The University Golf Match


The Blues team that contests the Varsity Match against Oxford University each year is selected in mid-February, with the match itself played approximately one month later. Ten players are selected for the Blues squad, each of whom earns a Full Blue, together with two alternates known as “Dinner Blues”. The Dinner Blues play the “Dinner Match” against their counterparts from Oxford on the day prior to the Varsity Match itself, with the losing side responsible for picking up the (not inconsequential!) tab for the dinner following the Varsity Match.

The Varsity Match itself is played over two days, usually a Friday and a Saturday, with five 36-hole foursomes matches played on the Friday and ten 36-hole singles matches played on the Saturday. Cambridge leads the 126 match series by a score of 64 to 55, with 7 matches halved.

The venue of the match changes each year, but we return regularly to Royal St. George’s G.C. and Rye G.C., which is the “home” of the Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society. Other recent venues have included Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), Aldeburgh, Muirfield and Ganton. The 2016 Varsity Match will be played at Royal West Norfolk Golf Club.

 

 

History

The first University Golf Match was played on March 6, 1878, at Wimbledon Common, as guests of the London Scottish Golf Club. The match was contested by four singles matches, using the now-forgotten ‘Holes Up’ method of scoring.

 

 

varsity_match_1893

 

There have been numerous minor changes to the format over the long history, mostly affecting the number of players on each side or the length of the games (18 or 36 holes). But throughout its early history the Match was decided in one day by a number of singles, and the first significant change came in 1908 when the ‘Holes Up’ method of scoring (matches are played right up to the 36th, even if one player is already leading by more than the remaining number of holes) was replaced by the ‘Matches Won’ method, with one point for a win. The change was prompted by a result that saw Cambridge win the Match by 23 holes to 22, although Oxford had in fact won four games to Cambridge’s three, with one half. Although such an ‘unfair’ result had in fact occured twice before (in 1883 and 1890), enough was deemed enough and the format changed.

The second big change came in 1921, with a move to teams of ten and a total of fifteen games spread over two days, five foursomes and ten singles, with every match being played to a conclusion by sudden-death, should it be tied after 36 holes. This method ensured that there could be no more ties. However, one singles game in 1927 at Hoylake, played in appalling weather, went to the 41st hole, prompting a decision to limit matches to 36 holes. Except for a brief three year experiment with 18 hole games in the mid-1960s, the ten-a-side, two day, five foursomes and ten singles, all over 36 holes, has remained the format from 1928 to the present.

 

Widest margin of victory (team):

‘Holes Up’ era – Oxford won in 1900 by 69-0, and they had two other ‘whitewash’ victories in 1878 (24-0) and 1889 (18-0). Cambridge’s best win was 52-3 in 1905, and they managed no whitewashes.
‘Matches won’ era – Cambridge won 13-2 in 1977, and Oxford won by the same score in 1994. The Oxford 13 points in 1994 are effectively the ‘win’ record, as all the individual matches were wins, whereas Cambridge won twelve matches in 1977, the other point coming from two halves.

Widest margin of victory (individual):
Big winning margins are inevitable with 36 hole matches. In the ‘Holes Up’ era, there was a 15 hole Cambridge win in 1905, and in the ‘Match’ era there was 15&14 Oxford win in 1992.

Longest match:
In 1927, Cambridge’s G.H. Grimwade beat R.H. Oppenheimer at the 41st at Hoylake, prompting the change which limited all matches to 36 holes.

Shortest match:
In 1992 at Deal, Oxford’s R.A. Sanders beat A.R. Powell 15&14, ie 22 holes.

Most frequently played venues:
Since 1896, the choice of venue has alternated between the two Clubs.
A total of 22 courses have played host to the match, with Wimbledon Common used as the venue for the first 15 Matches from 1878-93, and once again in 1896, but not since. The most played venues are:
Royal St George’s – 22 times
Rye – 20 times
Wimbledon Common – 16 times
Royal Liverpool – 14
Formby – 7
Prince’s – 5
Royal Lytham & St Annes – 5
Royal Porthcawl – 5
Ganton – 4
Hunstanton – 5
Sunningdale – 4
Burnham & Berrow – 3
Royal Cinque Ports – 3
Muirfield – 2
Nine other courses have hosted the Match once: Aldeburgh, Royal Birkdale, Royal St David’s, Royal West Norfolk, Saunton, Walton Heath, Westward Ho!, Woodhall Spa, Woking.

The ‘Dinner Match’:
On the day before the main two-day Match begins, the two reserves for each team traditionally play one 18 hole foursomes and two 18 hole singles games, with the losing side footing the bill for the sizeable dinner at the conclusion of the Match.

 

The University Golf Match

Results 1878 – 2015

Overall Cambridge leads the 126 match series by a score of 64 to 55, with 7 matches halved.

