History of the Union

The Early Days

A meeting held at the Queen's Hall, Exeter on 26 October 1911, attended by representatives of sixteen clubs marked the first steps towards the formation of the Devon County Golf Union. Over the next few months three further clubs indicated their interest in joining and thus nineteen clubs comprised the founding members of the Union.

Those clubs were:

Bolberry, Churston, East Devon, Exeter, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Lee, Seaton, Sidmouth, South Devon, Stafford Moor, Stover, Tavistock, Thurlestone, Torquay, Torquay and South Devon, United Services (Plymouth), Warren and Yelverton. 

Six of those clubs are no longer in existence, namely: Bolberry, Exmouth, Lee, Seaton, Stafford Moor, Torquay and South Devon, whilst the United Services (Plymouth) Club was renamed in 1969 as the Staddon Heights Golf Club and the South Devon Golf Club became the Wrangaton Golf Club in 1921.

The first Chairman of the Union was L.C.H. (Lionel) Palairet of Warren Golf Club whose exploits on the cricket field are well documented. His name is, of course, immortalised in the County's premier annual inter-club team championship — the Palairet Trophy.

Comings and Goings

Oddly enough, whilst Devon boasts the oldest golf course in England at Westward Ho!, the home of the Royal North Devon Golf Club which was formed in 1864, that club did not become affiliated to the Union until 1914.

Over the hundred-year history of the Union there have been numerous clubs forming and disbanding for many and varied reasons, not least the interference and requirements of two world wars, but the affiliated membership has grown by 2011 to comprise forty-six clubs together with the three surviving Artisan Clubs.

Devon became one of the founder-counties of the South Western Counties Golf Association in 1923. The English Golf Union was formed in 1924 and Devon has, to date,  contributed four Presidents of that body, namely Lionel Palairet in 1931, John Goodban O.B.E. in 1977, Basil Steer in 1996 and John Scrivener in 1998.

National Champions

On the playing side, Devon had to wait until 1985 before it produced an English Men's Amateur Champion when Roger Winchester of the Sidmouth Golf Club triumphed at Little Aston Golf Club, and amazingly his success was duplicated the following year at the Hillside Golf Club by Stover's Jonathan Langmead. To date these remain the only Devon successes in this the country's major amateur individual event.

In the English County Championship finals Devon has recorded two successes — the first in 1985 at the Burnham and Berrow Golf Club under the Captaincy of Peter Brown, and in 2003 at Formby Golf Club under the leadership of Mark Evans.

The English Champion Club Tournament was founded in 1984 and, to date, the only success by a Devon club occurred in 2004 when Tavistock Golf Club triumphed at the Sandwell Park Golf Club.

Two other individual successes in English Golf Union events occurred in 1990 when Tavistock's David Turnbull triumphed at Radcliffe-on-Trent Golf Club in the McGregor Trophy, and in 1976 when Okehampton's Richard Brown was successful in the County Champions' Tournament held at the Shifnal Golf Club.

Junior Golf

It would be remiss not to record the contributions made towards the successes of the Devon County Golf Union over the last century by players graduating from the Devon County Junior Golf Society which was formed in 1954 and which has over the years supplied a steady stream of talented young players to the enormous benefit of county senior teams. Obviously, the coaching and competitive facilities provided by the Society are the source of much pleasure not only to those members referred to above, but to the hundreds of players who have enjoyed a lifetime's enjoyment as club members throughout the county.

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