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A Tale of Two Clubhouses

Times now are a bit different. When club captain Patrick Franklin-Adams got on his feet to address his team and the "invited" Walton Heath artisans in the club lounge, he had to talk of defeat, with the artisans winning six out of the ten matches. "We were doing fine till the tail didn't wag as it should have," said Franklin-Adams—a quaint way of stating that the final club pairing had failed to triumph over Fred Faulkner and his partner. However, looking forward to the one-off centenary match between club and artisans later in the year, Franklin-Adams predicted that the defeat would be short-lived: "Today was merely a rehearsal."

As Sir Michael Pickard handed out sandwiches to artisans relaxing in unfamiliar territory, and with all class and financial divide evaporating in the heated recall of fairway battles, artisan captain Glen Deacon, a plumber whose name had languished for three years on a membership waiting list before a spot opened for him, had to say in his reply that "it is always a pleasure to bring a team over here."

"Over here" meaning twenty paces across the members' car park. He added, "We enjoyed ourselves, and we'll welcome you over to our place later this year."

Outside, Pat Sheehan laughed with Dave Lucas as they prepared to drive home. They talked of elements of division that still existed. But the language was of toleration and acceptance rather than fear. "If we head off onto the course five minutes after we are allowed to, something will be said," noted Sheehan. That "something will be said" seems about as bad as it gets—the local equivalent of a United Nations sanction.

Sheehan admitted, "Yes, there's a class-divide thing." So, must artisans simply learn to put up with it?"No, we love it!" chipped in Lucas. Sheehan agreed: "We play games with them, like parking our cars in the main car park." Lucas added: "One of the two courses was closed the other morning. Finishing our round, we played down the final holes of the closed course—and lo and behold, there was a member. He pulled us up and said, 'Do you know this course is closed?' And I said, 'Oh, is it?' He was there to have a go at us, to put us in our place."

The pair chuckled at the incident, but there was no malice, no anger, leaving one with the impression that if the artisans' club didn't exist, Sheehan and Lucas would simply go out and invent it themselves.

"For £170 a year, there's obviously stuff you have to put up with," said Sheehan. "And you do. But you kind of laugh at it." He nodded at Lucas, who had just summed it all up. "We are who we are," he said.

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