2015 Royal Liverpool Oxford 9-6

2014 Rye Oxford 8½-6½

2013 Royal St George’s Oxford 8 -7

2012 Hunstanton Oxford 8-7

2011 Royal Cinque Ports Oxford 8-7

2010 Royal Porthcawl Oxford 9-6

2009 Rye Cambridge 9-6

2008 Hoylake Oxford 8-7

2007 Aldeburgh Cambridge 8½-6½

2006 Muirfield Tie 7½-7½

2005 Ganton Oxford 8-7

2004 Ganton Tie 7½-7½

2003 Walton Heath Oxford 10-5

2002 Royal St George’s Cambridge 9½-5½

2001 Formby Oxford 8-7

2000 Royal Porthcawl Cambridge 8-7

1999 Royal Cinque Ports Oxford 9½-5½

1998 Rye Cambridge 9-6

1997 Royal St George’s Oxford 11-4

1996 Royal West Norfolk Oxford 8½-6½

1995 Royal Lytham & St Annes Oxford 8-7

1994 Rye Oxford 13-2

1993 Royal Liverpool Oxford 8½-6½

1992 Royal Cinque Ports Oxford 9½-5½

1991 Royal St George’s Cambridge 10-5

1990 Muirfield Cambridge 11-4

1989 The 100th Match: Rye Cambridge 11½-3½

1988 Royal Porthcawl Cambridge 9½-5½

1987 Formby Cambridge 10½-4½

1986 Ganton Oxford 11-4

1985 Rye Oxford 11½-3½

1984 Sunningdale Cambridge 11½-3½

1983 Royal St George’s Cambridge 9½-5½

1982 Hunstanton Cambridge 8-7

1981 Formby Cambridge 10½-4½

1980 Royal Liverpool Oxford 8½-6½

1979 Harlech Oxford 8½-6½

1978 The Centenary Year Match Rye Oxford 9-6

1977 Royal Porthcawl Cambridge 13-2

1976 Woodhall Spa Cambridge 10-5

1975 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 9½-5½

1974 Ganton Cambridge 9-6

1973 Saunton Oxford 8-7

1972 Formby Cambridge 8-7

1971 Rye Oxford 11-4

1970 Royal St George’s Tie 7½-7½

1969 Formby Cambridge 11-4

1968 Royal Porthcawl Cambridge 8½-6½

1967 Rye Cambridge 9½-5½

1966 Hunstanton Cambridge 22½-7½

1965 Royal St George’s Cambridge 21-9

1964 Rye Oxford 20-10

1963 Royal Birkdale Cambridge 12½-2½

1962 Hunstanton Tie 7½-7½

1961 Royal St George’s Oxford 11-4

1960 Royal Lytham & St Annes Cambridge 9-6

1959 Burnham & Barrow Cambridge 8½-6½

1958 Rye Cambridge 8-7

1957 Royal St George’s Oxford 10-5

1956 Formby Oxford 10-5

1955 Rye Cambridge 8-7

1954 Rye Cambridge 8-7

1953 Rye Cambridge 9-6

1952 Rye Cambridge 10-5

1951 Rye Cambridge 10½-4½

1950 Royal Lytham & St Annes Oxford 9½-5½

1949 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 8-7

1948 Royal St George’s Oxford 11-4

1947 Rye Oxford 9-6

1946 Royal Lytham & St Annes Cambridge 10-5

1940-45: Match not played

1939 Royal St George’s Cambridge 10½-4½

1938 Westward Ho! Cambridge 10½-4½

1937 Prince’s Cambridge 9-6

1936 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 12-3

1935 Burnham & Barrow Cambridge 8-7

1934 Formby Oxford 8½-6½

1933 Prince’s Cambridge 11-4

1932 Royal Lytham & St Annes Oxford 9-6

1931 Royal St George’s Oxford 9-6

1930 Royal Liverpool Oxford 12-3

1929 Rye Cambridge 9½-5½

1928 Prince’s Cambridge 8½-6½

1927 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 9-6

1926 Burnham & Barrow Cambridge 9-6

1925 Hunstanton Oxford 9-6

1924 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 9-6

1923 Rye Oxford 9-6

1922 Prince’s Cambridge 8-7

1921 Royal Liverpool Oxford 12-3

1920 Sunningdale Cambridge 6-3

1915-19: Match not played

1914 Rye Oxford 5-4

1913 Royal Liverpool Tie 4-4

1912 Prince’s Tie 4-4

1911 Rye Oxford 5-3

1910 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 5-3

1909 Royal St George’s Oxford 6-2

1908 Sunningdale Cambridge 4½-3½

After 1907 the format changed from holes won to matches won

1907 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 23-22

1906 Royal Liverpool Cambridge 30-7

1905 Sunningdale Cambridge 52-3

1904 Woking Oxford 14-12

1903 Royal St George’s Oxford 37-10

1902 St George’s, Oxford 52-5

1901 St George’s, Oxford 28-9

1900 St George’s, Oxford 69-0

1899 St George’s, Oxford 25-7

1898 St George’s, Cambridge 16-5

1897 St George’s, Cambridge 16-11

1896 Wimbledon Common Tie 4-4

1895 St George’s, Cambridge 11-8

1894 St George’s, Oxford 20-7

1893 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 33-1

1892 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 18-6

1891 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 16-5

1890 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 15-14

1889 Wimbledon Common Oxford 18-0

1888 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 20-12

1887 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 16-4

1886 Wimbledon Common Oxford 39-2

1885 Wimbledon Common Oxford 39-1

1884 Wimbledon Common Oxford 18-16

1883 Wimbledon Common Oxford 15-13

1882 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 8-7

1881 – Match not played

1880 Wimbledon Common Oxford 9-1

1879 Wimbledon Common Cambridge 12-2

1878 Wimbledon Common Oxford 24-0

A Cambridge Undergraduate Student in 1896

A Cambridge Undergraduate Student in 1896