The Loop

How Muirfield got its revenge

July 16, 2013

As part of Golf Digest's preview for the 1992 Open at Muirfield, Contributing Editor Peter Andrews penned the classic "Quite Likely the Rudest Club in the World," a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek tweak of Muirfield and its former club secretary, Navy Captain P.W.T. (Paddy) Hanmer. As Andrews wrote, Hanmer had an expansive and explosive personality, and his reign of almost 20 years "had roughly the same effect on Muirfield as Peter the Great did on the Court of the Romanovs." Royalty, major-championship winners and visitors alike were on the receiving end of Hanmer's gruff manner, and Andrews offered plenty of examples (though he did point out "misunderstandings" and other stories that had been burnished through the years).

Fast-forward a decade. Muirfield was scheduled to host the 2002 Open, and Golf Digest planned to shoot photographs of the course to accompany its championship preview. Without Andrews' story in mind, I emailed one of Hanmer's successors, Group Captain J.A. Prideaux, to inquire about an appropriate date when our photographer, Steve Szurlej, might visit the club. Imagine my jaw dropping when the response arrived, starting with this:

Mindful as I am of Golf Digest's headline for its preview of the 1992 Open at Muirfield, I am most surprised that you have the gall and temerity to seek the opportunity to photograph our golf course. For your preview of our 1992 Open, that headline stated, and I quote, "Quite Likely the Rudest Club in the World." Why in the world would you wish to return to such an organisation? However, mindful as I am that you may not have been the Executive Editor of Golf Digest in 1992, and that your headline was as inaccurate then as it is today, I would only be too pleased to welcome Mr. Szurlej to take the photographs which he requires for your 2002 preview.

Prideaux's email went on to provide details, and I had to give him full credit for planting the hook so firmly. As Andrews might say, "Well bowled, sir. Well bowled."