Men's and Women's Pennant enjoys a rich history within Victorian golf, with both competitions dating back over 100 years. Seven player men's and women's Pennant teams represent each participating club across an eight week season (including finals).
Colts Pennant commenced in the mid 1950's and involves five male players aged under 24 as of 1 January.
Friday Women’s Pennant commenced in 2009 with the move of Women’s Pennant to a Sunday competition. Originally known as Women’s Metropolitan Match Play, this competition was renamed in 2015.
The 2019 Men's Pennant season will see 48 clubs separated into six Divisions in accordance with finishing positions of the preceding season. 2019 Women's Pennant will involve 42 clubs across four Divisions. Colts Pennant will see 36 clubs participate in five Divisions, while Friday Women's Pennant sees 30 clubs competing across four Divisions.
2019 Pennant contests (in a round-robin format) in Men's, Women's and Colts' Divisions commence on Sunday 24 February, with Friday Women's Pennant commencing on Friday 1 March. The Finals for Men's, Women's and Colts' will be played on Sunday 28 April, with the Friday Women's Pennant Finals on Friday 26 April.
Men’s & Colts’ History
Men's (formerly VGA) Pennant commenced in 1899 between 5 clubs consisting of Geelong, Royal Melbourne, Surrey Hills (Riversdale), Kew and Essendon (Northern). Six players represented each club with Geelong winning the inaugural Season.
Over the past 100 years many changes to Pennant have taken place including:-
“B” Division Pennant commencing in 1903 and concluding in 1957.
Junior Pennant being introduced in 1954 with an initial age limit of 18. The following year the age limit was extended to 23. Junior Pennant was renamed Minor Pennant in 1967.
The introduction of Divisional Pennant in 1957, with 32 seven man teams divided into four Divisions, each with two sections. The addition of further clubs caused the formation of a fifth Division in 1972.
The conclusion of sections, “Home and Away” contests and Saturday play in Senior Pennant in 1988. This was replaced by the Divisional structure which exists today.
The addition of further clubs to the Pennant Competition saw the creation of Division 6 in 1999.
Today, in all Divisions of Men's Pennant, each club is represented by a seven man “Men's” team and a five man “Colts” team for Colts/Junior players. At both Men's Pennant and Colts Pennant levels, the competing clubs are divided into Divisions with a promotion/relegation system in operation to determine the composition of Divisions for the following Season.
The Pennant Season runs for 8 weeks with “Round Robin” match play contests between clubs at one venue in each Division every week. At the conclusion of the “Round Robin” contests, the two leading teams in each Division compete in finals to decide the Divisional flags.
Women’s Pennant History
Within six months of forming the Victorian Ladies Golf Union in 1906, a decision was made to introduce a pennant competition played out between Eaglemont (Yarra Yarra), Albert Park and Royal Park Golf Clubs and five of the Union's six founding clubs, Caulfield (Metropolitan), Essendon (Northern), Geelong, Kew and Surrey Hills (Riversdale). In 1907, Surrey Hills went through the season undefeated to win the inaugural VLGU pennant season.
In 1908, the increased amount of clubs affiliated with the Union justified the introduction of three pennant divisions – Senior, Junior A and Junior B. These divisions remained in place for quite some time, until the Union abandoned the Senior Division in 1946 and awarded pennant cups to winners in the Silver and Bronze divisions.
Pennant cups had been awarded to winning teams since 1910, with the exclusion of years between 1925 and 1946, when the Union awarded Pennant flags to winning Senior and Junior A teams only. One year later, the decision was made to award Senior, Junior A and Junior B pennant winners with a flag for their first win. The club could purchase another flag for additional wins at a price of 3.10.0. In 1970, the Union became a little more generous, offering to put an extra date on pennant flags if the club wins more than once, as the price of flags had risen to $27.
For most of Pennant's early years, Royal Melbourne Golf Club dominated the competition, including winning all three divisions in 1914. A few years later, in 1925 the Union abolished handicap limits within divisions, and ruled that teams were to be made up of five players, playing in handicap order. However, five years later, in 1930, the Union changed this rule stating that player order was up to the Captain as â??handicaps are not important in matchplay.
As we can see, many changes were occurring to the rules of Pennant, and in 1931 the Union established pennant guidelines. Firstly, pennant was played in handicap divisions. Pennant A, Scratch – 18, B: 19-30 and C: 30-36. Secondly, each team was to consist of seven players, all to play off scratch, and finally, cost to clubs to enter a pennant team was 10/-.
Pennant experienced even more changes in the 1960's and 70's, with many of the decisions made still applicable to today's game. Many of you may remember the decision in 1961 to allow clubs to give golf balls to pennant players, as the Union ruled that such an act would not affect a player's amateur status. Interestingly, the VGA did not agree to this at the time. In 1963 it was decided to allow town players to also compete for country pennant teams within the same season. In 1964, matches square after 18 holes were to go down the 19th, however this rule changed in 1968 with squared matches accounting for a half. In 1972 pennant teams were played with the lowest handicapper hitting off first. A discussion was had in 1974 to play teams in reverse order, however it wasn't until 1976 that this rule took effect.
Today, as has always been the way, women's pennant matches are fiercely contested, with all players representing their Club with passion and pride. Women's pennant in Victoria has been privy to have some of Australia's golfing legends play for city Clubs, such as Gladys Hay, Burtta Cheney, Nellie Gatehouse and Mona McLeod. We have also been privy to have current or previous touring professionals such as Nadina Light, Sarah Kemp, Emma Bennett, Kate Combes, Rebecca Stevenson, Stacey Keating, Grace Lennon, and Su-Hyun Oh playing for their Clubs.