Annual Interclub Fixtures
The Christchurch Golf Club has three interclub matches that anchor the annual programme of events: the contests against the Otago Golf Club,the Timaru Golf Club and Royal Wellington in New Zealand’s capital.
The oldest rivalry is between Otago and Christchurch. The first of these games was played in 1893 when the Otago Club sent a team to Christchurch in July of 1893. The Christchurch Golf Club was situated in Hagley Park at that time and the fixture was played during the winter months because the grass had stopped growing and golf was more enjoyable.
The first days play was devoted to singles and the match was concluded with foresomes play on the following day. The Christchurch Club prevailed to win the two day match by 6 holes. And so began a rivalry which has been played annually and contested with great enthusiasm and friendship. This was the beginning of the oldest continuously played match between any two Clubs outside the United Kingdom.
There are three shields up for grabs. In 1898 Mr. N.G.W.Hanmer the secretary of the Club presented the Challenge Trophy for the foresomes and in 1900 the Campbell-Hosking Challenge Shield was presented for the singles matches. Some years later the Friendly Shield, a handicap match for the not so efficient golfers extended the game.
In 1906 the Timaru Golf Club wrote to the Christchurch Club regarding the conditions of play for the Orbell Challenge Cup. It was intended that the Cup should be for a competition between teams consisting of 6 women and 6 men chosen from the Clubs.
This has developed into an annual match between the Christchurch and Timaru Clubs, and is still after more than a century an eagerly awaited contest. There is no history of mixed matches in the United Kingdom and there is every probability that this is the oldest continuously played mixed match anywhere in the world.
In 1911 Colonel Tuson presented a cup to the Wellington Golf Club and so began the third series of inter-club matches. The first of these contests was played in 1908 and the intention was to pit the top players of each club against the other. It is interesting to note that in the first years the matches were for foresomes play on a bi- annual basis. This was later extended to include singles and an annual event that was played on a home and away basis. The foresomes have now given way to a four-ball contest. The Veterans Cup was included after 1945 initially for those players over 50 years old who still believed they could compete at a high level. The Veterans now are open to any age group. The two year centennial celebrations have seen the usual 8 man Tuson team but, has seen the Vetrans team swell to 22 players. There will be 12 - 16 players in future matches.
These three inter-club events prove to be one of the highlights for all those who contest the matches. The friendships that develop and the rivalries that build up from year to year become legendary and the tales that are told and retold continue to amuse.
New inter-club contests are emerging and will be the next series of matches where places are highly sought after. The list of reciprocal clubs we now have increases the traffic between clubs and between countries. One of our latest sister clubs is The Heritage in Melbourne, interest is high and the golf superb. There is another exciting contest that has developed between Christchurch and Royal Queensland in Brisbane, Australia for the Queensbury Trophy. In 2008 a group of gentlemen from the Clairmont Country Club in San Francisco, California came to play and we have been invited to play their Mackenzie designed course in 2010.
The Christchurch Golf Club is the fifth oldest outside the United Kingdom and Ireland (Royal Calcutta 1829, Royal Bombay 1842, Manchester Club-Jamaica 1865, Otago 1871, Christchurch and Royal Montreal 1873, Brookline Massachusetts-USA 1882, Royal Cape Town 1885). Golf is a major sport and it is made more lively, more competitive and more challenging with the introduction of an inter-club programme back in the early years of the sport in New Zealand. The opportunity to play for your club still remains the pinnacle for most club golfers.