The Handicap Competitions
THE CAPTAIN’S PRIZE
In the club’s earliest days golf was played from autumn to spring and the forerunner of today’s Captain’s prize began in the playing season 1886-87 when Talbot Fair, who was to become the second Captain, presented a cup to be played for over six competitions under handicaps not exceeding 30 strokes, the three best net aggregate scores to win. There was an optional sweepstake of 2/6d on the day. The run of six competitions was completed on the day of the first annual meeting, which took place on the 26th February 1887 over the old links and was followed by a hot pot supper for the 14 players. Somewhat ironically, the cup was won by the captain himself, with net scores of 96, 99 and 109. At the time of this first competition, the Club comprised 45 members and 2 honorary members. Talbot Fair later became the first Life Member of the Club in recognition of his services over many years.
Nowadays the Captain’s Prize is played for over 36 holes on successive Saturdays in April by those who qualified to play by virtue of their performance in certain competitions in the preceding year. The second round is combined with the Spring Meeting on the day of the Annual Dinner.
There is no handicap limit and the player’s handicap remains the same for both rounds, irrespective of the scores returned after the first round. The prize is presented at the Annual Dinner and it is a condition of entry that the winner of the Captain’s Prize attends the Annual Dinner to receive the prize from the Captain and to speak on behalf of all the prize winners.
Players qualify from the following nine competitions in the previous year:-
|Walmsley Peace Cup and first round of the Pearson Claret Jug
|Loyal North Lancs Regiment Cup and second round of the Pearson Claret Jug
|First Summer Meeting
|Second Summer Meeting
|St Andrew’s meeting
In each of the above competitions, the qualifiers are the first eight players with the lowest net score on the day who have not already qualified in one of the earlier qualifying rounds.
THE BOBBY JONES IRON
The first Open championship to be played at Royal Lytham in 1926 was won by the US amateur R. T. ‘Bobby’ Jones after a miraculous shot on the seventeenth hole in the last round on the 25th June.
Puling his tee shot left into sandy wastes 175 yards from the green, Jones used a mashie-iron to hit a perfect shot over the scrubland and bushes that completely concealed the green from his view. His playing partner and closest competitor Al Watrous was already on the green in two shots but was so unnerved by this audacious shot that he proceeded to three putt the seventeenth and to drop another shot at the last hole. Jones won the championship by two shots.
Immediately after the win, Jones handed the mashie-iron to Charles B. Macfarlane, golf writer for the London Evening News, who then in turn presented the club to Royal Lytham.
The mashie-iron now hangs in the Club Room, below the painting of Bobby Jones overlooking the scene of his triumph. During a visit to the Club in 1944 whilst stationed with US forces at Warton, Jones was asked to identify the exact spot from which he played his famous shot. As a result, a plaque was positioned at the back of the specific bunker to commemorate forever his wonderful shot which has also become a defining moment in the history of Royal Lytham. In 1931 Jones was made a life member of the Club. The Bobby Jones Iron has been played for annually since its inception in 1955.
The winner is the player producing the lowest aggregate of his best net scores from any four of the nine Captain’s Prize qualifying competitions (see above).
There is no handicap limit and the handicaps current on each day are used.
The prize is presented at the Annual Dinner.
THE TAIT MEMORIAL MEDAL
Freddie Tait was a remarkable golfer who created admiration and affection in all who came across him or watched him play.
As you walk up the walnut wood staircase from the entrance hall, you see on the left hand side near the foot of the stairs a photograph of Lt F G Tait of the Black Watch. At the top of the staircase is the magnificently carved Tait Memorial Board. Pause next time you ascend and take some time studying what is a superbly carved memorial.
Tait played but twice over the links at St Annes but the second time was not only a compelling match against the celebrated John Ball but more poignantly was Tait’s last great match before his untimely death.
The match here followed the epic final of the Amateur championship in 1899 at Prestwick. On that occasion his opponent was also Ball, a member of the Club and a previous Open and Amateur Champion. The 1899 championship was fiercely contested with some of the finest golf seen of its time, with an exciting climax on the 37th hole, Ball emerging triumphant.
When it became known that Tait was to visit this area in the October of that year, the members seized the opportunity to set up, in true sporting tradition, a return match between these two golfing giants. Seventy members accompanied the thirty-six hole match. At lunch Ball was two up having gone round in 78 to Tait’s 81. In the afternoon round Ball extended his advantage to four holes up after six holes before Tait’s match play tenacity and flair erupted. He holed his approach at the 550 yard par 5 7th hole for an eagle 3. However with five holes to play Ball remained three up and England seemed set to quell Scotland once more. Tait had other ideas and played the fourteenth, fifteenth (then a short hole) and sixteenth in 4, 3, 4 to tie the match. Standing all square on the 18th tee, Tait played a superb second shot from a tight lie in the fairway bunker and then holed out in four to win by one hole and so gain his revenge. As was his custom on such glorious occasions, Tait celebrated his victory playing his bagpipes whilst marching up and down the clubroom to the approval of the assembled members.
