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Wales Amateur

Wales Amateur

On 11th January 1895, committee members from seven recently established golf clubs in Wales met in the Raven Hotel, Shrewsbury to consider a proposal from Richard Ruck, president of Aberdovey Golf Club, to form a national organization similar to the Irish Golfing Union which had been established a year previously.

Nine delegates from Aberdovey, Borth, Caernarvonshire, Glamorganshire, Merionethshire, Porthcawl and Rhyl golf clubs were all in attendance, and a number of the thirteen other regularly constituted clubs in Wales had indicated their support for the new venture.

It was decided to stage a Challenge Cup competition for teams of six members at Aberdovey during Whitsuntide week and during this national meeting, a Welsh Championship for scratch players would be played. When this individual championship was first held, John Hunter from Glamorganshire emerged victorious.

Hunter would also win the event the following year at Rhyl. In nineteen editions of the tournament up until the start of World War I, golfers from Glamorganshire captured eight of the titles that were contested. Interestingly, the 1913 tournament (the last before a six-year interruption) wasn’t staged in Wales at all as it took place across the border with England in Chester.

Another nineteen Amateur events were held between the wars and eight were won by Henry Howell of Glamorganshire Golf Club, who secured his titles between 1920 at Southerndown and 1932 at Ashburnham. He’s without doubt the best amateur golfer Wales has ever produced, though his exploits are now largely overshadowed by professional players who’ve since represented Wales on the world stage.

Howell was a gambler who never went anywhere without his crown and anchor board, and he burnt the candle at both ends. A dapper dresser, he would change his clothes at lunchtime if he was playing two rounds in one day. He also sported a small moustache like Ronald Colman, a film star of the era. Apart from his eight Amateur titles, he represented Wales in 29 Home International matches and was national captain on many occasions.

The Duncan family also played a huge part in the early development of amateur golf in Wales. John Duncan, managing director of a newspaper firm which published the South Wales News and The Echo, won the Men’s Amateur in 1905 at Conwy then in 1909 at Rhyl.

John’s sister Blanche had an even greater influence in the Women’s Amateur. After finishing runner-up in the inaugural competition in 1905, she won five of the next seven editions and her victory at Southerndown in 1909 meant she and her brother were Welsh amateur champions in the same year.

John’s wife Margery would claim the Women’s title three times between 1922 and 1928, while his son Tony – who was runner-up in The Amateur at Royal Liverpool in 1939 – would go on to win four of the five Welsh Amateur finals he took part in. He was also the first Welshman to captain the Walker Cup team in 1953.

Since Hew Squirrell garnered five Welsh Amateur titles in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there have been several players who’ve enjoyed multiple wins in the competition but nobody has yet reached the magic number of three.

Still, that particular mile stone won’t bother either Paul Mayo or Stephen Dodd who completed a famous double – Welsh Amateur and The Amateur – in 1987 and 1989, respectively. Stephen also won the Welsh Stroke Play Championship that year and played in the Walker Cup alongside another Welshman, Neil Roderick – the first time Wales had ever had two players in the same GB&I team.

Bradley Dredge, Welsh Amateur champion at Southerndown in 1993, has a couple of European Tour wins to his name after turning professional, and Jamie Donaldson (winner at Pyle & Kenfig in 1997) has done ever better since joining the paid ranks, winning eight events worldwide as a professional.

Royal Porthcawl has hosted the most number of Amateur tournaments (17), followed by Royal St David’s (15), Southerndown (13), Ashburnham (12) and Aberdovey (11). Conwy, Prestatyn and Tenby have both staged the event on nine occasions.

You’ll not find Chester (1913) or Swansea Bay (1910) listed below as they don’t feature in any of our listings.

View:
01
Aberdovey

Aberdovey

Aberdovey, Wales

02
Ashburnham

Ashburnham

Burry Port, Wales

03
Conwy

Conwy

Conwy, Wales

04
Glamorganshire

Glamorganshire

Penarth, Wales

05
Machynys Peninsula

Machynys Peninsula

Llanelli, Wales

06

Pennard

Swansea, Wales

07

Prestatyn

Prestatyn, Wales

08

Pyle and Kenfig

Bridgend, Wales

09

Radyr

Cardiff, Wales

10

Rhos-on-Sea

Llandudno, Wales

Wales Amateur Top 100 Leaderboard

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