“Golf is the most rewarding thing in life”, said George Houghton in his late eighties.
Even at that advanced age he continued to believe that painting golf pictures, writing
golfing books and cartooning were the most satisfying things on offer.
Born in Perth, Scotland, in 1905 he started the game at an early age. At ten he
was taken to the Craigie course where the great Joe Anderson reigned supreme. Champion
of Scottish golf, Curling, Billiards, Shooting, opening bat for Perthshire, and goodness
knows what else, Joe gave wee Georgie his introduction to the game of golf, and this,
in one form or another, became his life.
Joe’s daughter, Jessica, was Lady Champion of Britain, France, Australia, and
wherever the game was played. Years later George and Jessica did a golf introduction
book together. Just as he did with Max Faulkner and others.
By then Houghton was not only a mature dyed-in-the-wool golf addict, he had also
plastered Fleet Street with cartoons and sporting comment.
At the tender age of twenty-one the Addict set off to do a series of illustrated
articles ‘Round the World on a £5 note’. That was for the Daily News but the series
floundered leaving George happily marooned in the south of France writing an English
language newspaper. But still he had itchy feet and travelled Europe extensively,
even crossing Spain on a donkey. “Adventures of a Gadabout” was published with drawings
of people he met en-route like Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, the French president,
Somerset Maugham and others.
These were George Houghton’s scallywag days. He did a course in the Sorbonne, painted
at Ecole des Beaux Arts, exhibited in the Paris Salon and secured a job in the Paris
office of the Daily Mail. This lasted until the start of the Hitler menace. Houghton
missed his golf, but he wrote about Walter Hagen’s French visit, and played games
with British jockeys on the courses at Chantilly and Auteuil.
George Houghton’s younger life was always a hotchpotch but it bred a sense of
humour that found an outlet in golf cartoons and fun writing.
“THE FUNNIEST CARTOONS IN GOLF.” Bob Hope
War came and he joined the Royal Air Force. Being bi-lingual the intention was
a posting to the French Resistance as an Intelligence Officer, but France fell and
George went to the Middle-East as a press officer. His Western Desert diaries and
sketchbooks were published in Cairo, 1942. “They Flew through Sand” sold phenomenally
well. George said because a million service personnel had nothing else to read! Nearly
fifty years later (in 1991) the book was re-issued in London by Sean Arnold. By which
time George was known as the doyen of golf addicts.
When his C.O. Tedder left Africa to be Eisenhower’s Deputy for the Battle for Europe.
Houghton joined the Allied Expeditionary Air Force and was promoted to Group Captain.
He was decorated with an O.B.E. His personal assistant, Kay, became his wife, that
meant his caddie-cum-the other attachments of a golf addict, plus producer of books
Sean Arnold is sole copyright owner of all George Houghton’s lifetime work. Copyright laws apply.
George (left) during a celebrity pro-am match. 1969.