Our Club archivist Harry MacAnespie has penned an article on the last time the Club had to deal with a Global Crises.
“Coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting everyone just now, touching all aspects of life including our game of golf. Commentators tell us that the country has not experienced anything like this since World War 2 and indeed it sometimes looks and feels like we are on a war footing once again. It is unlikely that many of our present membership would have been a member of Douglas Park during the period 1939-1945. Golf at Douglas Park was certainly disrupted then but not entirely stopped. At that time the Government decreed that areas of open ground, especially grassed areas, had to be taken over for agricultural purposes to aid the war effort. In a sense Douglas Park was fortunate in that the course was given over to cattle grazing which avoided it being ploughed up.
The whole of the top part of the course, holes 13, 14, 15, and the first half of 16, was cordoned off and the course reduced to 15 holes. On the rest of the course cattle roamed freely. Under the rules cattle were probably classed as movable obstructions whereas the tall poles which were planted around the course to stop enemy aircraft from landing were immovable obstructions. To protect the putting surfaces barbed wire fences in the form of a square were installed round each green, with a narrow opening at two corners to allow access. If an approach shot struck the fence the player was allowed to play the shot again without penalty. A free lift was also allowed if the ball ended up in a hoof mark or in cow droppings which caused much hilarity as the rule book of that time had a rule which loosely translated stated that “The ball must not be struck whilst in motion.”
During this time, for those continuing to play the Royal and Ancient game, new golf balls were difficult if not impossible to obtain and if you were lucky enough to be able to buy one it as often as not had an exotic name such as “Spitfire” or “Commando.” Increasingly players had to resort to the “repaint” whereby balls which would normally have been consigned to the bin were given a scrub and repainted with white paint. Very much make do and mend golf.
Further inconveniences were foisted on the Club which the members accepted with good grace. Our Centenary History tells that for the duration of the war all competitions were abandoned, the clubhouse closed each day at sundown and would only be heated at weekends (except in extreme conditions.) Face towels were replaced by roller towels, and committee meetings took place on Saturday afternoons. But worst of all, austerity demanded that The Tatler, Brittania, and Eve magazines were cancelled. Extreme measures right enough!
More was to come. A search light unit and accompanying buildings were installed on the high ground at holes 14 and 15, and troops manning the searchlights were given the use of the clubhouse “for washing and bathing.” It is to be hoped that they would have more than just the roller towels to dry themselves after bathing!
Douglas Park also had its own “Dad’s Army” Home Guard unit, staffed by members of the Club, which initially met in the clubhouse and later in the Burgh Hall at Bearsden Cross. There was a good response to this call to arms but soon the Club’s unit was stood down in favour of geographically based units.
After the end of hostilities in 1945, restoration work on the course took about a year and we were back to playing the full 18 holes by the summer of 1946. Six years of disruption. Let’s hope that our present situation might be resolved in more like six months at the most. As the World War 2 slogan stated so eloquently, we must try to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. ”
Sources. 1. Personal recollections. DP Archives Department