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Sport, ancient and modern: Golf

Pages 278-283

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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GOLF

Golf was first introduced into Middlesex in 1890 by the formation of the Staines and West Middlesex Clubs, which was followed in 1891 by that of the Northwood Club, and during the eighteen years that have since elapsed the game has made rapid progress. The Hillingdon and Finchley Clubs were established in 1892, and the Enfield, Stanmore, Hampstead, and Neasden Clubs in the following year; and the number of clubs in existence, which in 1900 had risen to twenty, is now fifty-one, (fn. 1) only four short of that in Surrey, which ranks first among the Home Counties in this respect.

The development of golf in Middlesex has, like that of other sports, been greatly influenced by the growth of London; and this influence, which in the case of field sports has been wholly destructive, has been in the main beneficial to the royal and ancient game. Only eight of the fifty-one clubs above mentioned are recruited from the county, and the remaining forty-three are London clubs, the establishment of which has not only promoted a taste for the game amongst Londoners, but by the creation of the links connected with them has also helped to preserve 'open spaces' from the encroachments of the builder. As, however, only seventeen of these London clubs have links, the same result cannot be claimed in respect of the other twenty-four, which are private clubs connected with the professions, societies, and social clubs, &c., and play, by special arrangement, on the links of other clubs. (fn. 2) The oldest of these—the bulk of which have come into existence within the last few years—are the Civil Service and Lloyds, both founded in 1894, and the Chartered Accountants' and the London Insurance Clubs, both founded in 1898. In addition to the three last-named clubs, there are eight others connected with trade and commerce—the Baltic Club, the City Liberal Club, the Chartered Surveyors' Society, the Discount Market Society, the London Metal Exchange Association, the Mark Lane Club, the London Stock Exchange Society, and the Spalding Club for the employés of the firm of Messrs. Spalding Brothers. The law is represented by the Bar Society, the Inns of Court Club, and the London Solicitors' Society; the stage, by the George Edwardes Society and the Green Room Club; and literature by the London Press Society. There is also a Cricketers' Golfing Society, membership of which is confined to players of first and second class counties and university 'blues'; and a London Free Church Ministers' Golfing Society. Lastly there are three clubs connected with Scotland: the Highland Societies Association, the London Lothian Association, and the London Scottish Border Counties Club. Setting aside these private clubs, and taking the county and London clubs together, (fn. 3) the total number of golf clubs owning links in Middlesex is twenty-five, nine of which— Northwood, Stanmore, Edgware, Hendon, Finchley, North Middlesex, Enfield, Bush Hill Park (Enfield), and Clayesmore School (Enfield)—may, roughly speaking, be described as situated in the north; five—Muswell Hill, Highgate, Hampstead, Neasden, and Wembley —in the east; seven—St. Quintin's, Acton'. Hanger Hill (Ealing), Ealing, West Middlesex, West Drayton, and Hillingdon (Uxbridge)—in the west; and five—Strawberry Hill, Fulwell, Home Park (Hampton Court), Ashford Manor, and Staines—in the south of the county. The northern and eastern links have the advantage of being situated on the highest land in the county, which in the former case has an altitude of 500 ft., and at Highgate and Hampstead of 450 ft.; while, with the exception of Acton and Hanger Hill, which lie on the slopes of slight elevations, those in the west and south of Middlesex are on level or very slightly undulating ground.

The Northern Links

The Northwood Golf Club, whose course, situated on undulating land not far from Ruislip Park, is one of the best within easy reach of London, was founded in 1891 by Captain Bennett Edwards and Mr. Wright-Nooth. The eighteen-hole course is about 3¼ miles round, the length of the holes ranging from 150 to 543 yds. 'Hilly, plentifully supplied with whins and gorse, with several ponds and a stream which has constantly to be negotiated, it is well provided with natural hazards. The greens are beautifully true . . . the eight-hole "death or glory" is by itself worth the journey to Northwood.' (fn. 4) Bogey is an easy 81, and the professional and amateur records 70 and 72. The club prizes consist of the Club Challenge Cup, the Coles Shield, the Autumn Cup, the Captain's Prize, and various medals. The best seasons for play are spring and autumn, but the course, which is well drained, is playable all the year. The number of members is limited to 300, with 50 provisional members.

