At first read, this name would signify, you would imagine, an addiction to the game of Golf. This Society, founded in 1949, was all about thumbing noses at the British, for imposing prohibition in the Madras Presidency!!
WHO WE ARE?
We are like the nomads of the steppes. We have no home but every Clubhouse in Madras, Ootacamund, Kodaikanal, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Coorg, Mysore, Vishakapatnam & Hyderabad is our home. We play at these centres thanks to the largesse of the members of those Clubs and we are eternally grateful for their patronage. We go overseas once a year, in May, to add “spice” to the experience!
An invitation member must have a handicap of 18 or below, must play in 4 meets out of the 1st ,10, he is eligible to play in, score 20 or more stableford points, stay for all rounds and dinners and importantly, be seen bending his elbow! At age 65, with 10 years under the belt, one becomes an Honorary Member, an honour that awaits many of us, soon enough!
We have had many a stalwart as our Captain, the 1st Indian being the redoubtable, KS Vaidyanathan in 1963. M.Meyappan, R.Ratnam, George Zachariah, G.Rajagopal, PS Kashyap, Dilip Thomas, Raian Irani, Saam Chinoy, Ashoka Katakam, KJ Ramaswamy, VJ Bharath, MA Cariappa, V Rajendran are some of our members who have led this Society.
The Secretary of the Society is called the “Scribe” and our current Captain is K.Krishnakumar from Ooty. He leads a Managing Council of 15 of us, from the 9 centres.
K.R.N (Ravi) Menon, one of our antients from South India and a past Captain of the Society, writes in the book “A Golden Jubilee of Golf – 1949- 1999, ” Rumour has it that the founding Members wrote up the Bye- Laws while sitting with their thirst quenching libations in the Guindy golf course annexe of the Madras Gymkhana Club and tried to keep the Rules as simple as could. With the introduction of prohibition in 1949, those desirous of partaking liquor had to register as an addict. Our founder RC Paterson and friends realized that 18 holes of golf would be lost if there were no 19th and therefore they registered as “addicts” and formed a Society with golf being the focal point. The conviviality of the 19th hole takes precedence over the capacities exhibited by swinging the club over the preceding eighteen. In other words, more power to the elbow! The objective is to get together in the name of Golf and have Fun.”
R.C.Paterson (Fat Pat as he was known) was born in the U.K and came out to India in 1926. Having settled in Madras, he worked with M/S. Hewson & Tod and in 1935 founded Paterson & Co, which till today remains a leading Stock broking firm! He retired as Chairman of Consolidated Coffee Ltd in 1960 and passed on into the Great Divide in 1985. Co-founders were L.D.Miller of King and Patridge, W.P.Blakeslay of Thomas Cook, A.B.Spence of Peermade Tea Co, Travancore, T.B.Lawrence and J.Jackson of Kanan Devan Tea, Munnar.
The original idea was to keep the Society to about a 100 so that they could still meet when they repatriated back to Blightly. The very fact that, we are, today, in 2018, almost 1200 strong and thriving, is a testimony to the ideals of our founder, so beautifully captured in our song “I am a member of the Addicts and Golf is my game. I cannot chip, I cannot putt but I play it just the same. I play not for the glory, I play not for the Cup, I Play for what’s inside it, I hope there’ll be enough. Easy does it, easy does it”.
In 1877, Col. Ross Thomson and his band of merry men would play 7 holes at Island Grounds, Madras, ride 13 kms on horseback to Guindy, play 4 holes, ride back to Island Grounds and complete 18! Mount Road at Madras is 400 years old, so it is safe to assume they did not take the scenic route! Still, assuming it took 2 hours each way to ride, golf was a whole day affair and folks, today, complain if we take off for 5 hours!!!!! It was natural that our founder, chose the Madras Gymkhana Club as the home of the Society.
The Society has no clubhouse and the Madras Gymkhana Club is our HQ and where the AGM is held. The colours of the Society are Desert Brown (sand browns of those days anyone?) and Green (of the palm tree between the 3rd and 7th fairways at Guindy).
As readers will know, the tradition at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St.Andrews is that the incoming Captain drives into office on 1st/18th fairway to the sound of a cannon, timed perfectly. Our Society has a play on this tradition, the incoming Captain of the Society, assumes his captaincy by hitting a ball, teed up on a matchbox, across the Adyar river from inside the Cosmopolitan Golf Club, over a 15-foot wall!
HOOKS & SLICES (from our Golden Jubilee book)
- The dress code for the Dinner Function on the Saturday of the meet is formal.
- Members are required to wear an Addicts tie, pin or scarf at the prize distribution function and failure to do so, costs them Rs 50 as a fine.
- The Captain has to regale us with a joke or two, so Captains spend their year boning up on jokes of all kinds!
- The winner of the trophy is required to fill it with all forms of molasses and pass it around for a swig from “the Cup”.
- The Annual Meetings of the Society were followed by a “multi course sit-down dinner” interspersed by toasts proposed by the Captain, to the President of India, to the Society, to the Queen and to the Royal and Ancient Game. This has been done away with over the past few years, much to the chagrin of many of us “old-timers” but respect we must, the passing of time and with it, changes that are needed to be made.
- The Addicts Song that would be sung after the toast to the Society is now sung (read brayed unless its Jayshree Bharat leading the pack) after much imbibing from the Cup, to mark the closing of the meet!
- The phrase “Easy Does It” – the motto of the Society – is relevant on all 19 holes!
THE WOODEN SPOON
For those of you, not familiar with the wooden spoon, this is the most coveted prize of all, for the worst score of the meet. Circa, early 60’s, Parry & Co had donated, a western style closet as a prize, for the worst score. The late VT Kumaraswamy removed the wrapping, blocked the hole and filled it with beer, passed it around as the drinking cup and had the last laugh! It is rumoured that to prevent this, a wooden spoon was introduced!!!
This is a Society, like none other than I have seen in my 4 decades (and more) of playing this game. I am “tankful” to my late father “Tiger” Rama Rao for introducing me to this game and making me a true Addict!
(much of the material for this Column comes from the Golden Jubilee book, authored by KRN Menon and my own memories from the 70’s onwards, travelling to the Addicts with my father)