jarthur.jpgJames Herbert Arthur, Britain’s leading golf course agronomist, died on May 14. Cause of death was not released. He was 84.
Born at Camberwell in south London, Arthur studied agriculture at Reading University. He dropped out of school to serve in the British Army during World War II, and reached the rank of captain. A first-class marksman, Arthur shot down a German plane with a machine gun. When a fall injured his ankle and kept him from getting transferred to Burma, he focused on training other soldiers. The injury continued to bother him for the rest of his life.
After the war ended, Arthur returned to school to complete his education. He worked as the chief area manager covering the north of England for Biddy’s, an agricultural seed company, then set up his own landscaping business.
In his spare time, Arthur advised nearly 550 golf courses in Britain and abroad, including the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews and the prime minister’s Buckinghamshire retreat, Chequers. He supervised the preparation of golf courses for Open and amateur championships, as well. Arthur was a traditionalist who spoke out against over-watering and the constant use of fertilizers and pesticides. He believed that links courses were the most challenging for players and disdained making the greens look pretty for TV.
In 1997, Arthur published “Practical Green Keeping,” a guide that many in the field consider the standard for greenkeepers in Britain. He also contributed articles to Golfing World and Greenkeeping International.