The Stanmore Golf Club, instituted in 1893, has a course of eighteen holes, not far from Bentley Priory on the borders of Hertfordshire, laid out round a high hill from which there is a good view of the surrounding country. The green records are 68 (professional) by H. Vardon, and 71 (amateur) by Mr. M. Copland. There are for competition the President's Gold Medal (scratch), won in 1906 by H. R. Herbert, 77; the Gordon Bowl (holes) and club prizes including the President's and the Vice President's Cup.

Some 4 miles to the east of Stanmore are the links of the Edgware Golf Club, founded in 1906. The eighteen-hole course, 6,000 yds. in circuit, is laid out on the Canons Park Estate, on which a large club-house has been erected.

The Hendon Golf Club, established in 1903, has a course of eighteen holes, varying from 120 to 470 yds., on the east side of the main road from Hendon to Mill Hill; and 2 miles to the north of this is the Finchley Golf Club, instituted in 1903, the nine-hole course of which is 2,414 yds. in length, the holes ranging from 143 to 443 yds. The hazards are hedges and ditches on pasture land, with some artificial bunkers. The club prizes are a Gold Medal, a Challenge Cup, and monthly medals. Bogey is 76; the amateur and professional records being 72 and 68. There is a commodious club-house. Within 2 miles to the north again of this at Friern Barnet is the eighteen-hole course of the North Middlesex Golf Club, established in 1906.

Enfield, the most northerly home of golf in the county, has three clubs. The principal of these, the Enfield Golf Club, instituted in 1893, has a course of eighteen holes, 3 miles 295 yds. round, over the pasture land of the Old Park, with sporting natural hazards, including a winding brook which traverses the links, and numerous artificial bunkers and excellent greens. Bogey is 78, the green records being 73 professional (J. H. Taylor), and 70 amateur (Mr. W. H. Smallwood). Play is possible all through the year, the best months being April and November. There are Whitsuntide, Summer, and Christmas meetings, and the following prizes:— Monthly Gold Medal (handicaps to 14), Monthly Silver Medal (handicaps over 14), finals in October; Monthly Bogey Competition, final in October; Wyndcroft Bowl (thirtysix holes), Tatler Cup (holes), summer.

The other two Enfield Clubs are the Bush Hill Park Golf Club, with a course of nine holes (circuit 2,800 yds.); and the Clayesmore School Golf Club, instituted in 1897, which has also a nine-hole course with a lake as the chief hazard.

The Eastern Links

Like those in the north, the golf links in the east of the county all lie within easy reach of each other.

The Muswell Hill Golf Club was instituted in 1894. The course of eighteen holes, which is over 3 miles round, is situated between Muswell Hill, Wood Green, and Southgate, on pasture land covering a clay soil, the hazards being trees, ponds, ditches, hedges, hurdles, and artificial bunkers. Bogey is 75, and the record score in a club competition is 67. The prizes are the Quarterly Scratch Cup and a Handicap Cup. The course is playable throughout the year, but the best months are from May to September.

The eighteen-hole course of the Highgate Golf Club, instituted in 1904, is about 3⅓ miles in extent. It adjoins the Bishop's Wood at Highgate and includes the site of the ancient hunting lodge of the Bishops of London. The soil is clay, but the turf is very good and the lies are excellent, the holes being varied and of good length. The course, the hazards of which are artificial sand bunkers, is at its best from May to October, but is well drained and playable all the year round. Bogey is 77, the amateur record is Mr. J. O. Walker's 75, and the professional record by A. Saunders is 70. The prizes consist of a Scratch Medal, Monthly Medal, Captain's Prize, President's Prize (foursome), Reid Cup (quarterly), and Lyle Cup. The club-house has accommodation for ladies as well as men.

