Our grateful thanks go to our previous Secretary Bob Keating who painstakingly researched these history pages.
Gordon Frederick Emerton-Court, Founder of the DMVGA
Born at Pevensey, Sussex on 19th May 1906 .Died at Ashford, Kent on 1st January 2003 aged 96.
Gordon was a man of many parts being an actor, writer, painter and poet, obviously a keen golfer, and in later years he also became an accomplished wood worker (he stated that he was “an artist in wood rather than a carpenter”).
As an actor he made his London theatre debut in the 1930’s in a play called “After the Dance” written by Terrence Rattigan and during this period met and became friends with Noel Coward. He also appeared in 36 films working alongside stars such as Gracie Fields, Will Hay and the Crazy Gang.
Until well into his 50’s he was a very keen hockey player and when he no longer felt competitive at that sport he took up golf at the age of 55 and within 18 months was playing to a handicap of 8 which he maintained well beyond his 70th year. At the age of 80 he was playing off of 10! He was a member of both Churston and Okehampton Golf Clubs and for a while was the licensee of the Copper Key Inn at North Tawton and it was there that he began working with wood making furniture in the finest rural craft tradition. His legacy to the DMVGA in this respect is the base of the Emerton-Court Trophy
The Emerton-Court Trophy is today a prized event – both in Devon and in Kent. Presented in 1975 by our founder Gordon Emerton-Court, and played for from 1976 onwards, for an inter-Club four ball better ball matchplay competition, of five pairs per side, between DMVGA member Clubs. Initially, matches were one-off games on the “home team’s” course or on a neutral course as agreed between the two Clubs. Nowadays, each round up to the final is played on a home and away basis with the overall score after both games determining the winner. The final is always played on a neutral course over 18 holes and currently Churston remains the traditional venue (Churston as it was Gordon Emerton-Court’s home Club). . The winning Club receive the Trophy (an old fashioned pewter measuring mug from the Emerton-Court family on a wooden stand made by Gordon Emerton-Court himself) which they keep for one year and the individual players each receive a medal.
His reason for forming the DMVGA was that having reached the age of 60 he found that there was little opportunity for Veterans to play in Club matches, in particular he was “miffed” at not being selected for the Palairet Trophy team at Churston, despite the fact that he still had a single figure handicap (perhaps what we term “ageism” in the 2000’s!). Faced with this predicament he decided to form the DMVGA to give Veteran Golfers the opportunity to play in inter-club and inter-county matches and to enable the newer Clubs to obtain fixtures for Veterans against established Clubs whose normal Club fixture lists were often full.
He was a member of both Churston and Okehampton Golf Clubs at the time he founded the DMVGA and both Clubs played a significant role, as did Tiverton Golf Club, in the early years of the Association with Gordon as the first Captain, the first Secretary also being from Churston, the first President and Treasurer were from Tiverton and Okehampton members being prominent in the first Executive Committee membership.
He moved to Kent in his later years in I think 1980 and joined the Littlestone Golf Club and in due course found that Kent Veterans faced a similar problem to that he had experienced in Devon many years earlier in terms of getting fixtures/matches. His solution was of course to found the Association of Kent Veteran Golfers which was formed in October 1995 when Gordon was 89!! Naturally, given his expressed desire when forming the DMVGA for matches with other counties he proposed that we should play Kent on an annual basis. In a typically generous gesture he presented a silver salver “The President’s Plate” for annual competition between the Veterans of Devon and Kent and the first match took place at Churston on May 20th 1999 with Gordon playing in the Kent team at the age of 93!! Shame on Messrs Perry and Hollingworth of Exeter and Dartmouth respectively who defeated Gordon and the Kent Secretary Glyn Thomas in that first match!!