Yorkshire Rabbit Golf Association
Founded 1937 at Knaresborough Golf Club and now based here
Origins of "Rabbit" Golf
The essence of a golf club is to create a place where members can enjoy playing competitive and social golf in a private environment and to be able to play inter club events such as Team knockouts etc. Representing your club in these events usually meant that you were the lowest handicap or dare I say the best golfer. Golf Clubs like the prestige of having the best players who can win these external events.
This of course means if you are a high handicapped golfer the chances of playing in external competitions is zero.
This must have been a bone of contention for a Mr Kitching from Knaresborough Golf Club. In their minutes dated 22nd September 1922 proposed by Mr Kitching and seconded by Mr Broadbank " That a match be arranged with Oakdale Golf Club for Saturday next for players of 18 handicap and over"
This is the first record we have of the beginnings of Rabbit Golf. We have no idea why the word Rabbit was used.
By 1934 Knaresborough & Oakdale were joined by Pannal, Wetherby. Shortly after that Garforth,Low Laithes and Horsforth joined too.
The idea of forming an Association originated from a Mr Dibbs of Wetherby GC. A meeting was convened by a Mr Midgley who was the Captain of Knaresborough Rabbits at the time.(Was he the first Rabbit Captain)
In October 1937 the clubs represented at this inaugural meeting held at Knaresborough GC were:
Mr Walker from Horsforth GC offered their club for an open competition if required
1938 - The "West Riding Rabbit Golf Association" was formed.
1939 - Arrangements were made to increase the number of clubs and have an annual competition. This was called the Thornton Trophy which is still played for today. It was donated by a Mr Thornton(Wetherby GC), who then was asked to be the first President.
1946 - After the war was over a meeting was held at the Victoria Hotel in Leeds to revive the Association. The membership that year was 15 clubs.
1948 - Bradford Area was formed - The Norman Watson Cup was introduced. This was for the person with the best Gross in the Thornton Trophy
1949 - The West Riding Foursomes Competition started. This became known as the "Fowler Trophy when it was donated by Mr Fowler later that year
1950 - The Plowright trophy was started. This is an inter Area competition. The Trophy was donated by Mr Plowright from South Bradford GC who would go on later to be President (1953/4)
1953 - The formation of the Halifax,Huddersfield and District Rabbit Golf Association
1954 - There was now 5 areas.
1955 - At the AGM it was agreed to change the name of the West Riding Golf Association to the Yorkshire Rabbit Golf Association (YRGA).
1968 - The Flamborough and District Rabbit Golf Association was founded and became the sixth area in the YRGA.
1983 - The Fred Brown Salver for the best Nett in the Thornton was first played for. Donated by the former President's wife after he died as a memorial trophy.
2014 - The Association returned to be based Knaresborough G C where it all began.
Today there 6 areas: Bradford - Flamborough - Halifax & Huddersfield - Harrogate - Leeds - Wakefield - and 101 clubs make up the membership of the YRGA.
Did Mr Kitchin have this vision of a united fraternity of golfers all with handicaps 16 and over and aged 18 upwards? Who knows; but it was an excellent idea which in its own way has created probably the largest golf club in the world and one that is still growing.