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Dexter v Crawley

The redoubtable and apparently ageless John Woodcock, Times cricket correspondent extraordinaire of yore, has sent me two golf related extracts from his personal archive. The first was a scorecard he kept when I was lucky enough to have 18 holes of golf with Sir Donald Bradman in 1963. The Don was 1 handicap at the time and I was three. On a par 72 course the scores were 73 and 75 respectively – which is of no great significance or worthy of debate.
The more recent “blast from the past” concerned a difference of opinion on the subject of relative skills at golf and cricket – i.e. who deserved the accolade of best ever Cricketing Golfer? JW wrote in 1976 that it was Edward Dexter – eliciting strong reaction from those contemporaries of Leonard Crawley who would have none of it.
The famed Walker Cupper Laddy Lucas was the strongest in championing the Crawley cause with vibrant memories involving International golfing prowess on one day, followed by high class batsmanship for Essex the next. His case was weakened only marginally when JW had to point out a number of factual inaccuracies – such as these feats occurring a couple of years apart rather than on consecutive days.
I was privileged to play more than a round or two with Leonard and can vouch for his wonderful striking, the product of a slow and powerful swing which was the envy of all who saw him. He was long past his best competitive days and his putting was on the wane by then but he usually came out on top nevertheless. Living close by Royal Worlington GC, home to generations of Cambridge University golfers, he was prone to pop out onto the course of an afternoon and give us a tip or two. We were always glad to see the great man and listen to what he had to say.
The Dexter/Crawley argument can come down to semantics , with one critic pursuing a line of argument distinguishing CricketING Golfer from CricketER Golfer: rather splitting hairs in my book. The way I see it is pretty simple in essence i.e. I achieved more at cricket and Leonard achieved more at golf. In fact Leonard achieved more at cricket than I ever did at golf. So on that reckoning Crawley is the winner.
However I will now go in to bat for myself. Leonard only played top level “Amateur” golf. He won an “English Amateur” but not “The (British)Amateur” which has an International field. The only “Open” golf mention in Wikipedia is as runner up in the French. I, on the other hand, mixed it with the professionals all my cricketing career (though designated an “amateur”) playing International cricket at the highest level. The pinnacle of my career was to be rated number 2 batsman in the world in 1963 – ahead of Kanhai, Cowdrey, Barrington, Lawry and co, second only to the mighty G.StA.Sobers. My points rating was only 32 behind Sobers. Kanhai's was 83 behind mine. There is little to suggest that Leonard could have claimed any such lofty position in the world panoply of golf
The only point at which my golf can be compared directly with Leonard's is our relative performances in the President's Putter. He won 4 to my 2 but curiously, in an all time “Putter” points table devised by John Littlewood, sole chronicler of such ephemera, I rate one point ahead of Leonard behind the greats of a previous golden era Ernest Holderness and Roger Wethered .
So you pays your money and takes your choice. As so many arguments do, it all depends where you are coming from.