History of the Aero Golfing Society
The origins of the Aero Golfing Society can be traced back to 1909, to a number of entries over the years in Flight Magazine, then a weekly journal used by the Aero Club (later to become The Royal Aero Club on the 15th February 1910) to communicate with its members. The first is in June 1909, where -
"The Committee of the Aero Club have under consideration the advisability of acquiring the golf course which immediately adjoins the flying ground at Shellbeach. Golfing members are therefore requested to notify the Secretary at once if they are likely to make use of the course, so that the Committee may have some idea as to what support will be forthcoming."
The author of this content was the secretary Harold E Perrin, who is the link to the future Aero Golfing Society. There is no evidence as to whether the land was purchased and the next Flight reference is after the war in November 1919, with the following announcement:
Addington Golf Course near Croydon, Tuesday, November 18, 1919, commencing at 9.30 a.m.
Morning Round. – 18 holes under handicap medal round. 1st prize, value £10. Presented by Lieut-Col. F. K. McLean and Lieut-Col. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon M.P. 2nd prize, value £5, presented by Mr. E. W. Touboul.
Afternoon Round. – 18 holes under handicap. Bogey. 1st prize value £10, presented by Mr. Stanley May. 2nd prize value £5, presented by Lieut-Col. Charles Jarrott.
Handicap limited to 18
Entries close Thursday, November 13, 1919. at 6 p.m.
No Entrance Fee
Members wishing to compete are to forward their names to the Secretary giving name of golf club and handicap.
H. E. Perrin Secretary.
The prizes are no mean sum in those days and one assumes that golf was played at a much faster pace or lunch was a rapid affair.
The third Flight reference dates the foundation of our Society to July 1922 with the following announcement under the heading:
Aero Golfing Society
A new golfing club has been formed under the above title with Lieut-Col. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon, M.C., M.P., as President. A Committee (pro Tem) has been appointed, including A. J. A. Wallace Barr, P. Barry, Cmdr. W. Briggs R.N., Lieut-Col. W. A Bristow, C. R. Fairey, E. B. Parker, Capt. L. V. Pearkes. Lieut-Col. F. K. Mclean is Hon Treasurer and Mr. Harold E. Perrin Hon Secretary.
The Headquarters are at the Royal Aero Club, 3 Clifford Street, London, W.1.
Membership (limited to 100) is open to officers and ex-officers of the R.N.A.S, R.F.C and R.A.F., and to gentlemen engaged in the Aircraft Industry; The annual subscription is 10s.
The above are then the founders of our society, and its Secretary, Harold Perrrin, known as ‘Harold the Hearty’, an early balloonist, brilliant organizer and superb raconteur who fostered and encouraged the members’ natural bent towards enthusiastic, determined and argumentative individuality in the battle against authority to establish the right to freedom in developing Britain’s remarkable lead in aviation. His role is commemorated in the Harold Perrin Trophy awarded annually for the lowest aggregate by players under 14 handicaps.
The final Flight entry in September 1922 is significant, as it is the Society’s intention to hold our centenary in 2022 at St. Georges Hill
"The first Autumn Meeting of the Aero Golfing Society will be held, by the kind permission of the St George's Hill Golf Club, on the latter's links at Weybridge on Wednesday September 20. In the morning there will be the Medal Round for the Aero Golfing Society Autumn Challenge Cup (presented by Cellon, Ltd). Runner-up, prize from the Society. The afternoon will be devoted to Bogey Foursomes: 1st prizes (to be) presented by Mr. C R Fairey, 2nd prizes from the Society. Members may select their partners for the Bogey Foursomes, and it is understood they play together in the Medal Round in the morning. Couples fixing up should notify the Secretary beforehand. Members requiring partners should also notify the Secretary. The first couples will tee off at 10 o'clock.
The Committee (of the Aero Club) has decided that this being the first meeting of the Society an Informal Dinner shall be held at the Royal Aero Club on the evening of the meeting. Price 5 shillings each."
