Glamorganshire was once the centre of the Industrial Revolution, but all that inventing the modern world pales in comparison to what happened in 1898 at the local golf club when a member decided to invent the scoring system that carries his name today.
“I doubt whether any single man did more to increase the pleasure of the humble club golfer,” said Henry Longhurst.
Dr Frank Barney Gorton Stableford, or ’Gort’ to his mates, was an excellent golfer, playing off plus one, but he grew frustrated with the bogey system of scoring, whereby the player pitted himself against the bogey (what we now know as the par) for the hole.
In response, Stableford devised the scoring system which carries his name and, as now, the system awarded one point for one over par, two for a par and three for a birdie.
An event was held to try out the system, with Mr W Hastings Watson winning with 42 points and immediately being accused of being a bandit.
‘I doubt whether any single man did more to increase the pleasure of the humble club golfer’
Then a little skirmish known as the Boer War happened and Stableford was a called off to serve his country, as surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and he sort of forgot about the scoring system until thirty years later.
’I feel like something’s slipped my mind…’
After playing his part in South Africa, Stableford returned to the fairways, first at Royal Porthcawl where he won the Championship in 1907 and then at Wallasey, on the Wirral.
He said: “I was practising on the 2nd fairway at Wallasey one day in the latter part of 1931 when the thought ran through my mind that many players in competitions got very little fun since they tore up their cards after playing only a few holes and I wondered if anything could be done about it.”
The Stableford system was born and suddenly the word “blob” meant your afternoon wasn’t necessarily ruined.
Back at Glamorganshire, the club didn’t rest on its laurels and gained another claim to fame as the spiritual golfing ’home’ of the famous Barbarians rugby team. This means that some of the best rugby players ever will have enjoyed a booze-fuelled Sunday afternoon on the Glamorganshire fairways.
’You’d think some kind of Easter egg hunt or chase would be better suited for a team of rugby players…’
The Baa-Baas, in their famous black and white hoops, would visit Wales each Easter as part of a tour and spent every Easter Sunday between 1901 and 1996 at the Glamorganshire, playing a golf tournament and having a raucous sing-a-long with club members.
Sounds like an absolute hoot.