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DMVGA History 1970-1980


Following the Inaugural Meeting the first Executive Committee Meeting was held on 12th December at Tiverton G C. The Executive Committee comprised the four Officers (President, Captain, Secretary and Treasurer) and five delegates from different Clubs. This first Executive Committee meeting agreed that the make-up of the Standing Committee would be the Executive and a Representative from each affiliated Club, determined that the financial year would be from 1st January, nominated the four Officers to draw up a draft set of Rules for future ratification, that there would be a Spring and Autumn Meeting in 1971 and the President advised he would donate a trophy (The President’s Tray) and Gordon Emerton-Court stated that he would present a Captain’s Prize. He further proposed that a motif be designed for the Association (for a Tie etc.).
The final note to the minutes is worth recording – “It is to be hoped that any errors and/or omissions will be excused in view of the failing light from the one glimmering candle. Power cut!!”


With the switch to Decimalisation on February 15th our annual subscription became 50p.
The Spring Meeting was held at Okehampton (with the Bert Wills Scratch Trophy and the President’s Tray as the main prizes) and the Autumn Meeting at Tiverton (with the Michael Kelly Inaugural Trophy and the Haarer & Motts Trophy as the main prizes (with the latter being for the “Devon Veteran of the Year”) with 108 and 134 entries respectively playing medal competitions.
At the AGM, held at Tiverton and attended by representatives of 18 Clubs numbering approximately 60 members, the Rules were approved and published to all members. The tie had been designed and sourced and there was a special limited edition (60) for the founder members present at the Inaugural Meeting at Teignmouth in October 1970. Ties were sold at £1.05 and the initial order of 18 dozen was nearly cleared. The Association had a balance of £73.03 at the end of this first year.
Finally there was a complaint about slow play at the AGM which followed the Autumn Meeting at Tiverton!!


The annual subscription was reduced to 25p by a majority vote at Committee. Following a direct approach to the General Manager of The Western Morning News by Harry Keen (DMVGA Secretary) a further competition was arranged for 1972 for the “DMVGA Club Team Challenge Trophy” with the Trophy sponsored by the WMN. It was for a Medal Competition with each Club having one or two teams of four players with the best three scores to count. The first WMN Competition was played at Yelverton G C on Friday 23rd June and Mr Walker (General Manager WMN) and his wife attended to present the Trophy at the Dinner following play. The Spring and Autumn Meetings were held at Stover and Saunton respectively with nearly 200 playing at Stover! which severely tested the administrative skills of our Secretary (no computers/Emails etc. in those days!). At Saunton the turnout was 136.
At the AGM, held at Saunton, a motion to restrict membership to those aged 60 and over (not 55) failed by a narrow margin – this reflected early concerns within the DMVGA that membership was too big (347 members in 1972) and of course communication methods in those days were, to say the least, tortuous.
Mr G Harris of Saunton asked the Committee to consider a special prize for the Venerable Veterans aged over 65.


As a result of a visit to Cornwall by Gordon Emerton-Court and Harry Keen in 1972, the Cornwall Senior Golfers Association was formed from 1st January and so began the annual home and away fixture with the DMVGA. We played the away match at Launceston and the home match at Okehampton and Devon were successful in both games.
The roles of Secretary and Treasurer were combined from the 1st January with Harry Keen being elected to the post.
At the AGM, held at Teignmouth, it was agreed to send a donation of £20 to the Devon Juniors Golf Society “who deserve the active support of Senior Golfers”.
The first Annual Dinner had been arranged for November but was cancelled due to lack of support (only 50 applied).
Again there was discussion about limiting membership to 350 and increasing the age to 60 but no decision taken.
A tour of the Scottish courses, organised by the Secretary, took place in May involving St Andrews, Gleneagles and Turnberry and a repeat tour in May 1974 was under consideration.


