The Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, founded in 1898, is the oldest golfing society in the world. Known simply as The Society, its 700 members are mostly those who have gained their ‘blue’ by taking part in the annual university match. The Oxford and Cambridge Golfing society plays about thirty five matches each year and holds its match play competition each January at the Rye Golf Club in England, known as the President’s Putter at Rye. The format of the play at Rye is “foursomes”.
As the society states, “election to the Society is no automatic affair and each new member wears his tie of light and dark blue stripes upon a green background with great pride.” Many well known golf personalities have been members of the society including Bernard Darwin, Henry Longhurst, Harvey Pennick, Dickinson, H.S. Colt, C.H. Alison, H.S.C. Everard, Horace Hutchinson and Donald Steel.
Surprisingly, there have been six books published about The Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, which tells you how serious this little-known society is.
The Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society 100 Years of Serious Fun was published by Grant Books in 1997 in two different editions. The President’s Edition was published in a hand-numbered limited edition of 150 copies bound in half morocco at the bindery of Cedric Chivers. Each copy is signed by John Whitmore, the president of The Society and the editors: Peter Bathurst and John Behrend. This edition comes with a green slipcase with gilt titling. Slipped into the back pocket of this edition is a small twelve page facsimile booklet for the 1899 Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, listing the club’s rules, members and a report. It is superbly done!
The book contains a chapter written by Herbert Warren Wind, who wrote about this special society for The New Yorker in 1972. As with all of Wind’s work, it is great.
There was also a limited edition version of the book published, with 750 copies issued with a dustjacket. Images of both the limited editions are seen above.
The Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society 1898-1948 was written by Eric Prain in 1949 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the society. The book was issued with a dust jacket, but copies with it present are difficult to find. It contains two parts: Part one includes ‘The Early Days’ and ‘Rye’ by Bernard Darwin, ‘The American Tour’ by H.W. Beveridge, ‘Tours Between the Wars’ by Eric Prain as well as contributions by a selection of authors on ‘Some Society Personalities’. Part two is comprised of lists of winners and runners-up and results of matches and tours.
The book was also published in a rare presentation copy of sheepskin leather. It is not known how many of each edition was printed
For hard core Oxonians or Cantabrigians
Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society: the Presidents Putter 1947-1971, is a 25 page booklet privately printed in 1971 by Peter Bathurst.
John Littlewood published three books: The Society: Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society. The President’s Putter, 50 Putters; 1920-1976, a Statistical Analysis. It was privately printed and is 32 pages. Apparently, it was such a popular piece that John published two more, covering the time periods 1920-1987 and 1920-2002, called 60 Putters and 75 Putters, respectively.
Bernard Darwin has written, “The Society achieves the complete and perfect fusion of Oxford and Cambridge. Once a man belongs to it we forget to which university we belonged.”