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The intimate history of Romiley Golf Club began in 1897 and commenced life as the Woodley and Romiley Golf Club. It had demanded the same experiences common to most of the clubs near large towns and much tact and determination were needed in order that the game could be played in anything like reasonable conditions.
The district was little more than a group of hamlets - Greavefold, Barlowfold, Goosehouse Green, Lane Ends, Butterhouse Green, Hatherlow, Harrytown, Crossmoor (centre of Romiley) with a total population of 6,000. Goosehouse Green was at one time an “Extra Parochial Place”, an island in the middle of the parish, without the right to attend the Parish Church and more importantly not under any obligation to pay rates.
The Club though heavily in debt, owing to the money wasted upon Salters Lane Course decided to build a pavilion. A circular letter dated 8th December 1898 asked members for special subscriptions, which subscription included the right of a member to make his wife a subscriber. £214 was subscribed, and in April 1899, the Pavilion was opened.
< Clubhouse 1899
The Club was instituted at a meeting held on the 29th July 1897, when Mr. J E Lees, of Birch Vale House was appointed Captain, Mr. C E Redfern, Treasurer and Mr. L Conrad Hartley, Secretary. The members numbered 70 gentlemen and 30 ladies. Scarcely any of the ladies played and comparatively few gentlemen and an entry of 12 for a medal competition was remarkable.
The first ground, rented from several tenant farmers, was an area of 31.5 acres, lying to the north of Salters Lane, (now Werneth Road) to Mock Beggars Farm (now Hillside) and the footpath leading to Werneth Low. Players had a severe climb up the side of Werneth Low.
It wasn't too long before they had disagreements with the animals roaming around which led to weekly rows with the farmers, and of course the members found the steep slope of the course unsuitable for golf.
In less than a year the Club moved to a new piece of relatively flat ground behind Goosehouse Green, off Barlow Fold Road, Romiley. Mr. J E Lees, a Solicitor, had played golf before moving to Romiley in 1882. He had joined the original club and became the first Captain of the club.John E Lees, whilst Captain of the Club, visited “The Open Championship” at Prestwick in 1898, Harry Vardon won his first of three Open Championships. John Lees had the opportunity to ask Harry Vardon to recommend a young professional to join Woodley and Romiley Golf Club as professional and he recommended a young Jersey "up and coming" golfer Thomas Helier Beck, in 1900. (just 17 years old.)
Tom Beck stayed at the club for only two years when he went to join his brother Fred as his assistant at Filey Golf Club. Following which in 1921 he left England to make his name in the USA, and then lost all his money in America in the Wall Street Crash. He came back to England penniless. Walter Hambleton followed Tom Beck as professional and remained until 1908.
1920, the Clubhouse was extended to provide a room large enough to hold whist drives, smoking concerts and to accommodate a billiard table.
< Clubhouse 1920
In 1908 Woodley and Romiley Golf Club changed its name to Romiley Golf Club.
Again the club looked to Harry Vardon to recommend a new professional and again he chose a Channel Islander, Charles Le Chevalier, who designed and constructed a 9 hole course at Goosehouse Green. Romiley.
When Charles came to Romiley he brought his family, his wife, his 6 year old son Charles jnr. baby Albert and shortly afterwards Adelina, their daughter, was born. Both boys became professionals, Charles jnr. holds the record for the number of "holes in one" by a British professional, a total of 31. Brother Albert, became professional of Romiley Golf Club from 1963 to 1977.
On the 28th November 1899, it was decided that the ladies should form their own Committee to arrange competitions for the Lady Subscribers.
In 1905 Ladies became members of the club, the original “Subscribers” being wives of members. The Ladies section now had the right to admit any lady for membership, as very few wives had joined.
The original course had been rather crude in its construction, having only tees and greens, some of which were only mown areas, the fairways cropped by the sheep where ever they chose to graze. The vogue for greater playing length, coupled with the marked improvement in the design and manufacture of the golf ball, made it necessary to lengthen the course from time to time. It became imperative that further land should be obtained to construct a well planned course, correctly laid out.
More land was leased and the new course was designed and constructed. Charles Le Chevalier, as Professional and Greenkeeper, was responsible for approving the final layout and construction of the 1909 course. The new course was an immense improvement and it was felt by all that Romiley was at last a course of which to be proud.
1950, extension to Clubhouse to provide a new kitchen, improve the bar facilities and space for both a ladies lounge and locker room.
< Clubhouse 1950
A great deal of money was spent upon the drainage of the course, the making of bunkers, the cultivation and trimming of the natural hazards, and the up-rooting of hedges that almost invariably proved to be in the wrong place. These days it is not possible to fully appreciate the work and effort required to construct a course without modern machinery to assist.
The new 9 hole course was opened by the Captain Elect, Dr Blades, in July 1909. In 1914 a 21 year lease was agreed on field 124 as was the lease for two further Hudson fields, (an area covered by the present 3rd and 8th fairways.)
