History of the Liverpool & District Colts / Young Adults Competitions

The Colts Competition was originally the idea of James Pegram, then Captain of Royal Liverpool (RLGC), who called a meeting of representatives of Formby, RLGC, Wallasey and West Lancashire (J Pegram, G B Farrar, T Purgold, H L Lawson, F B Stableford, H de Bels Adam & J D W Renison), in November 1933 which led to the competition starting in the Spring of 1934.  Hand-written Minutes of these initial meetings are still in existence!

The rules they established stated that the competition for the Challenge Cup (presented by RLGC) would be between teams of 7 who were all to be under the age of 26 on 1st April that year. It was to be an “American Tournament”  i.e. each team to play each other once in singles match play during the season. The season then ran until the end of July and the winners of each of 4 leagues played off in semi-finals and a final all on the same day. Invitations were dispatched to 21 Clubs which all had to be located within a 21 mile radius of Liverpool Town Hall. That year, only 8 entries were received from – Formby, Fulwood Park, Leasowe, RLGC, Wallasey, West Derby, West Lancashire and Woolton but numbers subsequently rose to 12 in 1939 (including 2 RLGC teams) when the War intervened. That year the trophy had been won by Fulwood Park and it was not until the competition re-started in 1958 that the trophy, which had been hidden under the floorboards of the Fawcett family home in Liverpool for safety reasons during the war, was found again!

In 1958, Gordon Beazley (then RLGC Captain) chaired the meeting which decided to restart it and those present included John Behrend, David Marsh, Frank Fawcett, Stuart Cookson, Peter Dutton and Bill Renison amongst others. There were 14 entries that year in teams of 7 but with an age limit of 30. This age limit was then reduced over the years to up to 27 but, given the recent reducing numbers in many Clubs’ Colts categories, returned to 30 years old in 2016. Teams have also been reduced to 5 players to help Clubs with fewer Colts to participate. For a while, a difficulty had been some Clubs struggled to field teams of a sufficient standard but, in recent years, this has improved considerably with most Clubs now producing teams fully within Category 1 handicaps and some teams even with an aggregate handicap in plus figures!

To reflect current times, both competitions are now mixed gender.

Until 2018, there were up to 20 Clubs which took part in the matchplay competition (“the Summer Leagues”) and they played matches either at week-ends or in the evenings from May onwards through to end-August. Difficulties in leaving the office, travelling to and finding another Club, poor weather and failing light have always caused problems but the pleasure of qualifying for the semi-finals and experiencing Ryder Cup style excitement in team match play remains a very real attraction. Matches continued to be played on a “scratch” basis so there was no handicap allowance.

However, in recent years, substantial comment was received that a different format from “Summer League” participation would be preferred and, in 2019, a new and more simple knock-out tournament was introduced. This still leads to Finals Day in September of each year.

Bill Renison was involved in running the matchplay competition from 1934 until his death in 1992. To mark his long service and also to reflect the trend then towards medal play, the Bill Renison Trophies (“BR”) for Club teams of 3, whose scores all count towards gross and nett team prizes, were started in 1979.

Following Bill’s death, the chairmanship of the Colts Committee passed to Neil McBurney, twin brother of the current Chairman Rob, who had acted as Secretary for a number of years. Neil successfully ran the two competitions with the help of his Committee before handing the baton on to Andrew Renison, eldest son of Bill, who did similar until Rob McBurney took over as Chairman in 2002.

Most of the organisation has always rested with the Secretary and we’ve been fortunate throughout the years to have had a succession of mainly former Colts players in this capacity. Following Bill Renison, there were Ken Paul, Neil Moir, Neil McBurney, Andrew Renison, Tony Webster, Rob McBurney and on to the existing incumbent, Mark Shields. Mark has overseen several major changes in both competitions’ format and rules ensuring they have evolved in ways which reflect the current social and golfing climate.

The footprint for Clubs which enter competitions closely follows that of the 27 Club Society of Liverpool Golf Captains which now generously provides a degree of annual sponsorship. The current entry for the BR is usually 25 Clubs or so and that for the summer matchplay competition around 20. The latter attracts fewer numbers as Club teams are 5 (as distinct from 3 in the BR) which precludes entries from some Clubs for this reason.

In order to help with “speed of play”, the BR format was also changed from 2019 onwards. It still remains teams of 3 but now playing scratch Stableford with all scores to count.

Given its historic connection, RLGC has continued to provide a succession of Chairmen throughout both competitions’ history and, to this day, is closely associated with their administration. Over the years, the Committee has also included members from a number of other Clubs: these are currently from Caldy (Secretary), Wallasey and Formby with this number providing geographical spread over the region.

The venues for both the BR Trophies (typically played in late-May) and the Finals Day for the knockout matchplay (September) revolve geographically over the years through the participating Clubs. In May 2021 the Bill Renison was played at Wallasey and, in 2022, will be at Caldy.

Finals Day for the Matchplay was at Dean Wood in 2021 and is at Hesketh in September 2022.

Bill Renison - Captain of Royal Liverpool in 1959
Bill Renison Trophy