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The British Open to play on James Bond's golf course this week

10-Jul-2011 • Bond News

When the 2011 British Open golf championship tees off later this week, fans of the James Bond novels may find some of the holes familiar. The real course for this week's gold major, Royal St. Georges, was the inspiration for Ian Fleming's captivating match between Bond and titular Goldfinger at the fictional 'Royal St Mark's' in the 1959 novel.

Today's edition of The Scotsman carries a long article about the course and its history with 007:

Although the scene in the film was shot at Stoke Poges Golf Club in Berkshire, the two chapters devoted to it in the novel are clearly set at this week's Open venue, where Fleming had been a member for 11 years. Albert and Cyril Whiting, the professional and his son, appeared in the book as Alfred and Cecil Blacking. Bond's caddie, Hawker, was based on Alf Hawkes, the club's leading bagman at the time. Even Bond's "flat, scything action" is thought to have been reminiscent of Fleming, who spent much of his writing career making 007 a romanticised version of himself.

Fleming knew his golf all right. Although only a mid-handicapper, he understood its foibles and the small margin for error in every swing. "The difference between a good golf shot and a bad one," he wrote after one of Bond's approaches found a bunker, "is the same as the difference between a beautiful and a plain woman - a matter of millimetres".

Connery would later write in his memoirs that Goldfinger inspired in him a love of golf that shaped his life. While the film was being shot, he took lessons at nearby Pinewood Studios. He met his second wife, Micheline, when the two were playing at a tournament in Morocco. "I began to see golf as a metaphor for living, for in golf you are basically on your own, competing against yourself and always trying to do better," he wrote. "If you cheat, you will be the loser, because you are cheating yourself. When Ian Fleming portrayed Auric Goldfinger as a smooth cheater, James Bond had no regrets when he switched his golf balls, since to be cheated is the just reward of the cheater."

Fleming also loved the game, which was always a feature of his aristocratic upbringing. When he was a teenager, his granny Katie drove him to the course in a Rolls-Royce so that they could play 18 holes together. In later life, he kept up with his old Etonian schoolfriends, on one occasion donating to their golf society a large chamber pot that he christened "The James Bond All Purpose Grand Challenge Trophy Vase".

Click here to read the whole article at The Scotsman's website.

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