Alas for these two great sporting rivals, it was to be their final match. Soon after, Tait sailed off to the South African War and was killed on February 7th 1900 at Koodoosberg drift, whilst leading a company of the Black Watch Regiment against the Boers. He is buried on the west bank of the river Riet.
Soon after these events the members of the club donated the Tait Memorial medal.
The Tait Memorial Medal is played for at the St Andrews Meeting with a maximum handicap allowance of 10 strokes irrespective of the player’s handicap. The prize is presented at the St Andrew’s Dinner.
THE SILVER KETTLE
Presented in 1962 by H. Maurice Heaney, when he was Chairman of the Handicap Committee, the Silver Kettle is now the first main handicap medal competition of the year. Maurice presented the trophy to create ‘a more gentle introduction’ to the new golfing calendar. Previously, the Captain’s prize was the first competition of the year.
This event now immediately follows the Silver Kettle. Maurice was captain of the Club in 1978.
The Silver Kettle is a handicap medal played over 18 holes in late March.
The prize is presented at St Andrew’s Dinner
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS CUP (BOWL)
Regimental Motto : Omnia audax
The Lancashire Fusiliers Regiment was formed in 1688 in Devon under Sir Richard Peyton as Peyton's Regiment of Foot. The regiment's name changed according to the name of the colonel commanding until 1751, when it became the 20th Regiment of Foot and in 1782 the East Devonshire Regiment. In 1881 the regiment was designated The Lancashire Fusiliers. With a distinguished army history, the Fusiliers have been involved in all major British overseas conflicts.
Most famously the regiment was present at the main landings at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, where six Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers in the opening hours of the conflict. This is sometimes referred to as 'the six VCs before breakfast'.
Some years earlier, the officers of the regiment were stationed on the Fylde coast in St Annes for a month in 1889 and the club invited officers to become ‘temporary honorary members’, thus being able to play the course without charge. As a result of the Club’s generosity, the Commanding Officers of the 3rd and 4th Battalions, Col. Hale and Col. Brindle, presented the club in 1891 with a silver bowl mounted on an ebony stand.
The Lancashire Fusiliers’ Cup is a Foursomes Stableford competition with a handicap limit of 18 played on Good Friday.
THE WALMSLEY PEACE CUP
This trophy was presented in 1946 by W. Walmsley, captain of the club from 1942 to 1946. It is a handicap competition that was inaugurated to commemorate the end of the Second World War.
The Walmsley Peace Cup is an eighteen hole handicap medal, played for concurrently with the first round of the Pearson Claret Jug and is awarded to the player having the lowest net round on the day.
THE LOYAL NORTH LANCS REGIMENT CUP
When the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment undertook their month’s encampment at St Annes in 1889, officers of the Regiment were made Honorary temporary members. As an expression of their gratitude, a cup was presented by the Club.
This prize is played for concurrently with the second round of the Pearson Claret Jug and is awarded to the player having the lowest net round on the day.
Players are limited to a handicap of 15.
THE PEARSON CLARET JUG
The Claret Jug was first presented in 1899 by John E. Pearson, the Club Captain and Honorary Treasurer of that year. Generally known as ‘Daddy’, Pearson was also a member at Hoylake.
This competition is played for over 36 holes, normally on successive Saturdays, and won by the player with the lowest nett thirty-six hole score in the Walmsley Peace Cup and the Loyal North Lancs Regiment Cup.
Players are limited to a handicap of 18 for both rounds.
THE CENTENARY TROPHY
Our original course was laid out in 1886 on land to the inland side of the railway line across from the St Anne’s Hotel. Nearly all the land is now covered by housing but the area of the current tenth and closing part of the current eighteenth at St Annes Old Links serve as a visible reminder of our original course. The Clifton estate indicated in 1890 that tenure of the land was to be finite and on 20th July 1990 three members walked the barren land between St Thomas’s Rd and Woodlands Rd. Starting at Ansdell Station, ‘Uncle John’ Mugliston, T H Miller, J T Fair and J M Rea had the vision to see the potential for what is now our world famous course.
One hundred years later the Club celebrated its Centenary in 1986 and arising out of the celebrations emerged the Centenary Trophy. Fittingly the Trophy concerned is a driver made by George Lowe, our first Professional, who laid out the 1896 course when the Club moved from where we played in 1886 inland from St Annes railway station to the land where we now play.
The Centenary Trophy is an eighteen hole handicap medal round and is awarded to the player having the lowest net round on the day.
