Harry Towlson was the son of Thomas and Rosa Towlson née Frost and born in Basford, Nottingham in 1894 (this is from his gravestone, census records and the passenger list do not quite match this and I have not located his birth record).
By 1911 the family were living in Skegness with Thomas employed as a bricklayer’s labourer and Harry as a 16-year old clubmaker, presumably in the early stages of an apprenticeship which could have been either at the town’s Seacroft links or the newly opened (1910) North Shore club.
Prior to the beginning of World War I he became assistant at the Thorpe Hall club in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and from here he joined the other 23 assistant professionals who gathered in Trafalgar Square on 12 September 1914 and matched off to enlist in the 13th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, their company being known as as the Niblick Brigade. As S/4567 Private Towlson, he received a gunshot wound to his left hand during the battle of the Somme in July 1916. He lost the pinky and the hand was mutilated but he escaped amputation.
In July 1919 he left for Canada, embarking on the Canadian Pacific Ocean Services ship Minnedosa at Liverpool and arriving in Montreal on 9 August. He found employment at the St Francis Golf and Country Club in Sherbrooke but, in April 1920, it was announced he ‘had consented to come to the capital and take charge of the 9 hole course at the Ottawa club’. This was what was then known as the Ottawa Hunt and Motor Club and he began work in the middle of that month on a temporary course. At the end of the month he was walking the ground with Willie Park who was the architect of the new 18-hole course which was to be ready by July 1921. In the winter of 1920-21 Harry opened an indoor golf school with the professional at Royal Ottawa, Willie Mulligan, in the Jackson Building on the corner of Bank and Slater Streets in the city.
Harry stayed at the Hunt Club for the rest of his career, eventually retiring in February 1951 on medical advice. He had been made an honorary member of the club after 25 years service as professional.
The damage to his hand hampered his durability in tournament play and two rounds of the Canadian Open was generally enough for him. Such was the case in Kanawaki in 1929. His first two rounds of 68 and 69 had kept him in touch with the leaders, Leo Diegel, Tommy Armour, Bill Mehlhorn and Jim Barnes but the hand played up and his challenge stalled. He had already had problems with his hand with a bone being displaced when playing from some rough the previous month which had kept him from playing for a few weeks.
He married Macrosa Brown in 1921 and in 1930 Harry’s parents emigrated to Canada also, and Thomas, aged 60, swapped carrying the bricklayer’s hod for carrying golf irons instead, becoming a self-described ‘assistant golf professional’.
While at the club Harry developed a reputation as a masseur, especially providing therapy for leg and ankle injuries, and he continued this as a business into his retirement.
He died in Carleton on 24 February 1967 leaving a wife and two daughters.
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