The History of the BB&O
by Robert Stewart, Past President
BB&O - the beginning...
With the formation of the English Golf Union in February 1924 following a meeting prompted by the then existing Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs that was attended by a number of golf associations and unions already in being, it became necessary for all counties to formulate into a county union in order primarily to appease the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in their wish to see a uniform system for the Standard Scratch Score(SSS) being applied to courses and thus a uniform system of handicapping.
At that time, February 1924, there was already in being a Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Golf Alliance and they had called a meeting for 17th March at Maidenhead Golf Club to discuss and consider forming a Union of Golf Clubs for the two counties. However, a number of the existing seven golf clubs in Oxfordshire expressed a wish to join with Berks and Bucks as they felt too few in number to form their own union. A proposition, duly seconded, that the three counties form the Berks. Bucks & Oxon Union of Golf Clubs was carried unanimously and thus the BB&O was born.
The first Executive Committee consisted of representatives from Beaconsfield, Burnham Beeches, Flackwell Heath, Stoke Poges, Frilford Heath, Maidenhead, Sonning, Henley and Tadmarton Heath clubs. Lord Burnham was asked to accept office as President of the Union and having accepted continued in office until 1934 when he was succeeded by Lord Nuffield who in turn held office until 1950. At the beginning a number of well known dignitaries were elected as Vice-Presidents.
The first BB&O amateur competitions were held over three days, 24/25/26th June in that same year 1924, and consisted on the first day of qualifying rounds for the BB&O Amateur and Handicap Championship, as well as competing for the Club championship in four man teams. The second day saw competition over 18 holes stroke play and 18 holes "bogey", with the semi-finals and final on the third day. Entry for the competition was 5/- prior to the first day and 7/6 on the first day............ Several designs for gold and silver medal awards were considered and Messrs. Fattorini of Birmingham were instructed to proceed at a cost of £2 for the golf medals and 10/- for the silver. In addition, Messrs Mappin & Webb were requested to send on approval by, or on, the first competition day, a selection of goods in excess of the number of prizes to be awarded. (It would be interesting to learn whether any of the original medals are still in existence. RS)
In September 1924 an approach was made by Essex suggesting home and away matches be played in October 1924, of eight a-side with foursomes and singles matches. The invitation was accepted and clubs were asked to submit names of players who would like to participate with handicaps not exceeding 2. At the beginning BB&O comprised eleven Berkshire clubs, twelve Buckinghamshire clubs and seven Oxfordshire clubs - a total of thirty clubs that increased gradually in numbers up until the early seventies when a total of 60 clubs were listed, including a number of Artisan clubs attached to their main clubs. This remained the situation until the late eighties when following a report commissioned by the R&A that suggested a further 700 golf courses were required in England by the year 2000, interest in developing and constructing new golf projects became widespread, especially as the Report came at a time when farmers and landowners were seeking diversification from farming activities.
As a result of this interest golf courses within BB&O increased in number to 122 at the present time. This then is a very brief outline history from the beginning in 1924 to the present day, some 76 years during which time many, many individuals have voluntarily given so much to the amateur game of golf within BB&O, all done in order to see the County Union prosper and become one of the strongest and successful of Unions. There is much more to relate from over the years, and this brief history will continued in due course.