THE HERMON SILVER CIGAR BOX
The first Captain of the Club was Sidney A Hermon and in 1888 he presented a silver cigar box for a competitive prize. Like some other early members Hermon was also a member at Hoylake.
Although the silver item in the main display cabinet is undoubtedly a cigar box, it bears the intriguing inscription ‘The Hermon Cup’.
The Hermon Silver Cigar Box is played for over thirty-six holes and won by the player with the lowest nett in the First and Second Summer Meetings. Players are limited to a handicap of 10 for both rounds.
THE SENIORS TROPHY
There are three measured courses at Royal Lytham. The Blue course is used for events featuring the top players both amateur and professional and in 2008 measured 6882 yards with a Standard Scratch Score (SSS) of 75. It is used for the Open championship and the Amateur on a time-to-time basis and for the Lytham Trophy on an annual basis. The Red course in 2008 measured 6630 yards with an SSS of 74. It is used by members for all competitions other than the Championship course competition and in recent years the Silver Iron, both of which are played on the Blue course and the Seniors Trophy which is played over the Green course.
The Green course in 2008 measured 6360 yards with an SSS of 72. The outcome is that this takes a little of the sting out of the Red course with tees some twenty yards or so forwards on each hole, though it has its own edge by bringing into play some hazards that were beyond the reach of ordinary players on the Red course.
The Seniors Trophy is a handsome salver and was presented by Harold Bowman in 1950.
The Seniors Trophy is an 18 hole medal competition played over the Green course and limited to age 55 or over. An open-age handicap competition is run concurrently.
Prizes for both are presented at the St Andrew’s Dinner.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE COMPETITION
When the world’s greatest players come to Royal Lytham for events such as the Open Championship, the course over which they play is, at the time of writing in 2008, for fifteen of the eighteen holes, the same course over which the members play their competitions. This is in stark contrast to most other Open championship venues, at which many holes have an ‘Open tee’ a substantial way back from the club’s medal tees. The consequence of the equation here is that the members find themselves confronted with fifteen holes of torment and but three holes that offer a degree of respite.
For the Championship course competition the level of sadism is cranked up by playing all eighteen holes from the Open tees, in addition to which the chosen date is mid July, when the rough is particularly fierce.
It fell to Sam Irving to put the entire exercise into perspective on the first occasion when the Championship course Competition was played. Off a handicap of 3 he went round in 69 gross 66 nett. For the rest of the field the CSS of the day was 76 and noncounting for handicap increases.
Nice one, Sam!
The Championship Course Competition is an eighteen hole handicap medal played from the Blue tees and the prize is presented at the St Andrew’s Dinner.
THE VICTORY TROPHY
The Victory Trophy was presented in 1923 by members of the club who served in the Great War to commemorate those members who lost their lives in the 1914 - 1918 World War. The magnificent Victory Lion was commissioned from the sculptor Mary K. Watts Jones.
In the Dining Room bookcase, the names of those members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of King and Country are listed in a silver framed display.
The Victory Trophy is a handicap medal played for over 18 holes and the prize is presented at the St Andrew’s Dinner.
BOXING DAY MEETING
The first Boxing Day meeting took place in 1889 just three years after the Club was founded. It was held in what was to become traditional style with every competitor donating a prize and winning one also - a pattern which continues to this day. Nowadays members are encouraged to support the Professional by giving prizes from the shop: it was different in the earliest days.
In 1899 the prizes presented by competitors included a goose, a brace of pheasants, pipes in a case, boxes of cigars, a barrel of oysters and a turkey. It was presumed that those prizes that were edible, drinkable or could be ignited would be consumed on the premises. Players were not only made of stern stuff in those days but were also eager not to transgress the rules. In 1891 George Harper won the prize presented by Sidney Hermon, but owing to a misunderstanding about his right to remove snow from around the ball (for which the Secretary claimed full responsibility), Harper thought that he had not won fairly and so he returned the prize to be played for again.
Nowadays there is a shotgun start so all finish at the same time and once restored to sartorial splendour, all gather in the Club Room. The prizes, which are no longer of an edible nature, are on display and the player with the best Stableford score receives a prize from the Captain. In diminishing order of Stableford points, other players are called up to select an item. Finishing last might indicate that Christmas day was enjoyed a little too well, but at least Boxing Day is not an empty handed exercise even for that exhausted participant.
THE MIXED FOURSOMES COMPETITION
J G Carruthers Trophy
For many years this was a medal event but the increasingly more savage revetted bunkers had an influence on the outcome that was seen to be on occasion disproportionate. In 1972 the format was changed to Stableford.
The Mixed Foursomes Competition is an 18 holes Stableford Competition played in September.
Play is from the Red Boxes (Men) and Orange Pyramids (Ladies).
Men play from the first tee.
Handicap allowance is half the combined handicap.
Prizes for the Winners and Runners-up are presented at the Autumn Dinner on the day.