History of the World Club Championship

The World Club Championship celebrates twelve years of competition in 2016

In 2016, December 3-9, 24 of the world’s finest clubs from GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 World List will send their Club Champion and partner of choice with handicaps of 3 or better to compete at Ayodhya Links, one of the most exclusive courses in all of Asia, located just outside Bangkok, and ranked #76 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 list.

“The Championship has grown in stature around the world and club invitations have become more coveted. Future sites will vie for the opportunity to host this great amateur Championship,” predicts David V Smith, Golf Projects International Founder and the innovative creator of the concept for the World Club Championship. “Four countries have hosted the Championship including China, Mexico and the USA in addition to Korea. This year, we welcome Thailand as another country host.”

Often compared to the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and the President’s Cup by golf dignitaries, the World Club Championship began in 2002 to honor one of the oldest traditions in amateur golf, the Club Champion and the world class club to which he belongs. The Championship is distinguished as the only event in golf that features head-to-head competition by the world’s top clubs chosen from GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World.

In 2015, the World Club Championship was hosted by the two most renowned Clubs in Korea. The Club at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island held the 3-day tournament and Haesley Nine Bridges near Seoul was the site of the Merrins-Crow Plate AM/AM. On Friday, May 22nd the team of Justin Miller and Spencer Mellon, lifelong boyhood friends, of Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh, PA, USA were crowned the Champions. They defeated the San Francisco, USA Olympic Club team of Randy Haag and Kory Storer 2 & 1 in the Match Play Final. Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s, Australian team of Paul Little and Matias Sanchez won in the 3rd & 4th Match Play playoff 2 & 1 over the Portmarnock Golf Club of Ireland’s team Stephen Walsh and Jack Pierse. Defending champions Mark Elgner and Mark Baines of St. George’s Golf & Country Club won the Chairman’s Stroke Play tournament.

In 2013, on May 24th, the team of Mark Elgner and Craig Sinclair from St. George's Golf & Country Club in Canada were crowned the Champions with a 1Up in a highly contested Final of Match Play over Durban's Murray Gilson and Graeme Inggs. It was an especially sweet win after St. George’s lost in a very close finish to Seminole GC in 2012 at Diamante. The Chairman's Division was won by the youngest team of Pierre-Alexis Rolland (22) and Rubin Figueiredo (16) from Oitavos Dunes in Portugal with a 68 four under par. It was a long day with only 4 teams finishing under par and 2 teams finishing even. There were 44 birdies and 1 eagle on the par 4 No. 14.

In 2012, at Diamante, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, marked the 10th anniversary of the World Club Championship and fielded the most competitive teams since the inaugural year 2002. Seminole Golf Club of USA represented by David Abell and Kelly Miller, became the 2012 World Club Championship winners on Friday, November 2, 2012, when they narrowly defeated Mark Elgner and Colin Flabbi of St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Canada. The Seminole veteran team won the 2006 WCC for Pine Valley, USA and they have played together at the WCC four times always finishing near the top.

In 2011, the 8th World Club Championship held May 16-20, 2011 at The Club at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, South Korea presented the Jay Lee Trophy to Durban Country Club of South Africa represented by Michael Hollick and Murray Gilson on Friday May 10th. The 2011 champions defeated Patrick McCrudden and Anthony Murphy of the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland in an exciting Match Play Final with a decisive 6/4 victory.

In 2010, competition was postponed due to reconstruction of several holes at Nine Bridges.

In 2009, the Championship returned to its home club on Jeju Island, The Club at Nine Bridges to compete for the Jay Lee Trophy which was named for the club’s founder who has inspired and supported the event from the beginning in 2002. Continuing in match play format, this year’s final proved to be another six extra holes cliffhanger. In an unusual all-American final, Los Angeles Country Club players Dan Jennings and Brad Shaw dethroned defending champions Kelly Miller and David Abell of Pine Valley Golf Club.

In 2008, following in the tradition of rotating hosts, in 2008 the Championship moved to the magical and historical city of Beijing, which was the home of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and boasts the great tourist attraction, the Great Wall of China. Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club welcomed the great clubs from around the world October 6-11 for the 6th World Club Championship. In a race against darkness, Pine Valley Golf Club USA team of Chris Lange and Bill McGuinness competed in match play format to claim the coveted crown over the Royal Melbourne Golf Club team of Nick Wilton and James McMillan in a six hole sudden death, topping the dramatic final of 2007 which most thought improbable.

In 2007, the fifth annual World Club Championship returned to The Club at Nine Bridges and the Committee responded to the popularity of the event by expanding the invitations from 18 to 24 teams, and by adding another country to total 13. The match play format was introduced and Sunningdale Golf Club of England, the very first team to win the Championship in 2002, repeated a win with the team of Crispin Manson and Marcus Ferguson Jones. The 2006 defending champions Pine Valley Golf Club, USA succumbed after a nearly 9 hour round finishing on the fifth playoff hole. Royal Dornoch Golf Club of Scotland took 3rd Place.

2006 became a pivotal year for the Championship when the Committee recommended rotating host courses in order to broaden the opportunities for other countries and clubs to experience the World Club Championship. Sage Valley Golf Club, South Carolina, USA, just down the road from Augusta National became the host for the 4th Championship. Kelly Miller and David Abell of Pine Valley Golf Club, USA were victors in a playoff with Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia. Durban Country Club, South Africa finished third.

In 2005, the third Championship, although cut short due to rainstorms, proved to be very exciting as the two youngest players ever to compete were crowned. Chris Hughes, 18 and Matt McAlpin, 17 from Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland attributed part of their success to the weather, which was a day like any other on their home course. Sunningdale Golf Club and Royal St. George’s Golf Club, both from England, tied for second place.

In 2004, the second World Club Championship competition returned to Nine Bridges and the countries invited were doubled and expanded to 12 for further global reach. The Aussie team of Adam Porker and Richard Macafee of Kingston Heath Golf Club reigned. Los Angeles Country Club, USA and Sunningdale Golf Club, England tied for second place.

In 2003, the Championship was postponed due to Typhoon Maemi that brought devastation to the island of Jeju and to the Nine Bridges course.

2002 was the inaugural year for the World Club Championship was held at The Club at Nine Bridges with the participation of 18 teams from 6 countries. England’s team of Richard Caldwell and Lincoln Bolsover from Sunningdale Golf Club became the first Champions. Royal Melbourne, Australia came in second followed by Los Angeles Country Club, USA.