You might think the Open was the first of its type. But you would be wrong.
While it’s certainly golf’s inaugural major, the concept of an open competition – one that could be entered by players outside the host club’s membership – was actually created 13 years before those eight players gathered at Prestwick in 1860.
It was at Royal Blackheath where The Boys’ Medal was first inaugurated and this historic club, who even gave us the term ‘medal’ when striking one as a prize for a competition in 1792, have now come up with another pioneering first.
Hot on the heels of the Berkhamsted Trophy, who have opened their elite event up to men and women for the first time in April, the London-based club have introduced the UK’s first amateur handicap singles competition open to both male and female players.
The Open Royal Blackheath Trophy will take place on June 24 as part of a week of events to mark the completion of a six-year course redevelopment.
Inviting entries from all over the world, various sets of tees will be individually standard scratch rated for the Trophy, giving entrants of both sexes the opportunity to compete on an equal footing.
Royal Blackheath called in architect Ken Moodie to substantially redesign the course, which is set in grounds that were once part of Eltham Palace in south-east London.
Some 77 bunkers have been re-modelled or rebuilt and two new greens constructed with five putting surfaces extended and four new tees built.
Alastair McFarlane, Royal Blackheath captain, said: “Throughout its long history, Royal Blackheath Golf Club has been committed to bringing the game of golf to new audiences, both in the UK and abroad, and we see this initiative as emblematic of our ongoing commitment to inclusivity in the sport.
“We are genuinely excited to have pioneered this inaugural event in the UK and are confident that its popularity will see it develop into an enduring fixture within the Royal Blackheath and all handicap golfers’ calendar.”
For more information, and to register an interest, visit Royal Blackheath’s website. Entries close on June 15.
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