Newark Golf Club - 100 Years History (1901-2001)
How it all began.... A Souvenir hand book of Newark Golf Club published in 1921 credits Mr Stuart MacRae (pictured left) with having introduced golf to Newark in about 1890. Mr MacRae, together with about a dozen fellow enthusiasts including Dr Ringrose (a fellow Scot) and Mr E H Nicholson, laid out 6 holes on the Sconce Hills elevated earthworks in a field on the Farndon Road near the river Devon.
They played golf there for about 5 years until 1896 when the Council acquired this land and they has to look for a new site suitable for golf. They found it between Newark and Hawton. This site was part of land farmed by a Mr Abraham who held it under lease from a Mr Holden. A small clubhouse was erected and "for a number of years a few members enjoyed a game of golf under rather trying circumstances!".
The following information is given in the Golfing Annual for 1896-97:
Newark Golf Club founded 1896. A 6 hole course one mile from the station. The holes vary in length from 124 to 300 yards and there are numerous hazards. The green record is 30 by E Ringrose against a par of 22.
By 1900, interest in golf was growing. Grantham already had two golf courses. Mindful of this and the fact that it was obviously an additional attraction for a town to have a golf course, a move began to see if one could be formed in Newark. Mr F Corballis was credited on a number of occasions with being the driving force behind this. Stuart MacRae himself is on record as saying that had it not been for Mr Corballis, Newark would probably not have had a golf course.
The Newark Advertiser in April 1901, had a column devoted to the "Proposed Newark Golf Club/Links near the Town.
At a general meeting on 14th November 1901, Mr Corballis reported that the club now had 148 ordinary members, 96 gentlemen and 52 ladies. Plans were adopted to build a new clubhouse, and this was formally opened 3rd April 1902 by Ald. Hole JP.
The early years 1901 - 1920: The club's income in its first year was £173 and expenditure £184. There were concerns both about the finances and the need to improve the condition of the course. Membership increased rapidly and reached 195 by the beginning of 1903. There were concerns that the clubhouse was becoming overcrowded 'at the afternoon tea hour', and there were also concerns about wear and tear of the course as there seemed no prospect of the greens having a rest..... They couldn't have been too bad because Hugh Williamson, the club Professional, set a course record in December 1902 with a gross score of 33 for the nine holes.
Tom Williamson, the professional at Notts Golf Club (brother of Hugh) suggested alterations and improvements, including new greens and properly constructed bunkers.
One result of these changes was to increase the length of the course by 440 yards to 2600. Williamson was complimented on the excellent course he has laid out and which when completed 'would make Newark one of the best 9 hole courses in the Midlands'. Newark Golf Club joined the Notts Golf Union in 1904, and it is interesting to note that by 1906 there were still only four clubs affiliated to the Notts Golf Union.
What about the ladies during the early years? None attended the inaugural meeting in 1901 most probably because none were invited. It was not until November 1902 that the ladies met to form their own committee. Mrs MacRae was elected as their first Captain and Miss Abraham as Secretary. By the spring of 1903, the ladies already had a busy programme. (pictured left - winners of the 1903 Midlands Championship).
In 1910 Newark member the Hon Mrs Jervis won the inaugural Lincolnshire Ladies Championship and won it again in 1914. Mrs MacRae won it in1912.
Sadly as with the gentlemen's activities, the First World War brought things very much to a halt. We have little or no information about the years 1914 - 1919 but it certainly appears that the Ladies Committee was disbanded for a time.
The nine hole course at Hawton covered just under 40 acres held under lease which in 1920 had only seven years to run. However, the landlord offered to sell the land to the club and at a special meeting of the members in june 1920 the committee was authorised to buy it for £1800. At the same meeting, a resolution was passed that the committee should set up a limited liability company with authorised capital not exceeding £3000, divided into ordinary shares of £1 to be taken up by members. The company was formed on 23rd september 1920 1920, and the board met for the first time on 28th September 1920.
F.Frow had been engaged by the club as Professional/Greenkeeper in 1919. He had previously been an assistant at Torksey and had then gone to Gainsborough as professional before coming to Newark. He was described as a first class player and a splendid coach. He took great interest in the course and board minutes refer to his 'indefatigable work'. He remained with the club until 1927. He then went to Worksop and was still there in 1939 when World War II started.
1921-1940: Although a large number of competitions were held, only five Challenge Cups were competed for at the beginning of the 1920's. In the spring, the Victory Cup which, as now, was open to both ladies and gentlemen. In the summer, the Howitt Cup and the Coronation Cup and (for ladies) the Marris Hunt Cup and the Chappell Cup were competed for.
In the early 1930's there was still no telephone in the clubhouse, but plant to generate electricity was installed in 1931 by A V Tully. Also in 1931 the clubhouse roof was re-covered with grey asbestos corrugated sheets, and it was also decided that the clubhouse should be painted, the work to be done by the Professional and his staff when they had time available.
Newark Golf Club's new 18 hole course was formally opened on Tuesday 2nd April 1935 by the Mayor (Coun. P J C Staniland) in the presence of a large number of members. Immediately afterwards the Club Captain ( R A Hambling) drove the first ball from the first tee.
