The Ranken Todd Challenge Bowl was presented to Crail Golfing Society at the opening of the improved Balcomie Links in 1895 by Professor John Chiene. He was acting on behalf of members of his family (an ancestor had been one of the founding members of the Society) and the Fortunes of Barnsmuir who were descendants of Captain William Ranken the first “skipper” of the Society and Richard Todd, tenant of Balcomie Farm who used to keep Balcomie links in order for the members of the Society.
The Ranken-Todd competition day is perhaps the most important competition in the Society’s Golfing calendar and is enthusiastically anticipated by all the other golf clubs involved.
The competing clubs are drawn from the area between the Pitmilly Burn and the River Leven which was the extent of the jurisdiction of the Burgh of Crail as set down in a Royal Charter by Robert the Bruce soon after he became King of Scotland in 1306. This is the area defined in the conditions of play and normally results in an entry of around 24 four-man teams.
It was further stipulated in the original conditions that play would comprise a qualifying medal round in the morning by the teams of four players and the best four teams then go on to play matchplay in the afternoon both semi final and final which means that the runners up and the winners have to play three rounds of foursomes golf in the one day.
Everybody is together for lunch and those who fail to qualify for the matchplay stages play a four ball better ball together consolation strokeplay competition in the afternoon.
The Ranken Todd Challenge Cup deserves a place in golfing history and the tournament format is believed to be unique to Crail. It certainly generates tremendous enthusiasm as well as much sporting camaraderie among the competing teams, officials and supporters.