Gold Medal & Champion of Champions
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Gold Medal - History
Leven Golfing Society has the distinction of being home to the oldest amateur stroke-play competition in the world.
To step on to Leven Links is to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest amateurs in the game and face a course which has challenged players whose clubs date back to the very origins of the game.
It was on July 11, 1870, that the captain and “council” of Innerleven Golf Club – the forerunner of Leven Golfing Society – were notified by their secretary that the Standard Assurance Company was presenting a gold medal for annual competition, and Thursday, August 4, had been fixed for the event.
That places the ``Innerleven Gold Medal’’ as taking place some 10 years before the inception of Glasgow’s Tennant Cup.
From that historic date, Standard Life each year has presented a gold medallion to the winner and, in more recent times, silver and bronze medallions to the second and third.
Standard Life was, in fact, the ``Proprietors of Lundin’’, this being one of the company’s earliest ventures into property investment.
The Amateur Champion Medal is a relic of the company’s possession of the estate which included the Innerleven Golf Course – and, of course, the Innerleven and Leven golf clubs amalgamated in 1957 to form the Leven Golfing Society.
The inaugural competition in 1870 was open “to the members of the Innerleven, Leven and Lundin Golf Clubs, and the members of such other clubs as the Captain and Council of the Innerleven Club shall approve, but makers of clubs or balls, or professionals, may not compete. The whole arrangements and management to be in the hands of the Captain and Council of the Innerleven Golf Club, who shall decide.”
Looking back well over a century now, it is fitting that such a prestigious tournament was first won by a player from a club that shared the Links with Innerleven – James Elder, of the Leven Golf Club, with a single round score of 85..
Although the Innerleven minute book for 1870 is unfortunately lost, those covering the years from 1876 to 1881 show the Gold Medal quickly became an established fixture on the golfing calendar, with entrants coming from a variety of UK clubs and even two from overseas – Quebec and Geelong.
In the long history of the tournament only one member of the Standard Life staff has been successful. He was Mr H. V. S. Thomson, local manager at Ayr and entered from Royal Aberdeen, who won in 1952 with a single round of 69.
Traditionally play for the Amateur Champion Medal (strictly the correct title) took place on the second day of the club's Summer Meeting. In present times, early August sees the reservation of Leven Links for the "Standard Life Gold Medal"
The competition continued over 18 holes until 1966 with the exception of the war years 1915 to 1918 and 1940 to 1945.
One of the great winners from the past was Eric A. McRuvie, Walker Cup player and Irish Open Champion, who won the medal on no fewer than seven occasions between 1927 and 1950.
From 1966 to 1968 the competition was played over 36 holes moving to 72 holes in 1969.
Some of the winning amateurs who went on to successful professional careers include 1986 Pierre Ulrich Johansson (1986), 1989 Andrew Coltart (1989), Lee Westwood (1993).
While winning the medal remains a much sought after prize, each year, every entrant who takes the tee can proudly claim to have played in the world’s oldest open amateur stroke-play competition.