The history of the RCPCH Golf Day

Golf was played on the Friday afternoon when the “weather was sunny and all that could be desired” at the Royal County Down Golf Club... A fascinating insight into the history of the RCPCH Golf Day and the Ulster Cup.
The Ulster cup

Early annual meetings of the College’s founding organisation, the British Paediatric Association (BPA), were a balance of scientific communications and social activities. For a lot of members, the meeting was the only contact they had with the BPA. The first meeting in 1928 was held in “glorious weather” and the Friday afternoon was free for activities. Members enjoyed fishing and boating on Windermere lake, and in later years, rock climbing and cinema trips were popular.

On Friday 4 May 1928, 12 members took part in a golf competition organised by Dr Eric Pritchard. The game was won by founding member and secretary of that year, Dr Donald Paterson. Pritchard arranged a prize and presented Paterson with a silver-topped inkstand.

"The practice of certain members of the Association thus becoming publicans will not be encouraged.”

Notes from the 1935 annual meeting

The golf competition took place at the following six annual meetings with Pritchard continuing to offer a prize for the winner. The eighth annual meeting of the BPA in 1935 was held in Newcastle, County Down. It was an eventful meeting: the notes state the most outstanding feature of the meeting was the comfortable chairs in the room the communications were presented in and that, had it not been for the "extreme vigilance exercised by the President [Dr Hugh Thursfield] and by the Secretary [Dr A. G. Maitland-Jones], the members would have all fallen asleep."

Later, at the dinner, the Association had difficulties with the licensing laws of Ulster which led to the BPA secretary and an Ulster member personally applying for licences allowing them to sell alcoholic drinks to other members. It was noted that “the practice of certain members of the Association thus becoming publicans will not be encouraged.”

Golf was played on the Friday afternoon when the “weather was sunny and all that could be desired” at the Royal County Down Golf Club, and the tournament was won by Dr F. M. B. Allen. Eric Pritchard offered his prize as he had done previously but that year, three Ulster members also presented a two-handled silver cup to the winner. The cup is engraved with the words, ‘The Ulster Cup presented to The British Paediatric Association, Newcastle, Co. Down 3rd May 1935’. It stands on a base of silver crests carved with the names of winners, the locations and the year.

After the 1935 meeting, the Ulster Cup would be the prize that members competed for on the Friday afternoon of subsequent annual meetings, with the winner being presented with the cup at the Annual Dinner.

There have, however, been numerous draws, including a three-way tie in 1953. Dr Jim Littlewood OBE currently holds the record for the most wins (3½ times). A Northern Irish member is yet to win the cup, although numerous Republic of Ireland paediatricians have done so. The cup was presented to the winner at the annual meeting and recorded in the meeting notes from that year. The winner’s name was also printed in Archives of Disease in Childhood from 1959.

Since the introduction of the Ulster Cup tournament, golf tournaments have been played all over the UK, including Windermere, Ganton Golf Club between York and Scarborough, Boat of Garten in Scotland, and Kenilworth in Warwickshire. The last time the cup was competed for was in 2015 at Edgbaston Golf Club in Birmingham.

This autumn, the tournament will be held in the glorious surroundings of the PGA National course at The Belfry, near Birmingham. Bookings are now open to individuals and teams.

The Ulster Cup represents companionship, camaraderie and friendly competition between members of the College, and this year’s tournament will restart a tradition that was established at the very beginning of the College’s history.

Book your place to enjoy a great day and be a part of history.

Find out more about the this year's RCPCH Golf Day