Hindhead Golf Club
The founding fathers of 'The Hindhead Golf Club' were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward Turle, owner of Hindhead School, and other local luminaries. Hindhead, being 750 feet above sea level was called ‘Little Switzerland’ for its clean air, and 143 acres were leased from Lord Ashcombe. Turle was Secretary 1904-1922 and President 1923-25 and 1928-30.
Under the leadership of Ingham-Whitaker, Squire of Grayshott, a 1-acre plot was bought for £200 and the development of the clubhouse began. The course was laid out under the eye of J.H.Taylor (an Open Champion) for a fee of £4 10s, with Turle and his pupils doing much of the groundwork. An initial 12 holes were opened and membership subscription was set at two guineas.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was the Club's first President 1905-07 (shown teeing off in 1907). The 18 holes were opened with a match between two of the great Triumvirate, James Braid and J.H.Taylor, that Braid won. Cows grazed on the course and damage was common. Conan Doyle later encouraged David Lloyd George to move to Hindhead in 1921.
The first build phase of the Golf House cost £1,450 with a mortgage from Cubitt Estates, and Percy Smith, a founder member, advanced a loan to complete it. Pictured is George Pownall, the longest serving Professional 1905-35, teeing off the 1st.
The architect's original design was completed and, with donations from its 132 members, the Club paid its way. Members’ generosity has continued throughout the club’s history. The car pictured is a 15HP Daracq owned by a member.
The Club issues 236 £10 loan debenture notes at 4% interest, repayable by 1946. Interesting timing as 1912 saw the Titanic disaster, which triggered class reforms, and in the following years the Great War 1914-18, the Wall Street crash of 1929 and World War II 1939-45.
Canadian Forces were stationed at Bramshott with our own troops. They were given temporary membership for a guinea with half back if sent to the front. This tradition resumed in 1939-45 when they played for free. In 1919 they presented the Canada Cup to the club for the annual match play competition. In the same year the Village ‘Artisan’ Club was formed with a subscription of 5 shillings.
David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22, bought a 60-acre estate at Churt close by and built a house ‘Bron y De’. Churchill was so impressed with the entrance porch that he commissioned the architect to do the same at Chartwell. Lloyd George, elected an Honorary Life Member in 1922, was renowned for his fast pace of play. A man with quick feet to match his quick mind.
The loan debt to Percy Smith continued, the above showing annual interest of £118 for 1928, including £23 12s for tax. The mortgage loan from Cubitt Estates remained in place until the freehold was acquired in 1946. In 1951 the hugely wealthy member, R.C.Betts, took on a £3,466 club mortgage, waiving the interest, and his legacy in 1965 freed the club from almost all its debts leaving just £3,150.
Costing 100 guineas in 1928 The Devil’s Punch Bowl took its name from a famous local beauty spot. Winners of this Open Scratch Meeting include Justin Rose in 1995. The cartoon depicts eminent members, including the bearded, pipe-smoking W.E. Muir (President) who gifted the secretary’s house, Golf Lodge, along with George Pownall (lower right) the Club Professional since 1905.
The Ladies’ Open Meeting: Miss Diana Fishwick aged 19, the 1930 British Amateur Champion from Foreland, with playing partner, Mrs.Barrington-Ward, a Club Member. Diana became Mrs.Critchley and her son, Bruce, was a Walker Cup player and then golf commentator. Diana played Curtis Cup 1932 & 1934 and was Captain in 1950. Ladies' golf plays a big part in the success of Hindhead.
James Braid played Sandy Herd. Many other Open Champions played here: Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, A H Padgham, R A Whitcombe and Max Faulkner. Dai Rees, who won the World Matchplay four times and led the Ryder Cup team to victory in 1957, was Club Professional from 1936-47. By the end of his career Dai Rees was second only in tournament wins to Henry Cotton.
Post-war rationing and petrol shortages badly affected income and there was talk of the Club having to close. The above shows full subscriptions at £10 10s. In 51 years it had increased 5-fold yet over the next 57 years it would increase 143-fold. The worst was over and P.M. Harold MacMillan famously stated “most of our people have never had it so good”. The 1960’s brought prosperity and membership grew.
The Great Storm brought chaos. But there was a silver lining as hundreds of encroaching trees were lost. After the millennium a heathland project was initiated. Bands of trees were removed bringing more light to playing areas and encouraging heather in the new spaces. From 2010 there has been a drive to improve the course and a golf architect's plan for development has been approved and is being implemented.
Colonel Tony Duncan OBE (1914-1997) came to Hindhead as a giant of amateur golf from a formidable Welsh golfing family that won the Welsh Championship 14 times; he won 4. He had an army career of distinction and served in the Normandy campaign. He was member of the R&A from 1948, Captain of the 1953 Walker Cup team, and Club President 1988-94. He had a love for the game and was one of the club’s most distinguished Members.
Hindhead was made an Open Championship Regional Qualifying venue for 2000-05. Notwithstanding the efforts of numerous professionals and top amateurs during this time, the course record remained intact. The quality of the course and its renowned greens continues to attract competitive scratch and plus handicap golfers who have won prestigious events, some as county players.
This was Hindhead’s Centenary Year and was marked by a host of special events: a Summer Ball was held in a large marquee when everyone danced the night away: the Conan Doyle Invitation was initiated: Men’s and Ladies’ Centenary Competitions, cocktail parties and social events - the list goes on. The ladies triumphed in particular by making an amazing 100-year cake (pictured).
Peter Allis opens the refurbished clubhouse with the late and highly respected Dick Hartley, then President. Peter is an Honorary Life Member and often mentions the Club on TV. His humorous observations at AGM’s make us realise golf should be fun to play, but not slow. In 2014 the lounge was renamed Alliss’ Bar and pictures there showcase his great career as a golfer and the 'Voice of Golf'.