In the first round of the Egyptian Open, I played with John Jacobs. The fairways were nice and lush but the greens were made from very coarse-bladed grass and were very grainy. Your ball made a noise as it rolled towards the hole and it would spin sideways for half a turn before it came to rest.
This was not the only hazard. On one of the holes I hit a cracking drive, straight down the middle. As we walked off the tee I saw a huge hawk swoop down and fly off with my ball, dropping it two fairways away.
I was non-plussed but had no alternative. I had to walk across to my ball and take a brassie (2-wood) instead of an 8 iron. As I missed the green, I took 5.
John explained that it was my caddie’s fault. He should have run up to my ball as soon as it came to rest and dropped a red handkerchief over it.
I could not get my game going at Cairo. We went on to Alexandria to play in the Egyptian Matchplay Tournament. I was two up with three to play against Bobby Locke and still lost.
The 16th was a short hole with a deep bunker right in front of the pin. My tee shot covered the pin but was a foot short, hitting the bank and dropping back into the bunker. This knocked my confidence and Bobby was quick to exploit this. He won the tournament.
More trouble in Cairo
On another visit to Cairo in 1954, there was more trouble. Dai and I were booked into a small hotel in a narrow street.
That night a crowd of demonstrators walked down our street making a hell of a racket. Dai banged on my door telling me to lock it as they could be terrorists.
We both watched from our windows. Our hotel staff had armed themselves with long kitchen knives and were forming a barrier outside our front door. Thankfully, there was no trouble.
Narrow escape from Comet flight
We had had enough by this stage and phoned the airport the next morning to try to get seats on the Comet jet arriving from Karachi, but were told it was fully booked.
This saved our lives. The Comet took off from Cairo and came apart from metal fatigue over Elba, killing everyone on board.