Halifax, Huddersfield & District Rabbit Golf Association Open Forum at Bradley Hall Golf Club on Wednesday 29th February 2012


The meeting was opened by John Turner, the Association’s 2008 President. Thanks were expressed to the 19 clubs who had completed and returned the two questionnaires about the HHDRGA Competitions in 2012 and the Rabbits Friendlies questionnaire and all present were welcomed to the meeting.


At the Association’s AGM in November 2011 three concerns were raised:-

1. That some of the Association’s member clubs had not supported all of the Competitions in 2011.
2. Some clubs had had difficulty in raising league teams in the past, and
3. Some clubs were finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill Friendly matches.

The Association’s President agreed to set up a Working Party to investigate the issues raised. Two questionnaires were issued and the results were analysed and formed the basis of the feedback to the meeting. A lively and helpful discussion ensued.

HHDRGA Competitions in 2012

The League – all 22 member clubs are expected to participate. Two clubs had experienced difficulties in the past in providing “high” men. These issues seemed to emanate from the way in which Handicaps were allocated and could only be resolved internally by the respective clubs. Overall fears about raising teams across the piece hadn’t materialised based on the feedback received.

The League Cup/R T Morley & The Mellor Competitions – Only one club had indicated that they would not be participating this year.

President’s Day/Jubilee Trophy & The Norgate Trophy – All clubs had indicated their intentions to take part with only one club expressing that mid-week competitions create problems with availability. If 5 and 6 day members were allowed to participate that may help to alleviate the difficulties.

Finals Day – Only two clubs had indicated that they may not be able to attend with a third indicating that if it clashed with a domestic competition it may cause some difficulty. This year as Finals Day is at a 9 hole course only one pair from each club is required for the better-ball competition and most seemed confident about putting in a team.

The mood of the meeting was overall very positive about the prospects of another good season in 2012.

Communications are vital and the website www.hhdrga.co.uk will be kept up to date and the secretary David Stubbings, competitions co-coordinator Peter Ford and webmaster Mike Stedman are there to provide help, advice and information as are the Committee.

Rabbit Friendly Matches

These were last investigated in 2006 (see below) and it was not surprising to find that for some clubs the issues back then were remarkably similar to those faced now. Six issues were raised back then and indeed again now and these were as follows:-

• Number of fixtures
• Number of new players and competition from Seniors’ golf
• Start times & changes in life styles & work patterns
• Format of play – back then many felt that it was not competitive enough
• Dress Code
• Meal Arrangements

.What actually came back though in the latest feedback was that your potential solutions are in many ways radically different.

If there is one overriding theme in your feedback it is one of flexibility. It appears that those clubs that have a flexible approach across all the potential problem areas and issues faced seem to encounter fewer problems.

• Number of fixtures – there seemed to be a consensus of opinion about not being over ambitious: cut your cloth accordingly. You may be thinking that it is difficult to drop some matches but your counterparts at other clubs may be as relieved as you would be to have that discussion or to consider home and away matches bi-annually.
• Team Composition – 8 players per side seems to be more manageable. Pulling in Tigers / Ladies / Juniors / Guests, etc. seems preferable to being short of players while accepting it’s primarily for Rabbits.
• Start times – most friendlies take place in the evening: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays between 4.30 & 5.00 in the main. Reducing the number of holes played can impact favorably on overall duration and at least one club finishes the match at 8.30. However Halifax Golf Club has found Sunday fixtures very appealing and there was a good deal of enthusiasm at the meeting to give it a try as it resolves many of the timing, changing & food issues faced mid-week.
• Format of play – creativity of approach seems to help. Mixing up the teams has been found to help as does the format, eg Texas Scramble or yellow ball formats may be worth a try. Bottles of wine for the winners can still provide a competitive edge if that were necessary.
• Dress code – generally a more relaxed format seems to have developed. The point was made that within our own Union many scratch teams no longer shower and change after the match. Smart casual was becoming increasingly popular. Showering and changing can delay eating by up to 30/45 minutes.
• Meal arrangements – there was a very strong message of flexibility. It can range from 2 courses to 1 course, Buffets – hot or cold, soup & sandwiches, sandwiches & chips, Chili or curry, eat as 4 balls come in where time is really tight, etc. At West End even a Greek salad is not unknown.

The worst case scenario was that the Rabbit section at one club had reduced by 50% over the last 5 years but fairly static was generally the case. Enthusiasm was felt to be pretty good but some challenges remain.

• Personal time was felt to be an issue so anything that can be done to reduce it would be helpful as would added choices such as weekends may have its appeal.
• Cost – an issue at some clubs and simplifying the food is one of the few ways of reducing costs.
• Home matches – tend to be less attractive but one radical suggestion is to subsidise home matches.
• The pool of players – tends to be strong early season so it is important to give everyone a game as soon as possible and communicate well.
• Recruitment – attending meetings with new members and signing up Rabbits is a good breeding ground.
• The bigger picture – having a strategy for recruitment of new Rabbits is important as is an attractive social programme, special events, dinners, Rules nights, quizzes, etc.

In his closing remarks John Turner thanked all those who had completed the questionnaires and attended the meeting. He also thanked Mr President for setting up the Working Party and his colleagues for their valuable input.

John Turner (President 2008) 1st March 2012


It is clear that there is no easy panacea for promoting Rabbit golf – if only it were that simple. However it doesn’t feel, given the enthusiasm shown at the meeting and from the feedback provided, like Rabbit golf is in terminal decline or about to face its demise. For our part the Association will continue to actively promote Rabbits golf. However we cannot be complacent and your collective efforts at your respective clubs will be necessary for Rabbit golf to continue to thrive.


