The Lucifer Golfing Society

The Lucifer Golfing Society began life in December 1921 as a small club of 60 members – like-minded men who would enjoy each other’s company playing golf and in fine dining. The word “Lucifer” is a play on the First World War slang for a match, but the Society’s emblem has always reflected its other meaning – the devil.

In 1927, the Society wrote to every leading golf club in the Empire inviting participation in a tournament to be held in 1928 at Sunningdale Golf Club. The letter promised competitors ”a jolly day and an evening they are not likely to forget”, the intention being twofold: to reciprocate hospitality received by Lucifers when holidaying in Empire countries and to foster goodwill and  friendship within the Empire through golf and accompanying hospitality.

On 27 June, 1928, 97 competitors from 18 countries within the Empire gathered at Sunningdale Golf Club for the inaugural Empire Overseas Tournament.  Each competitor played two medal rounds in the day, followed, that same evening, by dinner at the Savoy Hotel in full evening dress. The winner was Commander H. MacMaster, R.N., from Durban. In the years that followed, the Tournament and Dinner grew in size and renown, with the great South African golfer and four times Open Championship winner Bobby Locke winning the Empire Trophy as an amateur in 1936.

Bobby Locke and Empire Trophy, 1936.

Interrupted only by war and Covid pandemic, the Tournament, now called the Commonwealth Tournament, has continued to flourish. It comprises two stableford rounds off handicap – followed by a formal dinner at the Savoy, at which wives and partners of competitors from overseas and of Lucifers are warmly welcomed. In the days surrounding the Tournament, Lucifers and their wives host golf at other courses within reach of London to make up what has become a festival of golfing fun and friendship, and which includes a sightseeing day out in London for non-golfing ladies.

In a number of countries, Overseas Lucifers have been appointed to help to promote the Commonwealth Tournament, which they do with great commitment and enthusiasm. In Australia and Canada, societies have been formed of those who have travelled to the UK for a Commonwealth Tournament. Each of these societies – Match Club in Sydney, Swan Vestas in Perth, Vesuvians in Melbourne and Maple Leaf Strikers in Toronto – has at least one meeting a year, with members playing for a trophy donated by the Lucifers. Since the year 2000 there have been eighteen Lucifer tours to Commonwealth countries, the tourists being accorded the most generous hospitality.

In November, 2021, the Society began the celebration of its Centenary with a magnificent dinner in the Long Room at Lord’s for Lucifers and their wives. The celebrations continued in June and July 2022; more than 160 competitors from the Commonwealth overseas participated in the Commonwealth Tournament at Sunningdale and West Hill, and there was a reception at Windsor Castle, hosted by our Patron Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence, the Centenary Tournament Dinner at the Savoy and other celebratory golfing and non-golfing events.

The Empire Tournament Dinner of 1928.

The Lucifer Golfing Society remains a small society, with 100 playing members enjoying a full programme of domestic golf and dinners and in every respect meeting the aspirations of its founding fathers. The commitment to fostering goodwill and friendship within the Commonwealth is as strong as ever and it is this more than anything that sets the Society apart from any other.