THE iconic Leeds Cup, professional golf’s oldest trophy, returns to its spiritual home Cobble Hall after an eight-year absence on May 15-17.
And that’s great news for the club that nearly went into administration in 2012.
“We did a complete review of our operations and we have since increased membership by 30 per cent and 85 per cent in visitors,” said secretary Paul Mawman.
“It’s been a significant turn-round which we could not have done without the loyal support of the members.
“We’re delighted that the cup is coming home and we’ve been endorsed by the PGA. We are also the only club that can use the Leeds crest. Staging the competition here also helps our marketing initiatives.”
PGA North secretary Jonathan Paine revealed: “The club were very keen to stage the Leeds Cup again based on the huge success they enjoyed the last time they hosted it.
“It’s great news for Yorkshire golf. The 36-hole tournament will be preceded by a pro-am and if everything goes to plan we expect it will continue at Cobble Hall on a regular basis.”
There’s been plenty of drama over the years, notably in 2008 when Waterton Park’s Scott Barber won a play-off on the final hole, an uphill par three, at the 10th attempt! The last winner was Wath’s Chris Clarke the ensuing season.
The parkland course, situated on the north side of the city and founded in 1896, staged the tournament for the first time 1902 when the great Harry Vardon won.
Penrose Green, president and subsequent Lord Mayor of the City, presented him with the magnificent trophy, which is showcased at the PGA Belfry headquarters because of its value.
Apart from Vardon, many other famous names have been inscribed on the cup including former Open champions, Ryder Cup players and well known club professionals from both sides of the Pennines.
In the early years the competition was played alternately in Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Harry Vardon’s winning score over two rounds was 149 followed by Alex Herd and J.H. Taylor who were four off the pace. Prize money in the early days was derisive and yet the tournament attracted most of the big names of that era. It is recorded that in the 1911 tournament, the Leeds Club had generously given £18 to provide £2 each for the first 14 players who would qualify for a foursomes competition at Walton Heath.
The PGA had provided £20 in prize money for which £4 was voted as assistant’s prizes, divided into four prizes of £2, £1, 10s, and 10s. Penrose Green also donated a prize of 5 guineas to any player breaking the course record of 72.
It was won by Horace Fulford of Moortown, with an afternoon round of 71. The previous record of 72 was set by Leeds Golf Club professional, Mr Caird, on November 3, 1901.
LEEDS CUP FACTS
- Leeds Cup winners and also Open Champions between1902-1930: Harry Vardon, Sandy Herd, George Duncan.
- In 1911 there were 96 entries compared to 26 in the inaugural year, and the competition was played in heavy showers with a chilly wind compared to hail and snow showers in 1902.
- The 1929 winner, Abe Mitchell, was the private professional to Samuel Ryder who was a member at the Veralum (St. Albans) club and the figure on the Ryder Cup is modelled on him.
- Leeds Cup winners and Ryder Cup players George Duncan, Archie Compston and Abe Mitchell were part of the historic 1929 team who played at Moortown Golf Club. Bill Davies, Ted Jarman, Jack Busson, Jon Fallon, Eric Green, Syd Scott, Alec Caygill, Gordon J. Brand and Howard Clark were all Leeds Cup winners and played in the Ryder Cup in later years.
- The 1939 winner was Bill Davies of Wallasey who, at the outbreak of WW2, buried the Leeds Cup along with other silverware from his club in an ice box and sacks in the sand dunes along the Lancashire coast until the end of hostilities in 1945. He became a very popular Secretary of the PGA North Region until well into the 1950s.
- Bert Myers, Cobble Hall professional for 50 years from 1930-1980, the first two years as an assistant, played many times but never won the trophy. His lifetime eclectic score at the club is 32. He achieved holes-in-one at the following holes: 5,6,7,9,13,15,17 and 18. Among his many other achievements are Northern Open Champion 1952 and Yorkshire PGA President 1956.
The PGA in England & Wales (North), No 2 Cottage, Bolton Golf Club, Lostock Park, Chorley New Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL6 4AJ. Tel: 01204 496137 Fax: 01204 847959