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A Brief History of the Senior Golfers' Society

The idea of Seniors' golf was brought to Britain by prominent members of the United States and Canadian Senior Golfers’ Associations. In both of these countries Seniors‘ golf had been established well before our Society - in the USA in 1905 and in Canada in 1918. With the creation of the Canadian Association the two countries played annual matches against one another.

In 1926 a game of golf took place at Stoke Poges between the Captain of the US Seniors, the President of the Canadian Seniors and Lt Colonel Frank Popham. Over drinks afterwards it was suggested that a Society be formed in the UK so that three-cornered matches could be arranged between the three countries. Colonel Popham was enthusiastic about the idea and moved swiftly to establish the Senior Golfers’ Society. A meeting was held in the Golfers’ Club, Whitehall Court on 10th December 1926 and, using the US Association’s constitution as a guide, our Society was formed. The forty men who attended the meeting were invited to become Life Members on payment of £2 and all enrolled. The first President, the Earl of Balfour, and two Vice Presidents, Lord Lurgan and the Earl of Derby, were appointed.

By the early 1930’s the Society had grown to over 500 members. Today we have 750 paying members and nearly 200 Honorary Life Members who are aged over 80 and who no longer have to pay the subscription. We play nearly 140 matches each year against clubs and societies across the UK as well as less frequent fixtures with fellow Seniors in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Chile and Bermuda. In addition, the Triangular Matches against the USA and Canada, which were the original reason for the Society’s existence, are played every two years. In May each year we hold our Championship Meeting at our “home” club Woking while our Autumn Meeting is held alternately at Muirfield and Prestwick.

One of the guiding principles of the Society is that Foursomes is the finest form of golf known to man. All our matches are played as foursomes and we encourage our visitors from overseas to discover the delights of the format.

The Society’s crest is a shield containing the Rose, the Shamrock, the Thistle and the Leek with crossed golf clubs above. The motto in Latin can be loosely translated as “They can because they think they can”.

Membership of the Society is by invitation and even then we have more proposed members than there are spaces for them. As a consequence once names have been proposed and seconded they are placed in an annual ballot where those fortunate enough to be drawn out become members of the Society. The unlucky remainder have to wait another year until the next ballot. After six ballots those names who have not been drawn out are advised that with regret they will not become members of our Society.