Gloria Minoprio Lady in Black 1933 Play Better Golf

By Lewine Mair

As you’re in lockdown and missing the usual diet of spring golf outings, you might enjoy the story of old Bill Adwick, father of that famous coach, Ken.

Old Bill (you have no idea of the search entailed in finding his christian name) turned up to play in the Over 80s division of the British Seniors’ in 1970 at Longniddry when his father was playing in the event proper.

On the day of the Over 80s division, the ancient one stole the show. At 83, he handed in a 78, a score which saw him finishing top in his division. It might not have made for such a great tale today, when people tend to live longer, but that week the other professionals could talk about little else. Everyone wanted to know the old man’s secret and the son did not mind giving it away. “Dad’s idea of a good practice is to sit and think,” said Ken. “Sometimes, he does it for hours at a time, telling himself over and over that he’s going to hit down the middle of every fairway and hole every putt.” (It is also worth mentioning that he benefited from living in a residence for the elderly which boasted three holes of golf.)

Before the days of the internet, newspaper cuttings were apt to be pinned to a board in the press tent the following morning. However, when the journalists arrived for work on the day in question, the board was bare.

The press officer could explain. From his seat in the corner, he admitted to having watched, unseen, as old Mr Adwick crept into the tent and made off with every cutting in sight.

THE LADY IN BLACK

The late Gloria Minoprio was another to survive on mind-games, spooking her opponents before their matches had ever started. For those of you who wonder how she did it, the answer is that she would arrive at the last minute and dressed as a stage demon. Her outfit would be black, her face a deathly white, her lips scarlet and her expression distant. As for her equipment, she, or rather her caddie, carried just the one iron.

Her most famous appearance was in the English championship at Westward Ho in 1933, when she reached the second round after defeating a terrified creature by name of Betty Sommerville. “It was like playing a supernatural being,” said Betty.

Gloria only lost her next round at the 19th and, although she made a final appearance in 1939, she thereafter repaired to India and where she made a good living for herself as a conjurer before living out her days in the Bahamas.

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