Alfred Henry Toogood (“AHT”) 1872 – 1928

Born on 1 May 1872 in St. Helen’s on the Isle of Wight to Emily Toogood (nee Wade). He started his golf at the Bembridge links, a course founded in 1882 and which Darwin refers to …Bembridge is most certainly attractive, and that has other and more sterling qualities is shown by the fine players it has produced, the two Toogoods and Rowland Jones amongst them.”

The ‘Cats Cradle’ – Bembridge

AHT started competing in the Open Championship in 1894 at Royal St. George’s (Sandwich), the first time it was played outside Scotland, finishing fourth and leaving illustrious names like Vardon, Braid, Ball, Herd and Fernie in his wake. However this would be AHT’s best performance as he finished ninth, seventeenth and twenty-second in the following three years. A new addition to the family meant he could ill afford the time needed to play tournament golf and concentrated on his bread and butter job as a club professional.

AHT had taken up appointments at the following golf clubs; Eltham Warren (1893-1895), Minchinhampton (1895-1900), Headingly, Leeds (1900-1902), West Essex Golf Club (1902-1907), Tramore (1907-1909) and finally Beckenham, Kent (1909-1911). Testament to his ability as a golfer, despite being referred to a journeyman, was highlighted at an exhibition match at Rockford Hall, in 1904 when he defeated Harry Vardon, James Braid, and Jack White (the reigning Open champion).

Front row (Second from the Right)

Irish International team who played Scotland for the Springvale Bowl in 1907 prior to the inaugural Irish Professional Championship.

Bernard Darwin mentioned Toogood in his book on James Braid when in 1903 he brought Braid to the nineteenth in the third round. Of AHT it is said: “…originally from Bembridge in the Isle of Wight, a golfer of really great possibilities. He never quite lived up to them……”

There were only three to four major professional tournaments around the turn of the century, he won two of them and was beaten finalist [1904] in another (i.e. News of the World) but the Open Championship always alluded him. He died in 1928, at which time his son, Alfred Jnr., emigrated to Australia where he became a relatively successful professional golfer and his grandson (Peter Alfred Toogood) would become one of Australia’s leading amateurs. In 1954 at the British Amateur at Muirfield it was felt he was denied his best opportunity of taking the title in the sixth round. Joe Carr had a very favourable ruling which decided the sixth round match in what was infamously referred to as the “Toogood Incident”. [Partially sourced from Des Tobin’s book – “Simply Toogood”]

Note: Tramore centenary indicates 1906 was the year of appointment but AHT was still entering competitions as a West Essex player in 1907.

Toogood would become a cropper when he tried to disprove the “eye on the ball theory” with an exhibition of blindfold golf. As expected his attempts to disprove the theory went spectacularly wrong.