The war had commenced and the proposed extension to the 9 hole course to embrace field 124 had to be postponed. Field 124 and the Hudson fields were let for grazing. Irving’s sheep continued to eat the grass away on the course whilst Farmer Swindles grazed cattle on the present 3rd fairway and Farmer Constable ploughed the present 8th for growing oats.
The office of President of the Club was first held in 1916 by Harry Entwisle and he remained President until 1927. He had also been Chairman of Directors from 1918 until 1924, and was also Honorary Secretary of the Club from 1906 until 1908.
It was in 1924 that Harry Entwisle presented the Club with “The Bogey Challenge Cup”, (the year his wife became Lady Captain). Played for each year, it is now known as the “Entwisle Cup” the prizes are paid in part from a trust fund set up by the executors of Mrs Thomas Carter Beeley ( Miss Hilda Entwisle, Harry’s daughter).
Following the departure of Charles Le Chevalier in 1921 the Club engaged Gordon Good, a Scottish international, who remained with the Club for 38 years. Gordon was a good Club Professional as well as a professional golfer. Such was the quality of Gordon’s golf, whilst at Romiley, he was selected and played for Scotland against England in 1934, 35 and 1936, winning on each occasion. He won many competitions and finished 19th in the 1936 Open, staged at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), won by Alf Padgham of Sundridge Park. In July 1931 Gordon Good shot 67 against a bogey for the course of 74, to hold the course record for a Professional at Romiley.
The clubhouse extension in 1950, providing the Ladies’ section with their lounge and locker room, had been built in brick as opposed to the remainder of the clubhouse being of wooden construction.The new scheme in 1963 was to develop the clubhouse in stages, the first was the middle section, with a large lounge and the ground floor as a dining area.
< Clubhouse 1950
In 1923 Romiley was to take its most monumental step to secure its future as a golf club in its permanent home. The lease on the land on which the Clubhouse was situated was expiring, coupled with the offer from Capt. Hudson for the purchase of a cottage and garden.
The cottage was where Charles Le Chevalier lived and his garden covered the area now occupied by the rear car park, the entrance to the Clubhouse being an 18 foot strip of land which is now the exit from the Club.
On the 3rd July 1923 the agreement for the purchase of the area, including the Cottage, was completed at a cost of £300, to be followed by the purchase of field 124 from Mr John Stafford Hepworth, a manufacturing horticultural chemist from Loughborough, at a cost of £1,040.
In 1924 Captain Hudson made an offer to the Club for the lease of sufficient land to enable the present 9 holes to be extended to 18. The Club then embarked on a detailed study of eight 18 hole courses in the Manchester District and the relative expenditure and cost of upkeep.
Tom Renouf, English International and Golf Course Architect, was engaged to survey the proposed new land. He considered that the land was very suitable and that an additional nine holes could be constructed at a possible cost of £1,200.
The report of Tom Renouf as to the suitability of the land and his estimated cost was discussed and the council agreed that the scheme be adopted. Conways Ltd. Golf Course Constructors, were given the task of constructing the additional holes and altering some of the then present holes, according to Tom Renouf’s design, at a cost of £1,630.
The Course was completed and opened Saturday 2nd October 1926 by the Captain, P H Lang and President of the Club, Harry Entwisle.Contained in the 21 year lease for the course from the Hudson Estate, dated 24th March 1926, a clause gave the Club the right to purchase the 97 acre 2 rood 12 perches or thereabouts at a fixed price of £60 per acre if taken up within the first 3 years, or if within the first 5 years - £62.10.0d per acre, or if within the first 10 years - £65 per acre. If however the period exceeded 10 years the Hudson Estate would appoint a Surveyor to value the land. Six months notice had to be given of intention to purchase.
The extension completed in 1970 enlarged the men’s locker room, the billiard table now on the first floor, a new card room and facilities for the Secretary’s office and Professional’s shop.
< Clubhouse 1970
It was therefore in the Club’s interest to exercise the right to purchase within the 10 year period.
On 24th June 1933, the land was purchased.
During the 1939-1945 war the course was reduced to 15 holes, the present 3rd,4th and 8th being closed to alow cows to graze. The full course was opened in 1949.
The Golden Jubilee in July 1947 was celebrated by a special Sunday Mixed Competition. The entry fees from the competition raised the sum of £60 towards “a lasting feature”, so that present and future members would be reminded of the club’s achievement.
The Captain, Harry Hindley, had in mind a Jubilee Spinney of fifty peach and almond trees, behind the 14th green, in full view of the clubhouse. The council did not support this scheme and the money was never spent.
In 1995 a complete refurbishment of the clubhouse was completed in good time for the Centenary Year Celebrations in 1997.
< Clubhouse 1995
With regard to the Diamond Jubilee , how better to celebrate a golf club milestone than by playing the game for which it was founded 60 years previously. Accordingly competitions were started on the Friday evening and continued on Saturday and Sunday, the prizes being presented at the close of each session by the Captain, Mr P A Davenport.
The weather was somewhat mixed but members’ enthusiasm was unrestrained. Professional entertainment and a dance in the clubhouse were pleasant variations on the theme on Saturday Evening.