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The Hitler Trophy Golf and the Olympic Games By Alan Fraser

Release date: 16th May, 2016
Publisher: Floodlit Dreams

List Price: £9.99
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Four years ago, Derek Holden, president of Hesketh Golf Club in Southport, raised £15,000 to outbid the German Golf Archive at auction and buy the ‘Golf Prize of Nations Trophy’ in honour of Arnold Bentley, a Hesketh member who, with his playing partner Tommy Thirsk, won the trophy in 1936.

Visitors to Southport’s oldest golf club can see the silverware on display and now, thanks to Alan Fraser’s meticulously-researched book, sports fans, as well as anyone else who enjoys a wonderful tale (mooted to have piqued Hollywood’s interest), can read how Messrs Bentley and Thirsk ensured Hitler’s attempt to extract maximum propaganda from a golf tournament backfired.

Golf returns to the Olympics later this year following a 112-year absence and, while the sport did not form part of the 1936 Olympiad, because Hitler was keen to display the supreme prowess of his ‘Master Race’ in non-Olympic sports, he commanded Karl Henkell, president of the German Golf Union and brother-in-law of foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, to create an international golf tournament. The prize would be a silver salver replete with Hitler’s imprint.

A week after the Olympics ended, seven two-man teams, including Bentley and Thirsk, teed off at a course in Baden-Baden.

Over the opening rounds, the German pairing of Leonard von Beckerath and C.A. Helmers dominated; by the end of the third round, they were three shots ahead of the field and seemingly en route to victory. Their commanding lead prompted von Ribbentrop to send word to Hitler that, as the home team were certain of success, he should travel from Berlin to present the trophy and take advantage of the opportunity to confirm Germany’s apparent natural supremacy in the sporting world.

Yet as Hitler set off from Berlin, so Bentley and Thirsk staged a remarkable final round comeback to win the tournament by four strokes from France; the Germans finished third, 12 shots behind. As the final round drama unfolded and it became evident that the Germans would not win, von Ribbentrop raced to intercept Hitler as he headed towards the country’s south-west; a furious Fuhrer ordered his chauffeur to turn around and head back to the capital, leaving Henkell to award the ‘Hitler Trophy’ to the British pairing.

The trophy was unearthed in Glasgow in 2004, at which point Derek Holden, a former playing partner of Bentley, resolved to bring it back to Hesketh.

This marvellously engaging tale may appear tailor-made for the silver screen, but The Hitler Trophy also offers an unbeatable read.


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