Aldeburgh’s Secretary reveals how the historic club has embraced new and different golf formats... When it comes to offering a variety of formats for members, golf, it seems, still has a way to go. Research upon research, and article upon article, suggests that providing shorter-form golf, 9-hole golf, and mixed golf, is the way to engage with younger generations and keep those who flocked to the sport during the pandemic in membership. And yet, figures show that little is changing when it comes to competitive action. England Golf numbers revealed that 94 per cent of rounds submitted for handicap purposes were for 18-holes, leading Gemma Hunter, the governing body’s head of handicapping and course rating to say: “When we talk about the accessibility of golf and trying to encourage people to take that one or two hours out of their day to take part in the game, we’re still not reaching the heights that some parts of Europe are.” That cannot be said of Aldeburgh and their Secretary David Wybar. 9-hole golf is a fixture at the club, and over a recent two week spell, 33 per cent of cards returned were over the shorter format. The club, despite being traditional and a fixture of Top 100 lists, has strived to offer different 9-hole and mixed golf formats to members. We sat down with him to talk about what has been introduced… Aldeburgh offers both 9-hole and multi-tee genderless options alongside traditional competitions. Why did you decide to do this? I always stop and think that Aldeburgh was founded in 1884 as a mixed golf club - with ladies having the same playing rights and paying the same subscriptions. From day one, it was genuinely mixed – when there were a lot of clubs where you had either separate playing rights, subscriptions, or even separate clubs. On mixed golf, I’ve always been very keen to look at opportunities to build on that. Yes, we do have trophies that are ladies only and men’s only and I’m keen to respect the tradition of those but also encourage a more inclusive game of golf. Since In 1977, the Silver Jubilee Salver was presented by a member as a spring/summer singles knockout. That’s been open to both genders from the date of its presentation and it’s proven very popular. I was a lawyer before I became a golf club secretary. But I gave almost all my spare time to golf on a voluntary basis and so these things matter to me. When I became Secretary four or five years ago, I wanted to build on the tradition of the club but make sure we were gender neutral, where we could be, and giving all ranges of members opportunities to play and compete. You’ve got three sorts of people playing 9-holes. Beginners, the elderly for whom 18 holes is just a stretch too far, and then in the middle people who are time poor. Aldeburgh has three loops of nine. We have a short...
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