Bobby Locke and Tommy Bolt In Rome During WWII
In this photo, taken sometime after June 1944, South African Air Force Lieutenant Bobby Locke takes a shot, while Private Tommy Bolt watches. The photo was taken at a Services Golf Tournament in Rome. The photo credit from Wiki Commons says it was taken between 1939 and 1945, but as Rome was not liberated until June 5, 1944, it would have to be from that date onward.
The course may possibly be the Rome Golf Club, which dates to 1904. There is a good story about the club on its website:
On 22 January 1944 the Allies landed at Anzio, the Wehrmacht occupied the club house and the course. Camp were armed by the Germans on the river Almone valley but fortunately respected the greens and did not bring damages to the clubhouse. Oddly the Allied’s Spitfire and P-48 spared this German camp. It was then asked some pilots why they had not bombed that German settlement so visible. Laughingly they replied: “We would have been crazy to destroy the only golf course of 18 holes south of Florence….”
On June 4, 1944 General Clark liberated Rome and after a few days golfing resumed. The Club was now ‘invaded’ by festive Allies, many of them golf players. Lord Alexander, Field Marshal Montgomery, General Clark and General Patton all visited Acquasanta. Officers and Members mixed well and club life restarted with the carefree joy that was the hallmark of the post-war period, although war was still raging on in the north of Italy.
Bobby Locke is considered by some to be the best putter who ever lived. He won four Open Championships, nine South African Opens, seven South African PGA Championships and 15 PGA TOUR events. Locke was banned from the PGA TOUR in 1949, officially for not meeting playing commitments. It is also possible, however, that he was the victim of jealousy from other PGA TOUR players who thought, as Claude Harmon said “Locke was simply too good. They had to ban him.”
Tommy Bolt was a fine player of whom Ben Hogan said “If we could’ve screwed another head on his shoulders, Tommy Bolt could have been the greatest who ever played.” At issue was Bolt’s legendary temper, which involved some notable outbursts. Still, Bolt managed to win fifteen times on the PGA TOUR in spite of not starting until age 34. He was still competing at age 55, when he finished third in the 1971 PGA Championship.
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