MIKE WAGONER

MIKE WAGONER

Carteret County already lays claim to being the “Water Sports Capital of North Carolina,” and it’s easy to see why with so much to do “on, in, under, over and beside” the ocean, sounds and inland waterways.

Shall we expand our sights to inland sites? The ideal sport to link to might be badminton. In a sense, badminton is our genes. Here’s how:

Beaufort took its name from the English Duke of Beaufort. He and his family lived in Badminton House, the name given to the duke’s sprawling country manor (20 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms), located in the village of Badminton, Gloucestershire, England.

The dukedom was created in 1682 by King Charles II to honor a loyal supporter – Henry Somerset. He was a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1654-67.

Somerset’s grandson, also named Henry Somerset, became the 2nd Duke of Beaufort in 1700.

The younger Henry is the chap who Beaufort is named after. He inherited one of the eight original shares of the Carolina Province in 1707 to join the elite group of Lords Proprietors. He assumed the leadership role in 1711.

The founding fathers of the settlement known as “Fish Town” opted in 1709 to switch its name to “Beaufort.”

The game of badminton came much later. It was Henry Charles FitzRoy Somerset, the 8th Duke of Beaufort, who “introduced” the game to England’s wealthy class on the lawn of Badminton House in 1873.

Rules required that players first guzzle a few goblets of fizzy sparkling wine (the British equivalent of French champagne) before stepping onto the court to woozily attempt to bat about the shuttlecock with their rackets.

Nick Higham of the British Broadcasting Corporation let it be known that said British winemakers were adding “sparkle to their tipple” 35 years before the French monk Dom Pierre Perignon invented champagne in 1697.

Englishman Dr. Christopher Merrett, a physician from Winchcombe in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire, created a sparkling wine in 1662 by deliberately adding sugar.

The badminton tradition continued to grow at Badminton House. If foul weather prevented playing badminton outdoors, the duke in residence would merely invite the players into the manor.

The grand entrance hall is said to contain the dimensions of a modern badminton court – 44 feet long and 17 feet wide. (The court width for doubles play is 20 feet.) A string tied between pillars served as “the net.”

Surely, this type of activity – one that combines imbibing with sporting – has its ties to “pirate invading.”

It seems to be a “natural fit” for Beaufort, whose modern-day permanent residents, second home owners and visitors seem to have an affection for sniffing and sipping wines of all varieties at virtually all occasions.

This badminton business could be a great adventure for an entrepreneurial enterprise. An old, vacant school building might be a dandy structure to hold a passel of indoor badminton courts.

One improvement to “Badminton ala Beaufort,” however, would be an insistence that players use made-in-the-U.S.A. nylon birdies, not the standard version made in places like China, India and Bangladesh, which use real feathers that have been plucked from live waterfowl such as ducks and geese.

To demonstrate its waterfowl friendliness and political correctness, the Badminton World Federation (BWF), based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, began using synthetic shuttlecocks at all its sanctioned tournaments earlier this year.

Bring it on...to Beaufort – “Badminton By The Sea.”

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