Details kindly provided by Mike Leek, OBE, Former President of Shirley Golf Club
“What on earth would cause a group of fairly sensible Jewish businessmen, lawyers and other gentlemen bid for a pony-racing track in order to transform it into a golf course?”
Joseph Leek, a low handicap golfer, Eric (my beloved father) and Reginald Leek were longstanding members of North Worcestershire Golf Club at a time when most clubs had a quota on the number of Jewish golfers they would admit, some clubs certainly but furtively had a nil quota.
Joseph Leek moved to live in Solihull, almost opposite a well-known established golf club, very convenient you might think, although his application was backed by two members – it was rejected.
In those days circa 1950 a system of blackballing was used in clubs, each membership interviewer had a black and a white ball, the black was put anonymously into the bag if you rejected the applicant, no comeback and no reason was forthcoming or deemed necessary. It was just so!
Having recently been demobbed from national service in the rank of captain, I was similarly blackballed by a club member. “Our quota of Jews is full!”
These examples and others like them, spurred the founders of Shirley Golf Club to build a “Welcome to All” golf club.
A great non-Jewish friend, estate agent John Peutherer, bid for the racetrack on behalf of his Jewish golfer friends, so that there would be no hint of prospective Jewish involvement. That is how bad things were. Fortunately the bid was a resounding success, the rest is history!
Why are these incidents of great importance? Well, just as there were black and white balls, the founders of this club were determined that Shirley would be a beacon of light against the darkness of prejudice.
I am proud to say that the “open to all decent ladies and gentlemen” slogan has been at the forefront of this club since the very beginning.
Some people gauge a club by the number of scratch golfers it boasts of among its members. I prefer to look at the number of charities that eminate from its members.
We don’t do too badly, the ‘Gentlemen’s Night Out,’ has raised millions over the years for disadvantaged children. Stephen Goldstein’s, ‘Mad Hatter’s Charity,’ sends disabled kids to theme parks and provides special equipment for severely disabled children. One of our members helps run, ‘Guide Dogs For The Blind,’ and of course, our 15 years of organising, ‘Golf For Disabled Children,’ has reached out to thousands of unfortunate kids and given them an escape from their disability for an hour or so.
That is what this club is all about.