The first varsity golf match between Oxford and Cambridge was played on 13th March 1878 at Wimbledon. I’m delighted to find that Oxford won 24 – 0. According to Golf Monthly it is the oldest amateur event in the game, because the British Amateur Championship was first played in 1885. It is also the oldest surviving team competition in English golf.

I posted recently about Oxford University winning the third FA Cup in 1874. Varsity sports do seem to have been at the cutting edge of competition. Wimbledon is the second oldest continuously played course in England and Wales. The London Scottish Rifle Volunteers set up the first seven holes in 1865. The oldest course in England is Royal North Devon, at Westward Ho! It was established in 1864, so just pipped Wimbledon. The first course in Wales seems a little more difficult to establish, but the BBC say that golf was being played to the west of Tenby in 1875.

I suppose that rowing and rugby are the most famous varsity sports, well I don’t know of any others that are televised. Neither Oxford nor Cambridge can claim to have formed the first rugby club, that prize appears to belong to Guys Hospital, whose rugby club dates back to 1843. Oxford formed its rugby club in 1869, Cambridge joined in three years later. The first boat race between Oxford and Cambridge was rowed in 1829.

When I was at Oxford I didn’t make it into the Blues golf team but played for the Divots, which is the second team. It was fabulous golf, we played at many of the best courses in the country, and enjoyed the generous hospitality of our hosts. I still enjoy playing with my college golf society, and have been picked to play in the Oxbridge Alumni Invitation Golf day in June at Berkhamsted Golf Club, which I think dates back to 1890.

I asked ChatGBT to paint the first golf match between Oxford and Cambridge universities at Wimbledon in 1878. At least AI didn’t set it on a tennis court.