I had the pleasure of playing with Mr Ebenezer Stamps, known affectionately as just “Eb”, on Colin Wyatt’s Captains Day last Saturday. This was exactly fifty years after Eb had played his first Captains Day at Southend Golf Club when Saul Knight was the Captain in 1964 and it was marvellous to see the day bring back some great memories for him.
Eb was born in 1939 and raised in Jackson, Mississippi when, in his words, “White folks were white and black folks knew it”! It was a poor family that struggled to make ends meet. Eb started caddying at the local country club at the age of 14 to help pay the rent and put food on the table.
He quickly became interested in the game of golf and the other caddies taught him how to swing a club. One of the older caddies lent him a seven iron with which he would practise for hours and hours in the evenings in the family’s “backyard”.
Eb was a bright lad and secured a place at “Howard University” in California. He had to hitchhike with a friend to make the journey as he could not afford the bus fare and on arrival he very quickly realised that he would never be able to keep up his “grades” when so much of his time had to be spent washing cars to earn enough money for his “keep”. Reluctantly he left university and found his only option was to sign up for the US Air Force. His first position saw him stationed in Alaska and after just a few months he had saved enough money to buy a half set of second hand golf clubs. He played regularly in the Air Force golf competitions.
In 1962 he was transferred to the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing and was stationed with that squadron, based at RAF Wethersfield. Romance brought him to Southend and golf to Belfairs, where he met the then Chairman of our Club, Norman Markovitch.
When Eb enquired about membership of the newly formed Club he was pleasantly surprised to be accepted with open arms. After years of “bad treatment and discrimination” the Jewish golfers of Southend had set up their own golf club and were not about to turn away a young black man who was serving his country.
It was a good decision as not only did Eb Stamps turn out to be a gentleman, he was also a very fine golfer. He quickly reduced his handicap to four and represented the Club in the Kindred Shield and became “one of the boys”.
He built close relationships with all of the members and the professional, Roger Foreman. He was very proud to tell me stories of his golfing achievements and of his friendships with “Founder Members” such as Ivor Molson (Vandermolen), the Markovitch family, Sam Witzenfield, Maurie Burns, Ernie Peace, Peter Hawkes, Peter Little, Mike Beasley, Andy Smiley, Bob Hicks, the Leggett Brothers and many more. His days at Southend Golf Club were obviously very enjoyable and his memory is quite incredible.
At the age of 75 Eb still plays a very tidy game of golf and was an absolute pleasure to play with. The Club wishes him a very enjoyable holiday in England and we look forward to seeing him return in the not too distant future.