, I should be most pleased if you would think of me, as I have at present nothing to do, the Club being closed up, and they do not intend to play the game here again. I am at present at the Golf Club unable to get away.’

The club told a different story and claimed he wouldn’t go away! As recounted in the May 1915 issue of The American Golfer, 'At the outbreak of the war, all play was suspended, both on the golf links and the tennis courts. In consequence, the income of the club fell off, while the expenses continued. We tried to get rid of the English golf professional Culling and his wife, who had charge of the restaurant. This was impossible as regards Mr. Culling, and his wife refused to leave him.'

Whichever version is correct, by the time Culling’s plea reached the press it was too late. He was interned at the Ruhleben camp around Berlin’s racecourse in November 1914 and his wife returned to England. Unfortunate as that was, he might consider himself rather lucky if he had been trying to play hardball with his employer. The administration of the club at Darmstadt was apparently in the hands of Oberhofmarschall Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg who was not your run-of-the-mill committee man. Murderous psychopath is probably too charitable a description. After unimaginable thuggery in the Russian cavalry and bloodthirsty torture of Jews and Bolsheviks as a White Russian governor he formed a private army and invaded Mongolia in 1920 and installed himself as dictator. Fortunately he was so hated he fled back to Russia where he was tried and shot to the relief of all sides.

The Ruhleben magazine shows Culling taking part in the professionals’ tournament held in the camp in 1916 but I can find no record of him playing professional golf after the war.

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