World Golf Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Tuesday, September 26 2017

John Hopkins

Henry Longhurst Induction Speech

JOHN HOPKINS: One day in the mid 1960s, a letter arrived at the windmills named Jack and Jill that bookended the home of Henry Longhurst, the eminent golf writer and broadcaster. Dear Mr. Longhurst, the letter began, I'm keen on golf and quite good at it and keen on English and quite good at that. How do I become a golf journalist? Within days a reply was on its way, and the gist of it was you write, write, write, and then you write some more. That was what Henry Longhurst did for much of his life until he died age 69, nearly 40 years ago. And it is in part for his writing, mostly in the Sunday Times of London, which he joined in 1932, and to which he remained faithful almost until his death, that we are gathered here tonight. Henry Longhurst invented the golf column in a newspaper and set a record by appearance in the Sunday Times of London every week for 22 successive years, holidays included.

He would write 800 words every Friday morning, and then allow himself a half bottle of Champaign to celebrate. He was as comfortable at that length as he was uncomfortable with short putts. His columns were ripe with wisdom and humor and devoid of pomposity and cant. His admirers were legion. At breakfast on a Sunday morning in the Hopkins household, my mother would read Longhurst with relish and then toss the paper across the table to my father, whizzing it over the butter and making sure it missed the marmalade.

Henry's on form today, she would say. Henry himself attributed his success to the fact that his column appeared in the same position in the paper every week, below the fold on the back page, and that it was of a size suitable to be read in the place that all gentlemen retire to after breakfast each morning.

Golf has been graced by outstanding writers, but few if any made as great a mark as he did in another medium, named television. For years, he would lug his slightly rotund frame up a rickety ladder, there to commentate on golf first for the BBC and then on American television. Longhurst, with pen in hand, was quite a sight. Longhurst with a microphone pressed against his lips was a delight. His exquisite command of English meant that he rarely misspoke and rarely said too many words.

Who can forget, oh, what a corker, as Tony Jacklin's drive pierced the 72nd fairway on his way to victory in the 1969 Open, or his command of the situation where Doug Saunders missed that short putt that would have won him the 1970 Open. Longhurst gave a sharp intake of breath, paused, and then intoned solemnly, and there it is, there but for the grace of God. So here we have a legendary golf writer, a much loved broadcaster, a genial companion at the bar. This talented man was also a member of parliament during the war. He won the seat of Acton in west London against competition from other candidates, one, a man named Sparks. Longhurst's witty campaign slogan was "Vote Longhurst and see Sparks fly."

In 1972, with his popularity on both sides of the Atlantic at a peak, he was honored by Her Majesty the Queen. A CBE is, to give it its full title, a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, shortened, thank God, to Commander of the British Empire. Now somehow that doesn't quite cut it. It doesn't do him justice. He commanded the hearts and minds of far more than just those in the British Empire.

I should make an admission here. I was the spotty-faced boy who wrote to Henry Longhurst all those years ago, and I can't tell you how proud I am that I became a successor of his, albeit a lesser one, as golf correspondent of the Sunday Times.

On behalf of the millions of readers who relished his writing and all those who luxuriated in the rich, fruity voice of his commentaries, I thank Henry Carpenter Longhurst CBE for all that he did for golf and being an all-around good egg, wondrously gifted in so many fields.

As a Briton speaking on behalf of another Briton, I'm going to ask you to indulge me as I do something very British. I'm going to give three cheers for Henry Longhurst for his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and if you'd like to join me then you would be most welcome.

And now I would like to invite Henry Longhurst's granddaughter Jenny Hudson to join me on stage to accept her grandfather's membership crystal.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #166 at 2017-09-27 00:17:00 GMT

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