The Hampstead Golf Club, founded 1893, has a course of nine holes, with a length of about 2,500 yds., the holes varying from 100 to 420 yds. It is situated at Spaniards Farm, on pasture land with a clay soil, and has artificial hazards only. Play is possible throughout the year, the best months being April to September. Bogey is 78, and the amateur record, held by Mr. G. R. Girdlestone, is 71.

The New Neasden Golf Club was founded in 1893 by Mr. Stanley Clifford. The sporting course of eighteen holes, ranging from 120 to 510 yds., is on pasture land with a clay subsoil, and is nearly 3½ miles (6,120 yds.) in extent. There are numerous natural hazards, such as hedges and ponds, as well as artificial bunkers. The club-house, a fine old mansion, built about 1663, is said to occupy the site of a house mentioned in Domesday Book as the Great Neasden House. Bogey is 79, and the green record, both amateur and professional, held by Mr. A. E. Stoddart and J. Milne, is 75. The prizes include Monthly Medals, Monthly Bogey, Senior and Junior Halfyearly Gold Medals played for in May and October, the Harmsworth Cup (match play), the D. A. Howden Challenge Shield for medal play, and the McCalmont Hill Scratch Trophy, besides various other prizes for foursome competitions, and medal rounds.

The Wembley Golf Club, established in 1896, has an undulating course of eighteen holes, varying from 140 to 430 yds. It has been thoroughly drained and is always dry, and there is a club-house with every convenience. The club prizes include the Smith Cup, the James Cup, the Myer Salver, the Lorne Cup, the Carlton Shield, and the Scratch Medal.

The Western Links

The most easterly of the western golf links is the nine-hole course of the St. Quintin's Club, close to Wormwood Scrubbs. The club was instituted in 1894.

The Acton Golf Club, instituted in 1896, has an eighteen-hole course of 5,870 yds. (nearly 3½ miles), laid out by Park, in 1907. The holes range in length from 115 to 465 yds. The ground is old pasture land, and the hazards are ditches, ponds, and various artificial bunkers. The putting greens are very large and good. The club-house is an old-fashioned mansion on the village green of East Acton. Bogey is 78, but owing to the recent opening of the enlarged course no green records are as yet forthcoming. The club prizes comprise monthly medals, several challenge cups, and annual prizes offered by the president, Lord George Hamilton, and the captain. The course is at its best during spring, summer, and autumn, but play is practicable throughout the year.

There are two golf clubs at Ealing—the Ealing Golf Club, instituted in 1898, situated at North Ealing in the Brent valley, near Perivale; and the Hanger Hill Golf Club, instituted in 1900, the links of which are on the southern slope of the high ground above the town.

The eighteen-hole course of the Ealing Club is a little over 3 miles round, the holes ranging from 110 to 525 yds., and is laid over old pasture land on clay, with subsoil of gravel and brick earth. With the exception of some artificial sand bunkers the hazards are chiefly natural, consisting of the River Brent, ditches, and pits. Play is possible all the year, March to October being the best season. Bogey is 80, the amateur record being Mr. H. H. Hilton's 73, and the professional record 69 by G. Charles. The prizes are the Rothschild Cup, the Record Cup, Bogey and Medal Finals, and numerous annual prizes. The commodious club-house is at 14 and 15, Kent Gardens, close to the first tee and last green.

The course of the Hanger Hill Club also consists of eighteen holes, varying from 105 to 500 yds. The club-house is a fine old mansion situated on Hanger Hill.

The West Middlesex Golf Club, which shares with that of Staines the honour of being the oldest in Middlesex, was instituted in 1890. The course of eighteen holes, varying from 127 to 535 yds., is laid out on land near Hanwell belonging to Lord Jersey, on both sides of the main road from London to Uxbridge, about 8 miles from the Marble Arch. The hazards are gravel pits, ditches, ponds, and the railway, and the going is firm and dry. The record score in a club competition is 74 by Mr. C. T. Bazell. The professional record by C. R. Smith is 68, and the par 70.