The Newark Advertiser reported that the ceremony marked the culminating point of seven months hard work and careful planning and congratulated Tom Williamson on the way he had successfully managed to blend the natural beauty of the site with efficiency from the playing point of view.
Ball manufacturers Dunlop confirmed that the 65 ball used by the Captain on the opening day will be mounted and inscribed.
On 13th April 1935, an exhibition match was played by Tom Williamson and Miss Enid Wilson, one of the first lady Professionals. Miss Wilson was also one of the world's greatest golfers and had been taught by Tom Williamson from the age of 14. She won the British Girls Championship in 1925, and played Internationals for Great Britain against the USA from 1928 to 1931. She won the the British Ladies Championship for four consecutive years. In 1932 she introduced Enid Wilson Irons and, in consequence, was later deem to be a professional.
In 1937 Enos Smith, who had been President for 10 years, retired and Harold Mumby was elected to succeed him. One of his early initiatives was to try and build up the membership by encouraging young people between the ages of 21 to 25 to join. They were offered a very reduced subscription which they could pay in small installments. By 1939, the financial position of the club had improved, and all is all, everything might seem to have augured well for the future. This was not the case. The storm clouds were gathering and throughout the summer of 1939 there was a real feeling of unease and inevitability that Britain would soon be at war.
The war years were difficult for the club and members who lived during those years will know how difficult life was in wartime Britain. In 1940, there was, of course, the very real threat of a German invasion.
1941-1960: The war in Europe ended in May 1945, initially there was a tremendous sense of euphoria and optimism in the country after almost six extremely difficult years. We will now look at some of the happenings, difficulties and aspects of club life during 1945 - 1960.
Members were dissatisfied with the slow progress and general state of the course. As late as 1949 Harold Whistler even suggested that it might be preferable to settle for nine holes in good condition than 18 in bad. In 1952 members were told that the club could not continue running at a loss and that measures would have to be adopted to put it on a sound footing. A visiting golf professional named Smith used to come to Newark to give lessons but in 1953 he wrote saying that he no longer found it a paying proposition. In 1955 it was agreed to get rid of the grazing sheep and wire fences. A fire broke out on a Sunday in March 1956. In 1958 severe rain resulted in Captain's Day being called off.
The year 1960 began promisingly. The club was asked for the very first time to host a meeting of the Notts Amateur and Professional Alliance. The board has always had ambitions to improve the facilities, and due to the general upsurge in the popularity of golf the hopes and plans suddenly became a not to distant possibilities.
A proper water supply to the greens, improvements to the condition and layout of the course, more green staff, more and better machinery, living accommodation for the Steward, a full time Golf Professional (with shop), a full time Secretary (with office), better practice facilities, a properly surfaced driveway and car park. All these were to come about in the space of just 20 years. Certainly, they could not have been archived but for the extra revenue from the rapidly increasing membership. Equally a larger membership to some extent forced the pace of change.
Towards prosperity 1961-2000: By the beginning of 1962 membership had increased to 255 (men 196 ladies 59). then in less than a year it jumped to 366 and by 1964 had reached 386. A decision was then made to set a limit of 400. This was raised from time to time because of the need for more money to carry through the various improvements. For example, 48 new members were elected as from 1st January 1971, and in April 1974 no less than 52 applicants were accepted. strict waiting list was introduced in 1975.
In 1977 work started on altering the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth greens and the first, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth tees. Some tees were resited and nearly all were enlarged substantially. A number of greens were lifted and resited but with a better and more contoured construction. All the new tees and greens were in play by the start of the 1979 season.
In March 1974 Malcolm Lambert was appointed as full-time Golf Professional, but misfortune struck in 1977 when fire destroyed his shop and the Secretary's Office. It's an ill wind because the opportunity was taken in the rebuilding to make the Pro shop bigger. In 1981, the 2nd and 13th greens were lifted, re-designed and returfed. In 1985 the course watering system was updated and now includes the tees.
Other improvements include dredging and enlarging the pond at the fourth. Better drainage on six of the fairways.
The period from 1980 has seen many staff changes. In 1980 alone every single member of the senior staff left. Wilf Cocking and Les Bakin retired full of years and honour, Malcolm Lambert decided to seek reinstatement as an amateur. George Hindson, the Steward, left in October to become the landlord of a public house in Newark. Thus this chapter of the club's history began with a whole new senior team... Ted Dowling (Secretary), Malcolm Grand (Head Greenkeeper), John Pearsall (Professional) and John White (Steward). In 1986 there were more changes, also in 1988, 1989, 1997 and 1999 Peter Snow took over as Secretary.
2001-Present: We now are coming to the end of 100 years of our history. The Centenary Year celebrations started on Sunday 18th March 2001with the raising of the Centenary Flag and the Captain's 'drive in'.
Press and TV attended to record this historic occasion. The customary Captain v Vice-Captain match was played followed by the customary hospitality.
On Friday 30th March 2001 the Golf Club held their Centenary Dinner; the guest speaker was Alex Hay, the well known BBC golf commentator.
The Past Captains of the Club purchased a centenary clock which was placed on the centre gable of the clubhouse. This brings to the end 100 years of the history of Newark Golf Club. If you would like to read more we have a book available covering the full history of Newark Golf Club 1901 - 2001;
written by Noel Maguire & John Davies.
Please contact The Secretary for more information.