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Jan 20th, 2023

“The Good Doctor Would Have Approved”

Glamorganshire Golf Club moves to ability based tees

At the turn of the last century, the Glamorganshire Golf Club never shied away from innovation. It gained an enviable reputation for shining a bright light for the development of golf in Wales. Being one of the earliest clubs to be founded in the Principality (1890), it was also the first to be established in the heartland of the industrial southeast.

Unsurprisingly, it was here that, over the following century, saw the greatest advances in the numbers playing golf in the country. In 1895, the club became a founding member of the Welsh Golfing Union. The same year one of its members, John Hunter, became the first Welsh Amateur Champion. Two years later, the club took the brave decision to extend its course to host the third meeting of the WGU Championships.
It was in 1898 that one of the most momentous and historic events took place at the Glamorganshire links. Something which impacted not only on the playing of golf in Wales but also worldwide. One of its new members, Dr Frank Stableford, was given permission by the club to trial his novel point-scoring system. The trial didn’t prove successful but with a few minor tweaks it would eventually revolutionise the playing of the game, particularly for the club golfer.

In 1901, the Glamorganshire held the first professional competition in Wales. It attracted many of the top professionals of that time including two members of The Great Triumvirate. It was fitting that the legendary, Harry Vardon, should take the spoils. Like Stableford, whose eponymous system will forever bear the name of the Good Doctor, so Vardon’s golfing grip will always be associated with his name. Vardon snatched the victory from another golfing great, James Braid. They would both return on two further occasions over the next seventeen years for exhibition matches.
The association with ladies’ golf was equally important. The club became a founding member of the Welsh Ladies Golfing Union in 1905 and staged the initial WLGU Championship the same year. The final was competed by two members of the club. Evelyn Young managed to secure a win over Blanche Duncan. Blanche went on to win the championship for the four following years and became the first of the most successful golfing family in Wales.

For the following forty years, the Glamorganshire became the most dominant and competitive club in Welsh golf winning innumerable single and team Welsh Championships. The Second World War proved a watershed and those all-conquering days have sadly faded.
But now, the club has decided to lay the groundwork to put itself back on the golfing map. Many major improvements have been carried out to the clubhouse and, in particular, the historic course. The club is confident that the substantial financial investment will reap great reward both for its members and guests.

As part of the overall plan, to enhance the experience of golfers, the club has taken the bold decision to be the first Welsh club to adopt the recommendation of the R&A and the USGA to move from a gender-based scorecard and course to a mixed ability-based one. It accepts the strong evidence that this will not only enhance the enjoyment of players but also improve the pace of play and time around the course. The days of identifying tees by gender are no longer. Instead of the former red, yellow and white tees have become a burgundy (back), gold (middle) and blue (forward) course. The club have also decided that all pars and stroke indexes will be the same for men and women whatever tee they play from.

So far, these innovations have received a warm reception from the members. However, the proof of the pudding will occur when they have been put into effect. Hopefully, the Glamorganshire will once again be the trailblazer for other Welsh clubs to adopt ability-based tees making the game a more enjoyable experience, just as the Good Doctor set out to do all those years ago.

TAGS: News, UK and Ireland, Glamorganshire Golf Club, 2023