The Northern Counties Cup competition celebrated its centenary in the
year 2000. It is a credit to the golfers and golf administrators
in the North and North East that the competition is still going just as
strong today as it was 100 years ago.
celebration photographs may be viewed here.
Read on for a brief history.
On the 12th September 1899 Mr M M Duncan, Honorary
Secretary of Aberdeen Golf Club, wrote to all the golf clubs in the old
Counties from Kincardine in the South to the Shetland Isles in the
North, inviting them to take part in
a golf competition on the Balgownie Links in the summer of 1900. The Aberdeen Club went on to suggest that the participating
contribute a sum of at least two guineas towards the purchase of a cup,
and the clubs who contribute would then meet to decide on a course for
the following year.
Eight clubs donated to the purchase of a cup - Aberdeen,
Inverness, Moray, Nairn, Orkney, St Duthus and Victoria. All are still
in existence with the exceptions of the Victoria Club and St Duthus,
which is now Tain Golf Club.
The first competition was played in August, 1900 and the first winning
names inscribed on the new cup were that of four scholars entered from
Aberdeen University: T B Reith, K S Melvin, C I Beattie and E Leggie.
After the competition the Delegates met and chose Moray Golf Club
as the venue for the following year.
Mr Duncan of Aberdeen Golf Club remained the Secretary to the
Delegates for the next twenty one years, after which he was presented with a
silver cigar box bearing the inscription ' Presented by the Golf Clubs
in the Northern Counties, comprising Aberdeen, Banff, Caithness,
Inverness, Kincardine, Moray and Nairn, Orkney
and Shetland, Ross and Cromarty, and Sutherland to M M Duncan, Esq, in
token of their appreciation of his 22 years of secretaryship to the
Delegates on the Northern Counties Cup competition and for his
outstanding services to the game of golf in the North, 22nd July, 1921.'
In the second year of the competition the
host club Moray's number two team lifted the Cup and the competition then moved on to Nairn, where again there was a
home win. Then began a ten-year domination by Royal Dornoch, at the end of
which the member clubs presented Dornoch with a replica of the cup in
recognition of their ten-year success.
Two names were prominent in all but one of the ten victories, John
Sutherland and Walter Matheson. Another collector of gold medals was
Donald Grant who first played in 1906 as a boy of 16 for seven
consecutive wins and won his 8th medal after the war with the Dornoch
team of 1922 at Nairn.
Dornoch's Reign came to an end at Tain in 1913
when they were surprisingly beaten in
the first round by Deeside. The Deeside team was Dr Chalmers and Alex
Cooper Jnr, Alex Cooper Snr and H B Stedman.
Play was suspended during the years of the First World War and on the
resumption in 1919 at Balgownie the Moray Club won for a second time. In
1920 the competition moved North again to Royal Dornoch and the name of
one of England's most notable golfers of that era, Roger Wethered, went
onto the Cup. In the years that followed, English and British Amateur
championships were to be won by Wethered, who with his sister Joyce took
their holidays each year at Dornoch. The Royal Dornoch Club have become
the most successful in the competition winning on 21 occasions.
Aberdeen University won for a second time in 1933 with the help on
this occasion of one of the University's finest players, R S (Dick)
Walker. Walker went on to win the Northern Open championship in two
successive years and twice he was Scottish Universities champion.
Mr James Hay of Royal Aberdeen
became Secretary until 1946, and then Mr J Scott Maclachlan filled the
position until 1965. Since then, the Secretaries have been J J M
(Jimmy) Thomson (Aberdeen), Ken Murray (Dornoch), Jim Hamilton (Moray),
and the present incumbent Eddie Sherwood (McDonald).
Looking over the
winners' names on the cup for the past 100 years
there can be seen a host of familiar and revered names from throughout the
From Royal Dornoch we see J S Macrae (Cairnie), James MacKay (Tite), Donald Grant and
Duncan Murray (Barrel); from Royal Aberdeen, Joe
Little, Ian Creswell and Hugh Adams; from Peterhead, Alan Middleton and
the Livingston brothers, Bill and Hugh; from Murcar's winning teams from
the past, J K Hall, Jack Booth, Jimmy Thomson, Joe Little, Hugh Stuart,
Sandy Booth, Ronnie "Chanter" Grant and Harry Bannerman.
From Moray's bygone days, Hugo Ronald, Dr Jessop and George Thomson,
and since the fifties Elgin have become prominent winners with players
such as Wattie Wilken, Bill Reid, Ian Roger, and still competing Norman
Grant and Bryce Milne who have thirteen medals between them.
From Nairn, Kenny Cameron, Ken Walker, Ronald Gordon Snr, George
Wilson, and Sandy Tulloch; and from neighbouring Inverness, Ellis Fraser,
George Calder, Ian MacIver, Bill Souter, Taylor Bullock, Jocky Thomson,
Alistair Thomson and Fraser Urquhart.
With the number of participating clubs now up to forty each year, new
names have appeared on the Cup. Brora won for the first time in 1977,
Muir of Ord in 1986, Banchory in 1989, Nigg Bay in 1991 and Newmachar in
The appeal of playing in the Northern Counties Cup has always been
the event's friendly and social atmosphere. The players play not for
individual vouchers and prizes but for the honour of representing their
At one Delegate meeting it was proposed in the absence of John
Sutherland, the noted Royal Dornoch Secretary, that the winners be given
a fifteen shilling voucher to be exchanged in the Professional's shop.
It required only a few words from the pen of Sutherland to have this
stopped and so prevent an action which
he believed to be against all principles of the competition.
The winners collect a
treasured inscribed gold medal.