Reginald Cecil Ewing (1910-1973)
Like so many great champions Ewing was born a stones throw from the golf course, in his case it was the world renowned County Sligo links at Rosses Point. Ewing’s grandfather owned the Royal Hotel in Sligo and set his son Tom up in a hotel at Rosses Point which was colloquially just known as ‘Ewings’. His father was a one-handicapper so unsurprisingly Cecil was playing from the age of five with his brothers Aubrey and Harry.
Anderson’s recalling his personal experiences with Cecil Ewing probably provides the best insight into the development of Ewing’s swing from when he was first invited by the Ewing brothers to their hotel in Rosses Point and even at this stage Cecil was a five-handicapper, he goes on:
“.. he had a very wide stance with his right foot turned inwards…he swung the club back very upright and very fast so much so that when his powerful arms and hands..” started the downswing “..the shaft bent like a fishing rod and indeed his left hip seemed to be in danger of being struck by the head of the club..”
However his swing changed dramatically in his early twenties after a toe operation and while slightly incapacitated he tried to swing a club with both feet close together and a shortened backswing and since it flew so straight and long, given his powerful forearms, he literally never returned to his old method. Despite this he had already reached the final of a West of Ireland Championship at the age of eighteen using his full swing method.
Anderson continues to suggest he wasn’t one for practicing in the winter but would arrive for the West of Ireland at his home club and as he moved through the rounds his game would improve exponentially. He:
“.. addressed the ball with an ease and assurance and a freedom of movement that was in rhythm with his swing…never changed his grip or his stance….never influenced by his opponent”
“He could drive a ball two hundred and fifty-yards and it never rose more than ten feet. Similarly he could hit a two or three iron at the same trajectory.”
Clearly Anderson idolised his gift and continued to recount many tales of his ability to conjure up magical yet near impossible recovery shots and when challenged could repeat these shots – surely the mark of a great champion. Ewing was appointed non-playing captain for the 1955 Walker Cup team as a serious illness during which he was hospitalised suggested an end to his playing career. As a tribute they made him captain but he recovered and during the trials it was clear he was playing better than the other members so he was selected instead as a player. Cecil only played in the singles and was comprehensively beaten by J.G. Jackson by 6 and 4 on the Old Course, St. Andrews.
His amateur record is awesome:
West of Ireland: winner – 1930,32,35,39, 1941-43,1945, 1949-50
Walker Cup representative: 1936,38, 1947,49, 1951,55
Irish Close: winner -1948, 1959; runner-up – 1946
Irish Amateur Open: winner – 1948,1951
Amateur Championship: runner-up 1938 [See Pathe News Video – Click here and here]; semi-finalist 1936
Although losing the final of the Amateur Championship to Charles Yates he had acquitted himself well against the American No. 1 losing by only 3/2. In the same year Ewing secured a point in his Walker Cup match against Ray Billows thus cementing their victory which the GB&I team wouldn’t see for another 33 years.
After his playing days he would represent Ireland as a non-playing captain between 1960-1969 during which stage Ireland would come away with two European Amateur Championships in 1965 (Sandwich) and 1967 (Turin).
GUI 1967 Year Book Portraits of Leading Amateurs No. 8 – Cecil Ewing by Paul MacWeeney
The Shell International Encyclopedia of Golf
C.E. Anderson: A Personal Account of Golfing Experiences 1926 – 1986
John Behrend: The Amateur – The Story of The Amateur Championship 1885-1995
Sligo’s Golfing Legend – Cecil Ewing <click here>