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Westcountryman – A Life in Farming, Countryside, Cricket and Cider - Anthony Gibson

Golf's most astonishing round - the story of Ernie Foord, Somerset's unsung golfing genius
£15,00(Includes P&P - UK only)

 A round of 73, on a Championship links, using just a putter!
New book recalls a Somerset golfing genius and his “truly astonishing” achievements
Somerset has produced many fine professional golfers over the years: the Whitcombes, the Bradbeers and Brian Barnes, to name but a few. But none, surely, can have played such a remarkable round as a little known local boy from the village of Berrow, who in 1912, took just 73 shots to play Burnham and Berrow GC’s championship links, using only his putter.
He was Ernie Foord, the eldest boy in a family of seven. His father Walter helped lay out Burnham’s original course, opened in 1891. His mother, Sarah, was the club’s first steward. Ernie himself became professional in 1901 at the age of 16, following hard on the heels of the great J H Taylor, five times Open Champion.
In 1903, Ernie set a course record of 63, some 12 shots better than what was regarded as par for the course, the equivalent of a 58 or 59 today. The magazine Golf Illustrated described the round as “probably a world’s record.”
Like many other Berrow boys, Ernie had started his golfing life as a caddy, shouldering increasingly large and heavy bags of anything up to 20 clubs, there being no limit on the number of clubs a golfer could deploy in those days. This left its mark, and in 1912 Ernie decided that it was time to demonstrate that a vast armoury of clubs was not necessary to play good golf, by playing the course using just his putter.
On his first attempt, he took 78, roughly 3 over par for the course at the time. But when he tried again, on March 12, he got it round in 73, at least two under par, beating an 8 handicap golfer who was given a five hole start, in the process.
This came to the attention of Bernard Darwin, legendary golf correspondent of The Times.“The news of a remarkable golfing achievement has lately come from Burnham in Somerset”, was how he opened his column on March 30th 1912.
“Ernst Foord, the professional, armed only with a single putter, gave a start of five holes to an 8-handicap player and beat him by three holes up and 2 to play, completing the round in the score of 73 strokes.
“This is a truly astonishing score, as Burnham is neither a particularly short nor a particularly easy course.”
Darwin’s words have helped provide the title for Anthony Gibson’s new book, “Golf’s Most Astonishing Round - the story of Ernie Foord, Somerset’s unsung golfing hero”. He recreates both that remarkable round and the course record 63, in the context of a vivid account of golf and golfers in Burnham and Berrow’s early years. Besides Ernie Foord’s feats, J H Taylor - Burnham’s first pro - features prominently, as does one of Somerset’s greatest ever sporting heroes, the great Sammy Woods, for whom Ernie caddied as a boy,
But that 73 with the putter was not the end of the Ernie Foord story. In 1913, he beat his hero, J H Taylor in a 36 hole match, before emigrating to the USA in 1916, where he soon became one of the leading professionals in the country, landing the plum job of Pro at Oakland Hills GC ahead of all of the great names in American golf at the time, and presiding at the 1924 US Open Championship.
The book will be launched at Burnham and Berrow GC on October 27, when the current Professional, David Haines, will seek to emulate Ernie Foord’s feat, using an Ernie Foord-made putter.
“Golf’s Most Astonishing Round – the Story of Ernie Foord, Somerset’s Unsung Golfing Genius” is published by Charlcombe Books and will be available from October 27 from anthonygibsonbooks.co.uk and all the usual outlets.