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January 2013

The Hesketh, the 1936 Olympics and the Hitler Golf Trophy

After obtaining 'the Hesketh' putter, I inquired as to its history directly from the Hesketh Golf Club in west central England. The club, established in 1885, is one of the top 100 on the island. The gooseneck, wood shafted putter was produced for Tim Simpson, pro at the club, between 1920 and 1930. What really makes it interesting is a bit of history surrounding the club as it relates to Adolph Hitler in the 1936 Olympics.

1936 - Olympics and golf

Everyone knows that Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and that Hitler expected the 'master race' to dominate the event. While the show was spectacular, the most memorable performances were by non-german athletes, a disappointment to the Reich but a validation of individualistic hard work and talent, regardless of ethnicity.

What many don't know is that Hitler commissioned a golf tournament in Baden-Baden shortly after the Olympics. Golf was played in the Olympics in 1900 and 1904 but was discontinued, probably because only a couple of countries entered teams ( golf has been restored for the 2016 Olympics in hopes of driving up TV revenues ). In the1936 golf event, 7 of the 36 countries invited to compete fielded 2 man teams each playing 72 holes. The GOLFPREIS DER NATIONEN was played on August 26 and 27th with a Hesketh player, Arnold Bentley, and Bridlington Golf Club’s Tommy Thirsk representing England. Through 54 holes, the germans had the lead by 3 strokes over the British and Hitler's foreign minister von Ribbentrop dispatched to Hitler that the germans would prevail. Hitler set out by car to make the personal presentation but was met by von Ribbentrop enroute to relay the bad news that England had come back and won the event. The german team came in third behind France. Upset at another setback to the master race, the fuhrer had a representative make the presentation.

The Trophy

The first place trophy, donated by Hitler, was an impressive silver-gilt salver, inlaid with eight large amber discs, created in the workshop of goldsmith Professor Emil Lettre, who had been appointed to the Berlin Court by Kaiser Wilhelm. Amber was selected by the jeweler as it was recognized as a true German stone, found primarily along the southern shores of the Baltic.

After the event, the trophy whereabouts changed several times but in 2012, the current owner sold it through an auction house. The Hesketh Golf Club won the auction and has it on display in their clubhouse.


The above summary was excerpted from a comprehensive, historically factual writeup sent to me by Hesketh President Derek Holden in late 2012. His writeup was entitled "Adolph, Arnold and Tommy - Golf and the 1936 Olympics - Myth, Mystery and Fact".