Guest Post – George Sargent: The Forgotten Golfing Innovator

Idly flipping via the pages of a golf collectables guide at Gloucester antiques centre lately, I paused and regarded once more. There in black and white was the signature of my great-great-uncle George Sargent. I had by no means met him and till my sister started a household tree a number of years in the past lots of our ancestors and tales had been an unstated thriller.

The guide states that George’s signature was price $350 in 2004. Additional down the checklist, eager golfer Frank Sinatra’s signature is listed at $100 much less. 

Utilizing census, start, marriage and dying, and marriage data we had found that George was born at Brockham, Surrey in 1882, was knowledgeable golfer, and had gained the US Open in 1909. However what had lead him to America? Why is my sports activities loving father so disparaging about ‘glof’ as he phrases the sport, and why did I examine George introducing using movement footage to check the golf swing when there appeared to be no apparent proof that he had performed so?

In 1886 George Jonathan Sargent was an creative, playful 4 12 months outdated residing with his mom Amelia, father William, Alfred his 5 12 months outdated brother, and child sister Rose Edith, my paternal nice grandmother.

The household moved to Epsom quickly after Rose was born and George started imitating the golfers on the close by Epson Down Golf Membership, looking for out little spherical stones and straight sticks with a criminal on the finish simply the suitable measurement to follow with.

George usually popped onto the course and shortly turned a caddy, carrying golf equipment, fetching stray balls and finishing up varied duties. His father William labored onerous, lengthy hours as a maltster to assist the household. The stress on George to earn extra cash in a steady job should have elevated when brother William was born in 1894.

George was hardworking, keen to study and had clearly made an impression on the membership. Thomas McWatt took the enthusiastic teenager beneath his wing, and earlier than his twelfth birthday George had begun a six 12 months apprenticeship as a golf membership maker with the skilled golfer.

By the age of sixteen George was flourishing on the sport and McWatt, together with famed golfer Harry Vardon, inspired him to a fairly distinctive customary and he later proudly declared that ‘I may maintain my very own with any scratch man’.

Harry Vardon took George to Canton golf membership up in Yorkshire the place he developed his sport, discovered easy methods to train golf and easy methods to handle and design golf programs.

He then moved again to Esher, Surrey to be coached by Sir Edgar Vincent. His first sport as a professional was at Muirfield in Scotland. By the tip of the primary spherical he was in fifth place. It created fairly the thrill and Harry Vardon later commented that everybody was strolling spherical asking ‘Who the blazes is that this Sargent?’.

Nice issues had been predicted for the younger prodigy. After shifting to Dewsbury in Yorkshire and profitable a number of prizes, George competed within the prestigious ‘Open Championship’ at St Andrews, ending in an astonishing fourth place.

By 1905 George felt he had outgrown the UK professional circuit and moved to the Royal Ottawa Golf Membership in Quebec, Canada, forsaking his pregnant mom and single pregnant sister.

George and Beatrice on their marriage ceremony day 1907. Courtesy of Carol Hitchcock granddaughter of the couple.

In 1907 George returned to England to marry Beatrice Marguerite Pearce in Battersea and she or he joined him in Ottawa later that summer time.

A fruitful few years adopted and George turned a professional in New England on the course he had helped design – Hyde Manor Lodge in Vermont.

In 1908 their first son, Alfred, was born in Quebec and in 1909 George left Beatrice in Liverpool as he sailed for New York on The Mauritania.

George put his time to good use practising, however fared very badly on the US Championship at Myopia. Feeling he may do nothing proper he tore up his card in disgust; ‘After I cooled off and noticed how unhealthy nearly everybody else was I spotted my mistake, and promptly made up my thoughts I had torn up my final card.’

He put in weeks extra follow in preparation for the US Open Championship and a few days at Backyard Metropolis. Then one thing occurred, ‘I commenced to develop a feeling I used to be going to win; that feeling by no means left me, and even once I began the primary spherical 6555, which was sufficient to dishearten anybody, I by no means misplaced confidence.’ He decided to enhance through the afternoon, began badly, improved then spent the remainder of the match taking part in a tightly nudged sport with MacNamara. On the ninth gap he heard clapping and somebody stated ‘You’re degree with MacNamara’ and a good friend suggested he saved cool. George felt no pleasure ‘I may need been fabricated from wooden for all the sensation I had, there was only one decided object in my head to win.’

And by George did he win! He heard an amazing ovation from the Gallery and realised he had performed the unthinkable.

He later modestly thanked his ‘brother professional’s’ for his or her beneficiant congratulations, ‘I had come amongst them nearly a whole stranger, and I thank all of them for my variety reception.’

