The history of the caddies at Walton Heath in these early days includes strikes, riots, murder, illegal gambling and organized theft. In response came significant labor reform and important contributions to the British war effort in WWI. Both are a testament to the integrity of the club and its employees.
In April of 1923, a “slender Englishman” named Alf Ward walked into the office of Indianapolis mayor Lew Shank. He introduced himself as the new golf professional for city’s municipal club. The mayor sent Alfred out to Irvington with shovels, horses, and a few men. He was to build Pleasant Run, the “finest municipal golf course in the country.”
Alfred was the eighth of twelve children born in 1883 to Thomas James Ward, a Battersea distillery worker and builder’s labourer, and Sarah Courtneidge, a coachman’s daughter from Wimbledon. Alfred got his start in golf working as an assistant to James Braid at Walton Heath Golf Club in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey.
Tom Hancock was an English golf professional with a long and active career in the United States. Born in Richmond, Surrey in 1885, Tom began training in his hometown with J. H. Taylor at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club. He then worked as an assistant to James Braid at Walton Heath, where he knew my great-grandfather Alf Ward.