Origins of the Salver
It's sad that such a great and enduring institution as the Goldthorpe Salver should arise from tragedy.
Philip Goldthorpe died suddenly in 1981 from a brain haemorrhage; he was only 29.
The plan to inaugurate a golf tournament in his honour was proposed soon after his death. Philip had not being playing long, but had embraced the game with tremendous enthusiasm; he'd recently joined Huddersfield Golf Club, and his handicap seemed certain to fall swiftly. In fact he'd been looking forward to a golf trip to Heworth near York with four or five others - amongst them Chris Sampson, Mike Webb, John Shires and Tim Sugden - when he died.
No-one seems able to remember exactly who first came up with the idea of a golf competition, although it seems likely that it was first mentioned over a pint or two, probably in the Rose & Crown at Thurstonland. In any event, Phil's widow Lisa was approached, agreed it would be a fitting memorial, and bought the trophy - a silver salver - herself.
The first Goldthorpe Salver took place in late Summer 1981 at HGC at Fixby. Many of the competitors had known Phil since they were together at St David's Preparatory School in Huddersfield, and some had also played football with him for the Huddersfield Amateurs.
Others included friends from the golf club and work colleagues from Eddisons. The competition - held over 18 holes, and followed by a meal in the Halifax Room - was an immediate success, and there was never any doubt that it would become an annual event.
Under Chris Sampson's efficient stewardship, the Goldthorpe Salver continued annually at Fixby for the next nine years, but in 1990 it was suggested that it might be to appropriate to mark the tenth anniversary by being a little more ambitious.
After Portugal and Spain had been ruled out on grounds of cost, Charles Webb - who knew many fine courses and hotels through his work in corporate hospitality - was invited to draw up a short list of alternative venues, and Silloth-on-Solway GC, which was already a popular destination for members of both Fixby and Woodsome Hall, was chosen.
Twelve competitors made what has now become a familiar annual two day pilgrimage to the shores of the Solway Firth one Thursday in September 1991, and enjoyed it so much that they voted to return again the following year.
From the outset it was decided that those who wanted to could play 72 holes over the two days, but the competition for the Salver itself would be played over 36 on the Friday. The first trip in 1991 also saw the birth of another tradition. After the first night in the Golf Hotel, when dinner was served in the main dining room, evening meals have always been taken in a private room next to
Huddersfield GC, Fixby Hall
the front entrance - a far better arrangement that has allowed competitors to get on with the arduous job of having a good time in relative privacy.
Other traditions evolved gradually. Photographs suggest that, although he'd worn it on several previous occasions, Andrew Sugden's Check Jacket wasn't awarded to the winner until 1998 - thereafter, it became a regular feature. Similarly the Goat Tie didn't make its first appearance until the following year in 1999.
The Golf Hotel, Silloth-on-Solway
Andrew Sugden presents his check jacket, 1998
Apart from one short break while he was working in Belgium, leaving Steve Sutcliffe to take up the reins, Chris Sampson continued as organiser until after the conclusion of the 2001 event, which was in itself another milestone.
The previous year it had been decided that the 20th anniversary tournament should be held abroad, but yet again, Spain and Portugal were ruled out, leaving…..the Isle of Man.
A team of 12 flew out from Liverpool's John Lennon International airport, staying at the Mount Murray Hotel, and playing two rounds each at Mount Murray and the impressive Castletown course. While the catering and the course at the hotel left something to be desired, the trip did include perhaps the best meal in the history of the event - in a private room at a restaurant owned by TV chef Kevin Woodford.
Mount Murray, Isle of Man
Castletown GC, Isle of Man
The following year the Salver returned to Silloth with a new but equally efficient organiser - Mark Nicholson - and it continues to go from strength to strength.
It's safe to say that Phil would be proud to have given his name to an event that has given so much pleasure over the years, but also mightily annoyed that he hasn't been around to enjoy it himself.