Mr George Harris of Saunton had proposed that a new trophy for the “Venerable Veterans” (65 in those days since 55 was the joining age) be introduced and he presented the “Over 65 Trophy” which was, and still is, played for at the Spring Meeting.
A match against the Devon Lady Veterans was suggested and Gordon Emerton-Court agreed to look into the possibility.
It was agreed that membership be restricted to present numbers (circa 450) but Reps could replace any member leaving up to their current level.
A further donation of £20 was given to the Devon Juniors.
The Secretary and his party enjoyed another tour to Scotland to the same courses.
There is a lovely final paragraph to the Executive Committee Meeting held at the Plume of Feathers Hotel in December which reads: “The meeting closed in indecent haste at 1pm to allow the Committee to complete a game at the Okehampton Golf Club before nightfall.”


Subscriptions were increased to 50p.
The Scotland tour this year was to the Deeside Golf Week at Ballater since St Andrews, Gleneagles and Turnberry had become too expensive.
Mr Gordon Emerton-Court stated that to commemorate his period in office he would donate a trophy (a quart pewter mug from his family collection) which would be played for “a la Palairet”,as a better ball match knock-out competition of five pairs. He stipulated that if the competition, which started in 1976, should be discontinued he wanted the Pewter Mug returned to his family. The Secretary advised that some Clubs did not have 10 members (and new members were currently restricted) and it was agreed to allow Clubs to increase their DMVGA Membership up to 15 players.
It was agreed that the Captain would in future select the teams for our matches.
A further donation of £20 was given to the Devon Juniors.

At the AGM, held at RND, Harry Keen the Inaugural Secretary from Churston was elected as the DMVGA’s First Honorary Life Member and was subsequently presented with an engraved Salver.

Another lovely entry to the AGM Minutes reads:
“Apologies were received from a number of members and the coach party of about 30 members who played during the day were obliged to leave early for the return journey to Churston”.


The first year of competition for the Emerton-Court Trophy and in the first year matches were arranged on neutral courses and were played over 18 holes, i.e. one match. The Final was to be at Churston.
A Silver Salver had been purchased (jointly with Cornwall and with a contribution from Gordon Emerton-Court) as the “prize” for the annual matches with Cornwall.
Axe Cliff and Downes Crediton had applied for membership to the DMVGA and were included from the beginning of 1977 but with a limit on membership of 15 each. Much discussion about other inter-county matches had taken place in the last couple of years and it appeared that Whitbreads would be prepared to donate a suitable trophy. but apart from Cornwall, other neighbouring Counties had not been able to form Veteran Associations.
At the AGM at Tiverton there were discussions again about total membership numbers, which were now about 450, and also about slow play and it was noted that 210 had played in the competition ahead of the AGM at Tiverton!! Suggestions were that a starting interval of 7 minutes was required (it presumably must have been 6 at that time!!) and that play should be in threes and not fours. The Committee was asked to consider both issues at their next meeting.
A proposal in Committee that the Emerton-Court Trophy be played as a foursomes event was vetoed by Gordon Emerton-Court who had clearly specified it be better ball matchplay.
Gordon Emerton-Court retired from his position as President after a three year term.


The first of many changes over the years to the Emerton-Court Rules concerned the use of neutral courses as used in year one – 1976. It was determined that a draw be made after each round and the first named team had the choice of venue which could be their own course. The Final was to be played at Churston.
Much discussion in Committee ensued re speed of play and it was determined that Starters and Spotters be provided and members be told to pick up in Stableford events if they could no longer score (still a familiar cry in the 2000’s).
A limit on the number of competitors for any event were discussed at Committee since 210 had played at the Warren – it should be noted that events in those days commenced at 11.00 which gives some indication of the pace of play in those days.
A further donation of £20 was made to the County Juniors and also a similar donation to the Golf Foundation in response to their appeal in the Queen’s Jubilee year.
G Harris of Saunton won all three Trophies in the Spring Meeting played at Ilfracombe – the first such occasion that any player had won all the trophies at the same event (see notes below under 1978).
It was agreed to make a presentation to Gordon Emerton-Court for his services to the DMVGA and a small sub-committee would select a suitable memento.
The Association’s flag was unveiled at the AGM held at Bigbury.
In view of the workload on the Secretary/Treasurer the Committee decided to provide an Assistant Secretary and a member of the Committee was appointed rather than consider a new formal position within the DMVGA.