The West Drayton Golf Club was founded in 1895 by a few gentlemen living in the neighbourhood, prominent amongst whom was Mr. Ernest Humber. The course of eighteen holes, which is bounded on two sides, and at one point crossed, by the River Colne, was originally laid out by the advice of Mr. Fairlie, but was altered and considerably extended in 1905 under the supervision of J. H. Taylor. It has a total length of rather over 3 miles, the longest hole being 521 and the shortest 125 yds., and traverses pasture land on gravel subsoil. The hazards are the river, ditches, and artificial bunkers. Play is possible all the year round, but is best during the spring, early summer, and autumn. The club house is the old Mill House. Bogey is 80. The amateur record is 72, held by Mr. H. W. Beveridge, and the professional record is Robert Thomson's 66. The prizes are the Fairlie Challenge Medal, the Grimsdale Cup, and the Gairdner Cleek Competition. (fn. 5)

The Hillingdon Golf Club, instituted in 1892 by the original trustees—Messrs. C. M. Newton, G. T. Worsley, and C. E. Stevens —has a nine-hole course, which was rearranged in its present form by J. H. Taylor, in the park of Hillingdon House at Uxbridge. The holes vary from 150 to 400 yds. The course lies over pasture land overlying gravel, gravelly loam, and clay, and the hazards are ditches, a stream, and artificial bunkers. Play is possible all the year, but is best during the winter months. Bogey is 39, and the professional record 34. The prizes are a scratch medal and cups, given by Mr. A. N. Gilbey.

Southern Links

The Strawberry Hill Golf Club, which was instituted in 1901, has a course of nine holes, varying from 150 to 448 yds., situated about midway between Twickenham and Teddington. Within two miles of this is the eighteen-hole course of the Home Park Golf Club, in the Home Park at Hampton Court. Here the turf is very fine, and the lies good, and, though somewhat flat, the links, being on gravel soil, are always dry.

The Fulwell Golf Club was originally instituted in 1904; it has been recently extended on the instigation of the hon. secretary, Mr. H. O. Stutchbury. It now has two eighteen-hole courses, opened for play on 19 November 1907, the longer of which is 6,000 and the other 5,000 yds. The shortest holes on each course are 125 yds., the length of the longest on the principal and second courses being respectively 514 and 437 yds. Both courses are laid chiefly over old pasture land on a light gravel soil, where the hazards are principally artificial, with a pond, a stream, and some gorse. They are playable all the winter, but the best months are May and June. Bogey for the principal course is 80, the green records being 71 professional (P. J. Gaudin), and 76 amateur (Mr. E. Gawne). The chief prize is the Tomlinson Challenge Cup, but there are also three monthly medals, and several prizes at the spring and autumn meetings, besides others given by individual members. There are two separate club-houses, for men and for ladies.

The Ashford Manor Golf Club, which is about three-quarters of a mile from Ashford, was founded in 1898. It has an eighteenhole course of nearly 3½ miles round, which, with the longer course of the same length at Fulwell just mentioned, is the longest in Middlesex; the holes vary from 148 to 461 yds. It is laid over pasture land with a gravel soil, with hedges, ditches, and artificial bunkers as hazards, and is playable throughout the year, being an especially good winter course. The club-house is the old Manor House, which adjoins the links. Bogey is 81, and the record 70 (Mr. H. W. Beveridge). There are spring, summer, and autumn meetings, and prizes consisting of the Captain's, Artists', Wellroth, Hunter, and Mossop cups. (fn. 6)

Within 3 miles of the Ashford links is the Staines Golf Club, instituted in 1890. The course, of nine holes, is on Shortwood Common.