There was a special meeting held at Bradley Hall and organised by them in October 2006. This was regarding to the present situation with the Friendlies and how to move forward. Some clubs have experienced difficulties, So this meeting was called to address them and find ways of making Friendlies more appreciable and better supported.

Here a summary of the minutes of that meeting:-

Rabbit Friendlies into a new era

Minutes of meeting held at Bradley Hall GC 25th October 2006

Clubs Present:- Bradley Hall, Bradley Park, Castlefields, Crosland Heath, Elland, Huddersfield, Lightcliffe, Longley Park, Marsden, Meltham, Outlane, Ryburn, West End, Woodsome Hall

President of HHDRGA- Gordon Buchan

Clubs not in attendance:- Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury, Hebden Bridge, Halifax Ogden, Queensbury, Saddleworth. Todmorden, Willow Valley


The meeting was opened by Rob King, Rabbit Captain of Bradley Hall who thanked all the clubs for their support by their attendance. A warm welcome was also extended to Gordon Buchan, President of the HHDRGA.

A Power Point presentation then followed setting out, initially in summary form and then detailed point by point the key issues that it was felt needed addressing.


The reason behind the meeting stemmed from problems being experienced at Bradley Hall over the past 2 years in raising sufficient number of players to make up teams for Rabbit Friendlies.

The Rabbit committee of Bradley Hall had spent considerable time recently in reviewing / discussing the matter and had come up with ideas as how to reverse this trend and make the fixtures more attractive to potential players. The discussions had taken into account comments made by Rabbit Members as to why they were reluctant to play in Rabbit Friendlies matches.

Proposals were then formulated aimed at making the Friendly matches more appealing to a greater percentage of Rabbit members.

As this was known to be a problem experienced at other clubs it was felt that a district wide meeting where these ideas for change could be shared and discussed, would be a benefit to all. This matter was also raised at the HHDRGA. It was also recognised that clubs who were not experiencing such problems could offer ideas on good practice that could potentially be adopted by others.

The proposal put forward in the subsequent presentation were not meant to be rules for all to follow but an indication of how Bradley Hall would be looking to move forward in 2007.

Current Issues

1 Number of fixtures

2 Number of new players and competition from Seniors Golf)

3 Start times (changes in life style / work patterns)

4 Format of play(not competitive enough)

5 Dress code

6 Meal arrangements


Are there too many? Some clubs have 16. Should these be reduced to 10/12. Options to remove this many could have clubs not playing home and away in the same season. This can influence the availability of players. So reducing the number of fixtures.

Timing of the Friendlies could result in too many in such a short space of time.

Crosland Heath pointed out they were only allowed 5 home matches in 2007. Other clubs have posed the same point. So by reducing the Friendlies to 5 home and 5 away in a season could help.

Number of Players

Some clubs seem to be experiencing a general dwindling of numbers of players willing to turn out in Friendly matches. The impact of this has seen the team members at some clubs being reduced from past average of 10/12 to 8. Often when a team of 10/12 has been achieved it usually been achieved by excessive pressure and time by the organiser( usually the Vice Rabbit Captain). In view of this the 8/10 max has been suggested

A few clubs thought this feasible where others said that they were concerned changing the numbers each week.

It was said that good communication between clubs would help.

On the broader front on how to increase interest was dress code, meal times start times.

Lightcliffe say they have a new members meeting each year the make it a social occasion and from there encourage them to participate in the Friendlies.

Huddersfield, Woodsome & Meltham use the Friendlies to integrate new members. Some use a News Letter.

The critical issue is making Rabbit Golfers aware of these matches throughout the year.

Start Times

Most clubs advertise Friendlies as meet 4-45 and tee off from 5-00 onwards. Early starts are usually required at the beginning of the season late April and Early May only. With the large number of players (12) the the last tee times could be after 5-30 which of course can lead to a late finish. Woodsome and Crosland Heath seek to have earlier times 4-30. This of course creates a problem because some players cannot get there any earlier.

Suggestion was to allocate tee times at ten minute intervals to accommodate working players who want to play. Meltham tried that in 2004/5 and it worked.

Another suggestion was have Friendlies on a Sunday. One problem is it restricts the 5 day member

Format of play


Traditionally this has been a 4BBB comp ending in a honourable draw ( apart from Woodsome)

Should it be made a little more competitive to create interest – example: Texas Scramble, Yellow Peril, Stableford with a small prize at the end

Number of Holes played

The key factor in the number of holes played and meals times is which receives the greater complaint. Sometimes doing 18 holes can lead to a late meal and not doing 18 holes can leave players frustrated if the have never played there before and wanted to do the 18.

Some clubs like early finishes and some wish their players to do 18

Dress code

A number of players have expressed a desire to do away with the requirement to change into jacket and tie for the post match pleasantries. It has been suggested that this adds a time delay to the evening. A smart casual approach could be used.

As we are encouraging young Rabbits to participate in these matches it is a sign of current times that the requirement of Jacket and ties is unpopular when smart casual is preferred

This is down to individual clubs and their code of dress practice. But is another way of encouraging people to play.

Meal Arrangements

At present most clubs sit down to a 2 course meal together. The timing of the meal depends on the time the last players come in and gets washed and changed. Sometimes this can lead to a 10-00pm sitting. Which is too late for people to be eating and can sway players away from putting their names down.

Suggestions for speeding this up are:

Move from a sit down meal to a buffet this way players can have as much or as little as they wish.

In the middle of the season have a cold buffet.

Have soup and sandwiches

This way you can eat when you come off the course and have changed

Some clubs already do this


The adoption of some or all these proposals is seen as necessary if we are to retain and attract more players to Rabbit Friendlies. There is a need to move with times and make our fixtures more attractive to the new breed of golfers who are not steeped in the tradition of old. It is not a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water but some changes are needed if these matches are to continue in the future