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The 1908 British Ladies Championship

Mabel Stringer in “Golfing Reminiscences, 1924 ” reports on the semifinal between Cecil Leitch  and Maud Titterton…….

“I do not suppose that any of us who saw the match between her (Cecil Leitch) and Maud Titterton will ever forget it, nor the two incidents at the 17th and 18th holes.  Maud Titterton was dormie two, Cecil Leitch holed a very long putt at the 17th, and the huge crowd so completely lost control over its feelings that a burst of applause and continuous cheering broke from it.  This ill-timed spontaneous applause frightened a young horse in a two wheeled cart standing in the road, and he bolted among the crowd, causing a regular stampede. It was not to be wondered at that Maud Titterton missed her putt for a half, and they went on to the home hole.  Here she had her reward, revenge, call it what we will, for her ball hit the stone bridge over the Swilcan, bounded over it, and she thus secured the hole and the match.  Behind them Dorothy Campbell was "up against it"  in the person of Hilda Mather, and they had to go to the 22nd hole before Dorothy entered the final.

She went on to talk about meeting "Old"  Tom Morris outside his shop and then said "I will pass on now to the greatest final it has ever been my lot to witness” (And Mabel Stringer had been at just about every final from 1893 until she wrote her book in 1924) 

“The opponents were Maud Titterton and Dorothy Campbell.  The hour from the start was postponed to three o'clock, as Miss Campbell had had such a prolonged struggle in the forenoon, so that by that hour thousands of people had assembled round the first tee, the crowd stretching right away down to and beyond the first green,  the schools were given a holiday, all the shops were shut, and no one attended to any business, for much more important  affairs were taking place on the old course.  At that time it constituted a record crowd even for St Andrews, and must have numbered nine to ten thousand people.  I don't know how on earth I should have managed to see anything to report to the daily papers, for which I was at that time special correspondent.  (snip)  Suddenly in the middle of the match - we were about the 11th hole as far as I can remember - a terrific storm of hail and wind descended, drenching everyone and changing the character and surface of the greens, which were in some places converted into miniature ponds, and at one hole cost Miss Titterton dear.  She was again lucky at the 18th, as in the morning, when her ball ran the Swilcan.  All square on the 18th Hole, they played the 19th.  Here Miss Titterton nearly holed in 3 and won the Championship.

Eleanor Helme on the final between Maud Titterton and Dorothy Campbell

“Miss Titterton won because she was a born fighter, who refused to think of defeat as a possiblility and played the most courageous shots out of apparently impossible places. The supreme incident of the afternoon came at the 16th, where Miss Titterton pushed her drive out on to the railway.  In those days the railway was not out of bounds: "the ball must be played wherever it lies or the hole given up" was the ruling idea.  Over the railings the lady climbed, long skirt notwithstanding, filled with the stoutest conviction that she could and would get that ball out, back on the fairway and within sight of the hole.  It lay right up, not only against the sleeper, but against the iron chair supporting the rail.   She took her iron, she kept her head down, she smote the ball.  Out it sailed, a good 140 yards on to the fairway.  Miss Titterton won at the 19th hole and the Scottish Golfers cheered because after all she had learnt her golf at Musselburgh, and the English cheered because although her golf was Scotch her birth was English, and everybody combined to cheer because she had played real fighting golf - match-play golf, which made mistakes and picked them up again, and was never downhearted.

Cecil Leitch in “Golfing” on the 19th in the final

“Away players and spectators went again to the first tee.  This hole known as the Burn, is 365 yards, and short of the green is the Swilcan Burn, a death trap for unwary second shots.  Miss Campbell played short with her second, and Miss Titterton had to decide whether she would do the same or "go for it".  It was a terribly anxious problem.  On her decision might hang the issue of the Championship.  Her caddy, a typical St Andrews one, put her brassie in her hand.  Miss Titterton demurred, but the caddie insisted. "Well" said Miss Titterton, "I don't think I can do it, but if I do, I'll give you £5."  The caddie was justified, Miss Titterton carried the burn and won the Championship, and with it the admiration of all for a lion-hearted shot at the crisis of the match.”

  This page published by Gillian Kirkwood