Harry Keen, our first Secretary was forced to retire at the end of the year due to ill health and was replaced by Maj. A Hawkins of Churston and the post of Assistant Secretary was formalised by a change of DMVGA Rules at the AGM. It was also decided to provide an Honorarium of £25 and £10 to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary respectively.
Additionally, it was decided to create the post of Vice-Captain who would thus be able to assist the Captain and also prepare himself for his year as Captain.
The East Devon Representative had written to the Secretary about a number of points including that related to G Harris’s performance in 1977 suggesting that no player should win more than one Trophy at any event. The Committee responded thus…”Since all our trophies had been presented to the Association for specific competition the best man on the day of the competition was entitled to the Trophy”. (As we all know this no longer applies these days).
Entries to competitions to be limited to 180 and there were now 475 members. It was agreed to open membership generally from the beginning of 1979 but to make the entry age over 60 (whilst retaining any existing members who were under 60).
The Summer Meeting was introduced but it is thought that the prizes were provided by the Captain since the Silver Jubilee Jug (the premier Trophy at the Summer Meeting) was not introduced until 1995.
The Committee discussed the possibility of affiliation to the DCGU but no advantage was perceived and relations were extremely cordial with our fixtures being included in their yearly program.
For the first time Churston reached the Emerton-Court Final and therefore the match against Tiverton was to be played at either Stover or Torquay but the prize presentation Dinner would be held at Churston after the match.


Annual subscription was raised to £1.
The Secretary issued a letter to all Representatives stating that “in order to reduce typing on Start Sheets etc” he would in future use numbers rather than Club names against each player. The Clubs were Axe Cliff, Bigbury, Churston, Crediton, East Devon, Elfordleigh, Exeter, Holsworthy, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, RND, Saunton, Sidmouth, Staddon, Stover, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Thurlestone, Tiverton, Torrington, Torquay, Warren, Wrangaton and Yelverton and they were numbered 1-25 respectively!!
A further attempt to change the format of the Emerton-Court competition from a four ball better ball event was refused by the President. A proposal to limit handicaps to 18 for this competition was also rejected.
The first match against the Devon Juniors took place in August with singles a.m. and foursomes p.m. with 12 per side. The Captain commented “a good team will be required to match the strength of the Juniors”. How right he was!! It was agreed that this become an annual match but played off handicaps.
It was determined that if the Emerton-Court Final is not held at Churston (since they are in it) the prizegiving Dinner should be held at the playing venue.
Further talks about affiliation to the DCGU but no side saw any advantage and the subject was therefore dropped.
Gordon Emerton-Court suggested that we should appoint a Press Officer (in modern times this function is carried out by our Vice-Captain) and also that consideration be given to a match against the County Professionals. The Professionals when approached were not interested.
At the AGM the President announced that Gordon Emerton-Court was leaving to take up residence in Kent and proposed he be made an Honorary Life Member – this was carried unanimously and he became the second Life Member of the DMVGA.


By this time our competitions were being played as Stableford events and “on the longer Courses the forward tees would be used”. It had also been decided to introduce “Domestic Handicaps” in view of the “reluctance of some Clubs to officially adjust the handicaps of those of our members playing to below their current handicaps in our competitions. The Captain and Vice-Captain should award Domestic Handicaps to those players involved at the conclusion of each of our meetings”.
There were continued discussions about the number of members and the number seeking to play in the competitions – a permanent feature of the first 10 years of the Association. There were 563 members and a block on new members was introduced although Clubs could maintain their minimum of 15 members so that they could field a team in the Emerton-Court competition.
A total of 742 members played in the four competitions which had all been subjected to “pruning” from the original total applying.
The new Secretary/Treasurer asked for the accounting year to be changed to end July so he could present actual results to the AGM and the Rules were changed accordingly at the AGM.
The entrance fee for the Emerton-Court Competition was raised to 50p per player to meet costs!!
It was agreed to increase the Honorarium to the Secretary/Treasurer up to £100 and for the Assistant Secretary up to £30 (from £25 and £10).

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