Ladies' Clubs

There are fourteen (fn. 7) ladies' golf clubs in Middlesex, three of which—the Enfield and Stanmore Clubs, in the county, and the West Middlesex, amongst London clubs—were founded in 1893. Of the remainder two— the Ashford Manor Club and the Middlesex County Ladies' Club, the latter of which has no links of its own—are county, and the following nine are London clubs: the Muswell Hill Club, instituted in 1894; the Ealing and Hampstead Clubs, instituted in 1895; the Acton and Wembley Clubs, instituted in 1896; the West Drayton and Hanger Hill Clubs, instituted in 1900; and the Fulwell and Highgate Clubs, instituted in 1904. Of these the Stanmore, West Middlesex, Hanger Hill, (fn. 8) and Fulwell Clubs have separate courses for ladies, those of the first-named three clubs being of nine holes, while that of the Fulwell Club is an eighteen-hole one 5,000 yds. in extent. The West Middlesex, Fulwell, and Acton Clubs have also separate clubhouses for ladies. The other clubs play over the same course as the men; but on the Ealing, Wembley, and West Drayton links the ladies play with shortened tees, and on those at Muswell Hill play only nine holes. The Acton, Ashford Manor, Enfield, Fulwell, Hampstead, Hanger Hill, and Highgate ladies' clubs are all branches of the men's clubs.

In addition to the various golf clubs above noticed, there are two other organizations in connexion with Middlesex golf which require a brief notice.

One of these is the Golfers' Club, Whitehall Court, established in 1893, which admits foreign and colonial as well as town and country members, and has a total membership of 1,000. A challenge shield and other prizes offered by the club are played for annually. The secretary is Col. W. F. Branston.

The other is the Professional Golfers' Association, instituted in 1901, of which the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P., is president, and Mr. C. E. Melville honorary secretary. A register is kept at the Association offices of situations vacant, and of those in need of employment; and provision is also made, through a benevolent fund, for relieving deserving members by temporary or permanent grants; assistance in cases of sickness, accident, death, and interments and for preventing the lapse of life, accident, or other policies; and for the grant of small annuities to the aged and incapacitated, and allowances to widows and orphans. A tournament for prizes presented by The News of the World is held annually; the winner and runner-up in the competition, held at Richmond in October 1908, were J. H. Taylor and F. Robson.

In concluding this brief notice of Middlesex golf the Editor is glad to take this opportunity of offering his very cordial thanks to the secretaries of the many clubs which have kindly supplied him with information on the subject.

Footnotes

  • 1. This is exclusive of ladies' clubs, of which there are in all twelve, two belonging to the county and twelve London clubs, as to which see post. Until 1907 the total number of clubs was fifty-two; but the Chiswick Golf Club, instituted in 1902, has now succumbed to the long threatened invasion of the builders; see Golfing Year Bk. 1905, p. 358, and 1907, p. 393.
  • 2. As, for example, the George Edwardes Society, founded in 1904, for members of the dramatic and musical professions, which plays by special arrangement at Ashford Manor.
  • 3. The 'county' clubs are:—Ashford Manor, Edgware, Enfield, Bush Hill Park (Enfield), Clayesmore School (Enfield), Staines, Stanmore and Hillingdon (Uxbridge); and the London clubs owning links are Acton, Ealing, Finchley, Fulwell, Hampste. Hanger Hill (Ealing), Hendon, Highgate, Muswell Hill, Neasden, North Middlesex, Northwood, St. Quintin, Strawberry Hill, Wembley, West Drayton, West Middlesex, and Home Park (Hampton Court).
  • 4. A. J. Lawrie, in The Golfing Year Bk. 1907, p. 399.
  • 5. At a professional match on 5 May 1905, over the West Drayton course, the following records were made:—J. H. Taylor 75, H. Vardon 76, J. Braid 77, W. Thomson 78. In the afternoon, in a four-ball foursome, Vardon and Taylor beat Braid and White by 4 up and 3 to play. Individual scores: Taylor 73, Vardon 75, Braid 75, White 81; The Golfing Year Book, 1905, p. 476.
  • 6. Ashford Manor won the Middlesex Golf Challenge Trophy on 8 July 1905; The Golfing Year Book, 1906, p. 67.
  • 7. The Neasden Golf Club permits the election of a limited number of ladies as associates, who may play every day except Saturday and Sunday, and for whom separate rooms are assigned in the club-house.
  • 8. The Hanger Hill Ladies' Club has, however, also the right to play over the men's course on every day except Saturday and Sunday.