History of the Devon Men's Union to Merger in 2018
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.
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.
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.
History of Devon County Ladies to Merger in 2018
The Devon County Club (DCC) was founded in 1900 when Queen Victoria still had a year left of her reign. The DCC was formed with 6 clubs and 24 members. Westward Ho! Ladies, Torquay, Churston and Seaton. Budleigh on the banks of the River Otter had 9 holes and Exmouth 6 holes. The subscription was 2/6d – about £17 today.
The first President was The Hon. B. Lois Yarde Buller of Churston. The County badge was a blue and purple shield with a golden castle and the colours were purple and blue worn as a tie. In that first year the county team played a home match at Westward Ho! against Surrey and away matches against Kent and Surrey travelling in a hired Great Western railway carriage. In 1903 Devon triumphed in the County Finals, then called the Ladies' Field Challenge Cup, defeating Kent and Worcestershire at Sunningdale. Unfortunately the home match v Kent was cancelled as Devon was unable to raise a team. It was a good start but in 1901 membership had dropped to 21 and no matches were played and Devon did not join the County Club Association. Juniors were admitted in 1902. But the ladies bounced back and in 1903 there were 53 members and 8 clubs. The County is divided into 4 divisions – north, east, south and west - which is the same as today. By 1998 there were 34 clubs and 2,000 members.
In 1929 the County Club name was changed to the Devon County Ladies' Golf Association (DCLGA). A County second team was formed in 1937 and the first junior team in 1952.
The Still Cup started in 1903 with an entry of 16 teams in 4 divisions. In 1947 a Foursomes competition was arranged in the memory of Doris Willes-Little. The Sheelah Creasy Bowl was awarded in 1954 for the best nett score for handicaps up to 24, this was changed in 1966 to an inter-club competition for Bronze Division players. The President's Trophy was introduced as the third inter-club competition in 1999. The first Championships took place in 1922 at East Devon and the 96th will be at Royal North Devon in 2018 when they celebrate 150 years for their ladies.
In 2018 the DCLGA membership stood at over 2,500 with the County teams and inter-club competitions still going strong. This was the year the historic merger between Devon Men and Devon Ladies took place, only the 4th in the country, to work as one organisation for all golfers in Devon.
Further information can be found in the DCLGA Centenary book which was given to all clubs and a copy is held in the Devon Golf office.