Brabazon Trophy History

The Brabazon Trophy or to give it its official name, the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship was first played at Birkdale in 1947.

Not that it went under that name in 1947, rather the English Amateur International Trophy. However, in 1948 the present trophy was donated by Lord Brabazon of Tara, a pioneer aviator, Member of Parliament, accomplished golfer and captain of the R&A in 1952/53.

The event then reverted to the Brabazon Trophy but in 1957 the official title was introduced although the former is still more often used today.

The first winner in 1947 was Duncan Sutherland from Robin Hood Golf Club, but only after an 18-hole playoff against Jim Rothwell from Pleasington. Both finished the Birkdale course with a four-round aggregate of 306. This compares with the record of 271 returned by David Park at Saunton in 1997.

The first man to accept the actual Brabazon Trophy itself was Charles Stowe who won with 299 at Royal Lytham in 1948, while the first to successfully defend the title was Ronnie White at Formby in 1951 having also won the previous year at Birkdale.

Philip Scrutton won three times in four years (1952, ‘54 & ‘55) and in 1959 his mother together with his widow donated the Philip Scrutton Jug still awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate over the Brabazon and Berkshire Trophies.

In 1960 at Ganton, the name Wolstenholme was added to the list of champions, it being Guy, father of Gary, who has yet to win the title.

During his dominant years on the amateur scene, Sir Michael Bonallack won the Brabazon four times, the first at Royal Cinque Ports in 1964 and the last at Hillside in 1971. However, at Moortown in 1969 he shared the title with Rodney Foster, playoffs having been discarded in the mid-1960s.

Among other past winners of the Brabazon are Sandy Lyle, Gordon Brand Jnr, Ronan Rafferty, Peter McEvoy and Matt Richardson.

The title has gone overseas on several occasions, the first by Neville Sundelson of South Africa at Moortown in 1974, while another Springbok, Richard Kaplan won at Sunningdale in 1986. More recently, the overseas invasion has been stronger with the likes of Ignacio Garrido from Spain (1992), Peter Hanson from Sweden (1998), Germany’s Jochen Lupprian (2000), and Charl Schwartzel from South Africa (2002) lifting the trophy.

In keeping with its status as England’s blue riband event along with the English Amateur Championship, the Brabazon has always been played over the most prestigious English courses.  Royal Birkdale and Hunstanton have played host on five occasions each, while the event has visited Ganton, Woodhall Spa, Moortown, Hollinwell, Royal Liverpool and Saunton four times.

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