As the society grew there was a meeting at Brancaster, in 1927 (see opposite), where participants even flew to meetings! Is this an aspiration for the future perhaps? We are not quite sure where they landed at Brancaster though, the first fairway probably.
In 1932 we have the following:
Aero Golfing Society v. Felixstowe and Martlesham (R.A.F.)
A golf match between Aero Golfing Society and Felixstowe and Martlesham (R.A.F.) for the Challenge Trophy, presented by the Aero Golfing Society, was played at Woodbridge on Saturday, April 2, resulting in a victory for the Royal Air Force. It was a 10 a side match of 36 holes, decided on holes up, the final score being Royal Air Force 29, Aero Golfing Society 22.
The following were the teams:
Felixstowe and Martlesham (R.A.F.): S. N. Morris, Fit. Lt. E. D. Barnes (Captain), Fit. Lt. V. S. Parker, Fit. Lt. C. H. Cahill, F/O . G. L. G. Richmond, Fit. Lt. D. S. Earp, Sqd. Ldr. E. Digby Johnson, Fit. Lt. E. P . M. Davis, F. W. Meredith, Sqd. Ldr. H. W. McKenna.
Aero Golfing Society: A. J. A. Wallace Barr, Fit. Lt. L. Massey Hilton, F . E. N. St. Barbe, A. G. Hazell, Maj. C. J. W. Darwin, H. E. Perrin, C. R. Fairey, Lt. Col. W. A. Bristow, Sqd. Ldr. T. H. England, F. Handley Page (Captain).
In the evening the Aero Golfing Society entertained the Royal Air Force team to dinner at the Felix Hotel, when the Challenge Trophy was duly presented.
From its early beginnings the Aero Golf Society drew its members from the entire spectrum of UK aviation; military, civil, manufacturing industry and specialist sub-contractors. The society has operated continuously since 1922 with a short break during World War II, from 1940 to 1945, has an active membership of over 100 and still draws members from across the aviation spectrum.
A glance at the list of Presidents and Captains includes many illustrious names of those who founded aviation in the UK, beginning with our first President, Lord Brabazon of Tara, GBE, MC, PC, which again demonstrates the closest links between the dawn of aviation and the Aero Golfing Society.
In more recent years, the society held an annual December dinner in London, using Service clubs as venues. In 1975 it was held at the Naval & Military Club with a traditional Christmas menu, which, at different venues has continued to this day. We reproduce here the 1975 menu and guest list.
Trophies & Meetings
There is a notice published in Flight magazine of 17 July 1924, in the diary of forthcoming events for the Royal Aero Club, of a meeting on 2nd October of the Aero Golf Society, Autumn Meeting held at Moor Park Golf Club for the AGS Challenge Cup presented by Cellon (Richmond) Ltd.
The Society’s current golfing calendar comprises four matches, nine member’s events, including two guest days, all played over the years at
reputable golf clubs in the South of England. There is also an Annual Tour, which takes members all over the UK and into France.
The matches are against the Royal Navy Golf Society for The ‘Perfect Green’ Trophy, The Army Officers Golf Society for The AugustaWestland Trophy, The Royal Air Force Golf Society for The Keith Davies Cup and A&AEE (now DERA) Boscombe Down for the Handley Page Trophy. Frederick Handley Page was Captain twice, in 1932 as F Handley Page and again in 1946 as the first Captain post war as Sir Frederick Handley Page. The image below shows the 1990 teams.
Our oldest trophy, the Flight Challenge Cup was originally named the Aero Golfing Society Spring Challenge Cup and it is so engraved. However, as it is currently played for at the Summer meeting at The Berkshire Golf Club, it had to be unofficially renamed. It was presented by the Flight and the Aircraft Engineer magazine, which was the official organ of the Royal Aero Club. The first winner was W A Bristol in 1923 and the trophy is inscribed with some illustrious names including Douglas Bader.
Details of other trophies contested for can be found on the Trophies page of this site.