Durham County Golf Union


A History of the Durham County Golf Union


In compiling a history of any organisation, the beginning must of necessity be the most important and a huge vote of thanks be accorded to those who brought it into being.

And so it was that in accordance with a circular issued by the General Purposes Committee of the Wearside Golf Club, a meeting was held on June 15th 1908 when a committee consisting Dr. A.E. Morrison, Dr. T.E. Hill, Messrs R. Purvis, W. Blain, F.P. Paynter, E.J. Henderson and A.C. Patterson was appointed to draw up Regulations.

At the first meeting of the Council held on July 29th 1908 at 33 West Sunniside, Sunderland, those regulations were submitted and with some alterations finally adopted.

The following eleven clubs were elected to the membership of the Union:
Seaton Carew, Dinsdale Spa, Darlington, Tyneside, Bishop Auckland, Durham City, Hartlepool, Birtley Black Fell, South Shields, Ravensworth and Wearside.

Lord Durham consented to be the first President of the Union and continued in that position until 1928. A.C. Patterson was appointed the first Secretary / Treasurer and the first Executive Committee consisted of Chairman A.B. Crosby, Dr. Hill & Messrs Blain, Paynter, Henderson & Purvis.

So was formed the Durham County Golf Union.

The Executive at that meeting decided to hold the first County Championship meeting on the Links of Seaton Carew on October 10th 1908 and to offer a Gold Medal to the winner not exceeding £3.15 shillings in value, and a Silver medal value £1.10 shilling to the runner up; the winner was Mr. A.C. Patterson (Wearside) and runner up Mr. C.K. Lindley (Seaton Carew).

The first Annual Meeting of the Council was held on 3rd March 1909. Two more clubs were elected in 1910 & 1911: Jarrow & Hebburn G.C. and Tunstall G.C., and in 1912 Chester- le  Street G.C. with three more in 1913, Whickham G.C., Teasdale G.C. and Sunderland G.C. 

A first County match was held in June 1909 against Northumberland at High Gosforth Park. County Matches were arranged against Yorkshire and the Northern Professionals in 1914. The County now is part of the Northern League for the Daily Telegraph Salver. No more Council Meetings were held until after the First World War.

On the 29th November 1919 two important decisions were made: Each course was to be allocated a Standard Scratch Score which was to be ascertained by  W. Coopers fractional value method and players desiring a handicap were to make a return of minimum 2 scores (if more returned, the best two were to be taken) and the difference between the average of these and the S.S.S. be the players handicap. A reduction scale was also introduced.

In 1921 a brave decision of the A.G.M. of the Council raised the Clubs subscription to 1 ½ Guineas (£1.60p) for 18 hole courses and 1 guinea (£1.10p) for 9 hole courses.

By 1922 Seaham Harbour, Boldon, Eaglescliffe, Beamish, Castle Eden and Crook had been admitted to the Union, with Harton Moor & Ryton G.C. being elected in 1923. South Moor, Garesfield and Burnopfield followed in 1924. 

1924 saw the birth of the English Golf Union and Durham C.G.U. applied for membership in the same year with Messrs Patterson and Nelson being our first representatives.

On the death of the Earl of Durham, President, in 1929, the Marquis of Londonderry was elected and served until 1948 as President.
In 1930 the County Championship took on its present form of 72 holes.

Immediately prior to the 39 45 War, the County Championship was won 3 times (30  32) by Alan Harrison and 4 times (33 36) by J.V. Todd and then twice by R.R. Dodd.

The County Individual Membership Scheme was inaugurated in 1936 but by 1939 failed due to lack of interest by most member clubs.
Meetings of the Council were suspended in 1940 due to the Second World War and were not resumed until 1946. (1947 Leagues of clubs Not viewed with favour by the County Union).

In 1949 a New constitution was proposed by C.G. Bunting and accepted in 1950.

J.V. Todd won again in 1948 and the Moffitt Brothers of Ryton in 1947, 52, 53.

The early 50s saw more and more clubs joining and, whilst some like Burnopfield, had gone out of existence, more were brought into being. 

Competition within the County Championship was growing too and in 1960 and 1961 Roy Clark of South Moor won it back to back  having already won the Boys Championship in 1953 and he was later to add the Seniors Championship in 1996,98,99.

Harry Ashby of Consett too had won the Boys Championship twice, in 1962 & 63 and also won the County Championship in 1963, 73 & 86. Harry went on to even greater heights, winning the English Amateur Championship in 1972 & 73 and represented his Country 18 times.

Just after the war Dr. J.V. Todd joined the County Executive, became Captain for 6 years, and President 1963 66, with the further honour of being elected President of the English Golf Union in 1969 and is now the Senior Past President of the E.G.U. 

David Whelan played for England and the G.B. & I teams in 1978 having won the Boys County Championship in 1976 and subsequently as a professional won the European Tour event The Barcelona Open, beating Nick Faldo in the play off. Alex Robertson who won the County Championship in 1985 & Richard Walker who won it in 1990 & 93 both went on to represent England.

A more recent notable Champion is Tony McLure, Whickham G.C. a 6 times winner of the Championship he represented the County 100 times spanning 4 decades.

The Clubs Championship is now won by a wide variety of clubs, unlike the 50s to 60s when Ravensworth won it 9 years out of 10! 
The present Executive too has its Champions, long serving Edward Bunting (Following in his fathers Gilberts, footsteps), Bill Loades, George Olaman and our long serving E.G.U. Representative W.P. (Bill) Murray who will become President of the English Golf Union in 2003. 

With all the Championships fiercely contested, our extensive Junior Coaching programme - gaining pace year-by-year, producing many quality young players, the most notable being Graeme Storm. Whilst not winning a County Championship, he was the first County player to win the British Amateur Championship and also to play in the successful Great Britain & Ireland side in the Walker Cup in 1999 gaining points.

To see all that he won in his amateur career just have a look at the Honours Board at Hartlepool Golf Club. We wish him well in his Professional Career.

A Senior Championship was introduced in 1980 and in more recent times, Boys under 14 & 16 Competitions have been introduced.

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