Book relates dramatic transformation since infamous clubhouse fire

‘The flames of the clubhouse fire at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in 2001 consumed not only the members’ lockers, golf clubs and dozens of prized trophies and memorabilia, but also the traditional golf club way of life.’

So begins the introduction to Baptism of Fire, a new history of the south-west London club written by former BBC journalist and sports correspondent Neil Bennett and fellow club member, celebrated cricket photographer Patrick Eagar.

“The fire was a catalyst for enormous change,” said Bennett. “Almost everything was destroyed, but not the spirit of members not Royal Mid-Surrey’s tradition of resilience and comradeship. This is a club which many of those interviewed for this book describe as a ‘home from home’,” he added.

The 204-page coffee table book details the way in which the club was transformed between the disastrous fire that took 45 minutes to destroy the classic colonial-style clubhouse and last year’s 125th anniversary.

It recounts how full equality for men and women was voted through and how Royal Mid-Surrey took control of its long-term future by buying the lease for the Old Deer Park land alongside the River Thames and Kew Gardens from the Crown Estate.

Anecdotes about players and notable members over its long history include the revelation about how honorary member The Duke of York reacted when he first saw his portrait commissioned for the club’s centenary.

The book is priced at £25.00 and for details about obtaining copies email recp@rmsgc.co.uk or call 0208 940 1894.