The Halford Hewitt
The most prestigious event in our calendar is the Halford Hewitt competition which is played over a six day period each Easter at Royal St Georges Golf Club in Sandwich and Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal. The event is now in its 73rd year and comprises 64 teams of 10 players in a scratch event (no handicap allowance).
The Halford Hewitt has been described by the golf writer Nick Tremayne as ‘the greatest of all truly amateur tournaments’. Founded in 1924 it is competed for today by the old boys of 64 English and Scottish public schools which each field five foursomes pairs, making 640 competitors in all. The sheer size of the “field” – plus the hundreds of supporters who routinely turn up – is part of what makes the “Hewitt” a unique sporting event. The tournament has a rich history, frequently pits average golfers against famous internationals, and produces moments of golfing pressure simply not experienced by amateur players elsewhere.
The Halford Hewitt is one of Britain’s most competitive golf tournaments, contested between teams of 10 former pupils from the schools which make up the membership of the Public Schools Golfing Society, and it is also one of the game’s most convivial social gatherings, something which is entirely appropriate considering it was conceived during a luncheon meeting at one of England’s finest golf clubs.
Foursomes was confirmed as the official format right from the outset, at that lunch at The Addington, and it seems that the decision to call it The Halford Hewitt was finalised then, too.According to Longhurst, who seldom got things wrong, Mellin and Beck had decided on the tournament details and were wondering which “bloody fool” they could inveigle into putting up a trophy when, quite by chance, Halford Hewitt walked into the room and was promptly pounced on.
Looking back at Hurstpierpoint’s success in the event, we have only ever reached the third round once. It was in 1947 when we beat Wellington and Chigwell (3/2 both) but lost 4/1 to Harrow. Our team that year was Bill Gibbs, Derek Piggott, Ernest Harper, Ronnie Lee, Douglas (Dippy) Henderson, Teddy Prebble, RJ Smith, BR Lintott, RM Esdaile, WA King, RS Hadfield and RC Petherbridge. Esdale and Piggott won their matches in all three rounds winning their match against Harrow by just one hole having beaten their opponents from Chigwell 9/7!
There is a degree of debate surrounding how the event came to be started but, according to that great golf writer and TV commentator, Henry Longhurst, it was dreamt up during a lunch which John Beck had with G.L. “Susie” Mellin at The Addington Club in Surrey some time during the summer of 1923. Certainly, later that year, representatives from six schools, namely Eton, Charterhouse, Highgate, The Leys, Malvern and Winchester met up to finalise the first tournament and they were joined in the inaugural draw by four others, Mill Hill, Rugby, Beaumont and Radley although, ultimately, during that first year, Beaumont scratched and Radley failed to raise a team.