“WE ARE ALL IN THE GEORGE HOUGHTON BOOKS.” Tony Jacklin
Since the first was published in 1952, George Houghton has added a further forty
five golf humour books, an annual Golf Addict Cartoon Calendar, and hundreds of top
level paintings that have been exhibited all over the world.
Players of note and golf celebrities have written forewards for the Houghton books.
Tony Jacklin said “George has written and drawn the lighter side of golf all over
the world. Our off guard moments and antics are crystallised. We are all in the G.H.
books”.Peter Alliss said, “I have seen and heard most golf humour yet George comes
up with new material time and time again”.
Houghton’s books are mostly personal. On his own admission (in fact he carries
the mantle proudly) he is completely golf addicted. He toured South America to produce
‘Golf Addict in Gaucholand’; for ‘Golf Addict goes East’ George and Kay went to eight
countries and travelled a couple of thousand miles. They have scoured Scotland, Ireland,
Wales and of course the U.S.A. and Japan, all to do Addict books. He has encircled
the globe twice.
As one would expect George is the President of the Golf Addicts Society of Great
Britain. In 1977 he was in Bombay helping to start the West of India Golf Addicts
Society. There are other branches and always the members wear the same – a G.H. addict
on a wine-coloured background.
George Houghton was friendly with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. They rented a house
at Sunningdale, and Hope’s line, “In the game of golf, cartoonist Houghton has discovered
laughs. I can’t, only tears” was in one of the Addict book forewards.
George’s ‘Cartoon Calendar for Golf Addicts’ was published continuously from 1952,
He made dozens of radio and television
Off to Bombay 1965
George & Kay Tokyo 1966
appearances; his television play ‘Watch the Birdie’ was cancelled following the deaths
of Ted Ray and golf pro Harry Westman, but ‘They Flew Through Sand’ was successfully
Houghton did a long stint as Associate Editor of the monthly magazine ‘Golf World’
but said finally that Fleet Street journalism was a story of his past – only painting
and cartooning were important in the end.
George and Kay ‘retired’ to their lovely studio/home perched on a hill overlooking
a small Dorset town, the sea and of course, the golf. A base for regular journeys
to the great golf centres – with Kay as driver, secretary and caddie – dashing off
to soak up more aspects of the game for cartooning ideas and golf landscapes.
Maybe, finally, George thought we had laughed at golf enough. Except for an hour
or two practice swinging on Saturday mornings, he simply painted. He died in 1993
at the age of 88. A long and fulfilled life full of memories.
Although in his prime he was never more than an average 9-handicap golfer, George
had his moments. Like winning a tournament on the West Hove course and receiving
a pair of silver candlesticks from the Mayor of Brighton. Or, best of all, George
recalled an Open tournament in Hertfordshire. It was a 36 hole affair and George
and his partner were last off. They finished in darkness in a flarepath from a dozen
motor cars – and they won!