Royal Worlington & Newmarket Golf Club


New and possibly older members of the Club may not be aware of the relationship with Cambridge University which is enshrined in the rules:

Rule 1.2.3 ‘To maintain the historic link with the Cambridge University Golf Club’.

The fact that this statement occupies such a prominent place in the rules of the Club attests to its importance. To underline the connection between a golf club and a university golf club in this way is possibly unique in the world of golf; Cambridge University Golf Club (CUGC) is part of the fabric of our Club and the two are inextricably linked.

CUGC was founded in 1869 – it is one of the 6 oldest golf clubs in the England - and the connection between the two Clubs was established in 1901 when the former was invited to make Worlington it’s home club. The first official match between the two however was played in 1896. A picture of the dinner, which took place over the weekend of the 100th anniversary of the match in 1996, hangs in the dining room and the official record says there was no golf because of heavy snow. This is not strictly correct however as one intrepid foursome, which included Peter Dawson the former chief executive of the R&A,  attempted to play but the depth of snow was such that they ran out of golf balls before reaching the first green! We hope that weather conditions in November this year will allow the 125th match to be played.

To accommodate the Men’s first team - the ‘Blues’, the second team - the Stymies and the Ladies team, the CUGC is granted 35 temporary memberships at Worlington each year. Currently, each membership costs £135 and the students are responsible for paying their own fees. The ‘Blues’ play around 30 matches during the Michaelmas and Lent terms so it is a full-on commitment to play university golf. To emphasise the close connection between the Club and the CUGC, the ‘selection dinner’ involving the three teams and a high spot of the university calendar is always held at the Club towards the end of the Lent term.

The university season culminates in 4 days of golf taking in the Varsity Match, the Ladies’ match, the Stymies versus the Divots, their Oxford counterparts and the Dinner Match - the most important some would argue. This match, 18 holes foursomes and 18 holes singles, is played between the two reserves for the respective Blues teams, with the losing university paying for dinner.

 Varsity Match week is an experience which will never be forgotten by those participating and lifelong friendships will be formed, not only with team members but also with the opposition. The Varsity Match itself, invariably played on one of the famous links courses, is usually the third Friday/Saturday in March and this year is due to be played at Aldeburgh. For obvious reasons it is hoped to reschedule to early July and if members are able to watch it is a very agreeable way to spend a day with the support being much appreciated by the participants.

Worlington has around 90 people who have been granted ‘ex-CUGC’ membership, a condition of which is that it cannot be their primary club. Those who claim it as their main club pay the same subscription as other members. That there are a large number of Cambridge alumni members is a testament to the affection amongst people who have spent many happy times at Royal Worlington and the esteem in which the Club is held.

Royal Worlington and Newmarket is, arguably, the most famous 9 hole golf course in the world and one of the reasons is the contribution of its members to golf: Captains of the R&A, members of R&A committees, famous writers, famous golf course architects, Walker Cup and international players. The Club can boast many well known members, past and present, courtesy of the historic link with the CUGC and photographs of many of them are to be found hanging in the entrance lobby. It is a great privilege to belong to such a Club.

You can usually recognise members of the current CUGC by the colour of their golf bags so please say hello, they will appreciate it. Dai Rowley Jones, a golf ‘blue’, rather longer ago than he cares to remember, provides a liaison role between the CUGC and Club and will be happy to answer any questions about Cambridge University golf. There is also a mine of information about the CUGC in the ‘Sacred Nine’, written by John Gillum a Cambridge alumnus and past President of Worlington and ‘The Worst Golf Course Ever’ by Michael Morrison, also a Cambridge alumnus and Worlington member.

March 2021

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