Shall we have a split Jim?

In match play tournaments it quite often happens that the finalists, if they know each other well and are evenly matched, will agree to split the prize money between them. Although they will still play to win, it takes the financial sting out of losing. But it is unusual for players to split their winnings in stroke play.

I had quite a good season in 1949, winning two tournaments and finishing joint 6th in the Open. When eight of us made the Channel crossing to play in the Dutch and Belgian Opens that year, Jimmy Adams and I agreed to split our money; Jimmy must have rated my chances quite highly.

The Dutch Open was held at the Hague that year and Jimmy won it comfortably. I was well behind so Jimmy had to hand over £100.

1951 Ryder Cup team, from left Harry Weetman, Max, Jimmy Adams, John Panton, Fred Daly, Arthur Lacey (captain), Ken Bousefield, Dai Rees, Arthur Lees, Jack Hargreaves, Charlie Ward

We didn’t fancy the rail journey to the Belgian course, which would have involved several changes, so the eight of us decided to charter a Dutch bus for the trip.

This was fine for travelling through the flat Dutch landscape but when we came to the first of the Belgian hills, the bus began to labour.

Pushing required

It was not long before steam was pouring out from the engine. The driver stopped for ten minutes to let the engine cool but it was steaming again long before we reached the top.

We all got out and sat by the side of the road lighting cigarettes. In heavily accented English, the driver told us that we would have to start pushing if we ever wanted to reach our destination.

I don’t think the bus had seen a hill in its working life. Whenever we came to a slight gradient we all had to get out and push until we reached the top, when we could get back in for the downhill ride.

When we at last came to the Belgian coastal plain I was feeling tired and tried to get some sleep. I was beginning to doze but the seats were hard and upright and I could not drop off. In desperation I walked to the back of the bus where our golf bags and suitcases were laid out on the floor.

I put my coat down over the bags and stretched out but there was a crack and I felt something give way beneath me. It was a loosely wrapped package and I discovered that it was the beautiful silver trophy which Jim had won. I had snapped the stem clean through.

Jim was not pleased. “I’ve given you half my money and now you’ve cracked my cup,” he spluttered.

The next week I could still not get my game going while Jim was on top form. He won the Belgian Open comfortably and had to give me another cheque. I am glad to say we remained firm friends but whenever I bumped into him at a tournament after this I would ask: “Are we going to have another split Jim?”

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