George proudly wrote ‘Golf Champion’ as his career on the 1910 USA census. He performed in one other fifteen US Opens ending six instances within the high ten, and gained each the 1912 Canadian Open and 1918 Minnesota State Open. Different achievements beckoned other than championships, because the household dotted round America popping throughout the border to Canada and again to England intermittently with a steadily rising household.

George moved to the Chevy Chase Nation membership as head professional for seven years, then to Minneapolis, Ohio and Columbus, continually re-designing and refining the programs he performed on.

George was a member of the Skilled Golfers Affiliation Of America from its beginnings and in 1921 was honoured to grow to be the third president, a submit he held for 5 years.

Number of adverts. Courtesy Stephen Guyot,

Throughout his time at Chevy Chase he was additionally busy designing, manufacturing and selling his personal vary of golf golf equipment.

A properly groomed mustachioed George stares from the posters;
‘Hit Laborious and Look Spiteful, is what it’s a must to do with most golf equipment, Smile and Take it Simple, is all you want with the Champion Golf equipment.’

Through the Nineteen Twenties George was assured sufficient along with his educating to offer golf classes on the radio and this seemingly batty thought could have led him to his subsequent innovation.

C Francis Jenkins with considered one of his shifting picture innovations. Picture: Wikipedia

Someday earlier than 1930 he had met C Francis Jenkins, a pioneer in movement image equipment in addition to the event of tv. A number of years earlier than, George had begun finding out the golf swing with an extremely centered eye, utilizing stereoscope images to analyse the science of stance, grip and angle.

We will solely think about his pleasure at discovering that Jenkins had developed a film digicam that took an unbelievable 3200 photographs a second. On the time an peculiar digicam took solely 16. George defined to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that he and Francis may take ‘3200 footage a second on 200 ft of movie’ slowing ‘a golf swing down from one thing like one second to 4 minutes’. That is an achievement that OB Keebler described within the paper of 1930 as ‘a very powerful improvement, I suppose, in all of the historical past of golf, as far as the educating of this complicated and baffling sport is anxious.’

George selected his three topics expertly, Harry Vardon his mentor and outdated fashion golfer, Bobby Jones a more recent buck on the block, and Miss Joyce Wethered ‘the best female golfer who ever lived’. 

Bobby Jones age 14, Miss Joyce Wethered in 1953, Harry Vardon. Photos: Wikipedia

There have been solely 4 of those wonderful cameras on the planet and the movie was produced by the PGAA; it should have break the bank contemplating the quantity of movie used. Across the identical time George, ever the innovator, was experimenting on equipment to ‘weigh’ a golf swing and by 1939 he had developed a cobbled-together machine that did simply that. Together with evaluation of champions’ heights and weights, he calculated that the optimum swing for a win was 22° between the golfer’s physique and the golf membership, all clearly demonstrated in Fashionable Science journal.

Having pieced collectively George’s articles and quotes, I now have the proof of his early innovation utilizing movement footage to analyse golf strategies. The movie that he labored on exhibiting his three chosen topics might be discovered on Youtube:

<div class="fetch fetch–youtube"><iframe width="200" peak="150" src="" frameborder="0" enable="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen title="1930 Swing Evaluation of Joyce Wethered, @01:36 Bobby Jones, and @03:57 Harry Vardon"></iframe></div>

George and Beatrice had 10 surviving youngsters; a number of went on to be golf execs, lecturers and course designers. 

George helped form the way forward for golf via his utility of modern, sensible scientific innovations. Maybe it’s due to his self-effacing, collaborative nature that a lot of his story has remained undocumented till now?

Heather Tweed is an artist, author and educator. She has spent 5 years scouring dusty manuscripts and unopened tomes, bringing to life a outstanding characters from the previous.

Hyperlinks and sources:

Nationwide Library Of Congress catalogue, 35 stereographs of well-known golfers demonstrating golf strategies:

How I gained The Open Championship, George Sargent, American Golfer 1909:…

Golf The Correct Method, The American Golfer, Vol 3 No. 6 April 1910:…

This Sport Of Golf, Sarasota Herald Tribune, August fifth 1930:…

The Nice Golf Corridor Of Fame:…

Golf Membership Patents 1935, George Sargent & William H Vaughn:…

Novel Scale “Weighs” Golf Swing, Fashionable Science August 1939:…

The Proper Golf equipment and Balls:…

Evaluation of Golf Swing movie from Youtube video (above)

Gilchrist’s Information to Golf Collectibles, Roger E Gilchrist & Mark Emerson, iGuide Media, Inc. 2004

Golf Membership Patents, Sargent George, William H Vaughan, submitting date Sept 4, 1935,
Serial No. 40,089:…

Epsom and Ewell Historical past Explorer, George Jonathan Sargent 1882-1962 Hazel Ballan 2012



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