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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
A H Toogood
Eltham/Tramore etc
Bernard Darwin, in his biography of James Braid, described Toogood as ‘a golfer of really great possibilities. He never quite lived up to them’. This is a little harsh. Earning enough money to feed his family by concentrating on the teaching and selling activities of a club professional cut down on his tournament play, especially after his wife died in 1905 leaving him with 5 young children. With his fourth place finish in the 1894 Open Championship earning him only £7 one can understand his predicament.

Alfred Henry Toogood was born 1 May 1872 on the Isle of Wight and learned his golf at the Royal Isle of Wight Club at St Helens. He began his professional career at the Eltham Warren course in South East London in 1892 and it was from here he achieved for 4th place in the Open.

He moved to Minchinhampton some time in 1895 with, apparently, his cousin Walter Toogood replacing him at Eltham and there are reports of the Minchinhampton clubhouse being broken into in September of that year with some of his goods stolen. He won the Midlands Professional Championship, setting a new course record in his first round, at Sandwell Park in June 1899.

In March 1900 he was still at Minchinhampton but some time that year he moved to Headingley in Leeds and entered the 1903 Open Championship with this affiliation. In 1904 or 1905 he took up the post of professional at the West Essex club and in May 1905 won the Tooting Bec Cup (the Southern PGA Championship) a stroke ahead of J H Taylor and two in front of Braid and Vardon. The Scotsman, possibly using a syndicated story, tipped him as the most likely Open Championsship winner outside the ‘quartette’ (Vardon, Taylor, Braid and Alex Herd). Apparently ‘a severe chill’ caused him to withdraw when doing very well. However, the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News reported (and this just a week before the Tooting Bec win) that his wife had died leaving him with five young children which may have had a bearing were it to be true. I can find no record of this. He married Roseann Mullally on the Isle of Wight in 1895 with their eldest son (later to be a successful professional in Australia) Alfred jnr (Alf) born a few months later. I cannot find her or a record of any other children on the 1901 census. Alfred and Alfred jnr were back on the Isle of Wight with his parents at the time of that census. Untangling this part of the story must wait for some other day.

With his wife’s name of Roseann Mullally I would take a wild guess that she was Irish. This may have had something to do with him accepting the professional’s post at Tramore in 1907. He was here until January 1909 when he accepted the post of professional at Beckenham.

In 1912 he played a very strange match at Sunningdale against scratch amateur A Tindal Atkinson. Attached to the Chelsea Golf School, whose secretary Guy Livingstone had made the assertion that it was not necessary to keep one’s eye on the ball when playing golf, Toogood was blindfolded by Livingstone before playing each shot. He lost 8 and 7.

James Sorley [718], the paper’s golf correspondent, who would have known him from being secretary at Tramore wrote an obituary of him in the St Andrews Citizen in April 1917 noting Toogood being killed in action had escaped the notice of other newspapers. A very nice obituary it was too and I hope Toogood enjoyed it as he was neither dead nor wounded

George Duncan, in Present Day Golf written with Bernard Darwin in 1921 observed that Toogood was the only one of the British professionals to be successful using the Schenectady putter before it was banned.

He died at his home in South Norwood, London, in July 1928 having been ill since the previous autumn

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