John Woollam

A player whose superb record seems to have been almost forgotten is John Woollam. He emerged in the 1930s, playing out of the Hooton Golf Club. The Hooton club was located near Little Sutton, and although it appeared to be thriving with over 200 members in the 1930s, it didn't survive the war and was disbanded in 1940.

Woollam was to win two English Amateur Championships, two Swiss Amateur Championships and the Dutch Championship, and he played regularly for England.

His first major win was the English Amateur at Ganton in 1933. In the quarter-final he beat the former champion, Eric Fiddian, and went on to defeat J.T.Bourne in a final that was hardly an exhibition of quality golf.

Woollam (left) with J.T. Bourne prior to the final of the 1933 English Amateur at Ganton

The final at Ganton, played over 36 holes, was widely reported as much for the dire quality of the golf as for the result. It would seem both players were frequent visitors to the gorse, particularly in the morning round. Wollam, however, played far better golf in the afternoon, the highlight of the round coming at the 13th, where his second shot finished perched in the gorse at waist height. He took a swish at it with his niblick, and the ball came to rest two yards from the hole. In went the putt and Woollam went on to secure a victory that delighted a contingent of jubilant Hooton members who carried him aloft from the course.

Woollam and the crowd search for his ball in the Ganton gorse.

 

Woollam, who ran a business in Liverpool, must have enjoyed travelling, for he had overseas wins in Europe. He won the Swiss Amateur in 1933 and '34, and also won the Dutch Amateur in 1934 at The Hague Golf Club.

Below: a report of the 1933 final, alongside a swing sequence of John Woollam that appeared in an article on technique by Gene Sarazen

John Woollam admires the painting of him by John A.A. Berrie R.C.A, who also painted the
famous portrait of Bobby Jones

Woollam secured his second English Amateur title in 1935 at Notts G.C. (Hollinwell). In the semi-final he disposed of the holder, Stanley Lunt, by an impressive 5&4 margin. The final saw Woollam again taking on Eric Fiddian of Stourbridge, who he beat 2&1 in another match low on quality (see press reports below)

Woollam at the 1935 English Amateur

Woollam putts in the final with Fiddian, 1935

Woollam receives the English Amateur Championship trophy at Hollinwell, 1935

Fiddian, perhaps favoured because the Walker Cup captain Dr Bill Tweddell and he were both Stourbridge G.C. members, made two Walker Cup appearances. Despite his obvious class and dominance in England, underpinned by two national championships, Woollam, like his Cheshire compatriot Bill Sutton, was somehow never selected for the Walker Cup.

Eric Fiddian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woollam played 20 times for England and appeared regularly for the county team, but never managed to feature in the County Championship. He was runner-up in the 1931 County Foursomes at Royal Liverpool. He was also the course record holder at Hooton, with a score of 67.

Later in life, Woollam became a noted and successful trainer of showjumping horses.

Woollam wins in Holland (click to enlarge)