The first meeting to consider the formation of a golf league was held at Chester le Street Golf Club on Wednesday 2nd April 1947. The clubs present at that first meeting were:
BIRTLEY, CHESTER le STREET, DURHAM CITY, HOUGHTON le SPRING & SOUTH MOOR.
Mr R Maughan and Mr J Carter of Chester le Street Golf Club were elected as Chairman and Secretary respectively and the original title was the North Durham Golf League. It wasn’t until the AGM of 1961 that the league became known by its present name of “North Durham Union of Golf Clubs”.
The proposal to form the league was given by Mr Dalkin of Consett GC and seconded by Mr Soulsby of Birtley. It is not recorded whose idea it was to form a league and since Consett are not recorded as present perhaps it was Mr Dalkin’s.
At that first meeting it was agreed that each team would be represented by 7 players and the annual fee to be 5/-. Fixtures were to commence the first week in May and to be completed before the end of September. Results to be notified to the secretary “within 7 days of close of each league week”. Sunday league games were permitted.
A “Reunion Golf Outing” was planned to which all players who had played a league match would be invited. This event developed into what is now the League Field Day. The first event, won by Ravensworth, was played for over the Durham City course (now Mount Oswald) on 5th September 1948. A Mr Orr of Whitburn presented a cup for the event known as the “Orr Challenge Cup”.
In 1948 Mr G W Wilde of Ravensworth provided a Plaque to be presented to the league winners.
By 1949 the league consisted of 12 teams Boldon, Whitburn, Ravensworth, Chester le Street, Durham City, Castle Eden, Houghton le Spring, Durham University, Consett, South Moor, divided into North & South sections. Champions being decided by a playoff between the winners of the respective sections. It is known that the decider was between Consett & Wearside at Durham City on “8th August 1949, but the eventual winner is not recorded.
Over the next few years teams kept coming and going some by resigning others just dissappeared from the record. League strength varying from 14 teams to as low as 6 in one year. It seems that if the club was not represented at the AGM then they were simply not included in the fixtures. Interestingly Durham City resigned in 1951 and were not re-elected until 1965. In 1955 Chester le Street resigned because Thursday was the Stewards day off and Whickham left due to insufficient players.
From a low of 6 teams in 1958 the league began to strengthen and 1961 saw 14 clubs attend the AGM, they were:-
BEAMISH, BIRTLEY, BOLDON, CHESTER LE STREET, CONSETT, GARESFIELD, HEWORTH, HOUGHTON LE SPRING, RAVENSWORTH, RYTON, SOUTH MOOR, SOUTH SHIELDS, WEARSIDE, WHITBURN
Clearly the basis of the current league can now be seen.
Fixtures were organised between Captain’s on the night of the AGM and the secretary advised of the agreed dates. Clubs played each other once with half the matches at home the rest away, venues being reversed the following year. The year of the Queen’s Jubilee, 1977, all matches planned for Jubilee Day, July 7th , were rearranged.
The number of players per team has remained the same since the league was formed but the method of scoring has progressed. The initial system of 7 points per match – 1 point a win and ½ point for a half continued until 1964. After which the system used in the football league, 2 points for a team win and 1 point for a halved match was adopted. A system of playing for 14 points was introduced in 1970 but this only lasted for one season. It was reintroduced in 1979 with the 2 points for a teams win being used in case of ties, the method that is still used today.
The motion to change the league name came in 1962 when the new title NORTH DURHAM UNION OF GOLF CLUBS was unanimously agreed. Mr A Harrison, President of the DURHAM GOLF UNION congratulated the meeting saying he “thought the new name brought dignity to the league”. Mr Harrison also provided a new plaque for the field day and renamed the existing League Winners Cup.