The early years 1901-1920

The new clubhouse cost  £248. It was formally opened on 3 April 1902 by Ald. Hole JP in the presence of a large gathering including ladies. He congratulated the committee on the very successful start the club had made and on having acquired such an excellent site. After the opening ceremony, tea was provided and an exhibition foursomes was played between Mr Corballis (6) and H Williamson (Club Professional) who beat Stuart MacRae (Scr) and Mr Wigram by 3 and 1. The Newark Ladies Team - Winners of the 1903 Midlands Championship

In the same month of April 1902, the Newark Advertiser reported that attendance had increased to such an extent that "one was lucky to have a clear course in front." Indeed there had been complaints 'that some members, even when they are aware of a party following, make no attempt to keep a reasonable distance ahead, but leisurely walk along as though they were the only occupants of the course.' The newspaper's correspondent added: "I am quite aware it is unpleasant to be 'pressed' but if a golfer is not prepared to walk at a pace which suggests mild exercise, and not indifference, it surely would be better to allow those behind to pass through."

Social membership was introduced in 1902 on payment of a subscription of 5/- (25p) and on 21 June 1902 the first inter-club match on the Hawton links was played against Mansfield - later to become Sherwood Forest. The Newark team, captained by Stuart MacRae, won all their matches. The turf on the greens was described as being in excellent condition but the length of the grass in the immediate vicinity made the approach shots very difficult. Because of the heavy initial expenses, there was apparently not enough money left to cover the cost of cutting the grass!

The club's income in its first year was £173 and the expenditure £184. There were concerns both about the finances and the need to improve the condition of the course. "The committee feel a delicacy in inviting other clubs to play matches until the links compare more favourably with those which have had a longer existence. Those of our members who have visited other courses, and know the delights of playing on them, are anxious to see various improvements effected."

At the 1902 AGM a proposal was put forward to increase the subscription but this had to be withdrawn on the point of order that no proper notice had been given. Instead, efforts were made to increase the membership and members were requested to contribute £1 each towards the costs of building the clubhouse. The response was disappointing but membership increased rapidly and reached 195 by the beginning of 1903.

There were complaints then that the clubhouse was becoming overcrowded 'at the after­noon tea hour', and was likely to become more so with the coming of spring weather. 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. In August 1903 an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Club was held at the Town Hall to consider a proposition to increase the subscriptions. Mr Corballis (Honorary Secretary) explained that in order to make the course a suitable one to play on, it would be necessary to spend money on it - "to cut the grass and make bunkers and in other respects make it a prop­er course."

He added: "They would all admit that up to then they had played under extremely incon­venient conditions. The grass for part of the summer had been so long that most of them had suffered by losing a large number of balls, and it had been an extremely difficult thing to play the game properly."

Mr Corballis told the meeting that their landlord Mr Abraham wished to increase the rent from £25 to £50 but as part of a new agree­ment would cut the grass all the year round and make bunkers. However, the bad news was that he wished to reserve the right of grazing sheep all the year and cattle from May to August inclusive. Nevertheless, the meeting accepted these terms and voted unanimously to increase the annual subscrip­tion to £l.lls.6d (£1.57p) for gentlemen and 15/- (75p) for ladies with an entrance fee of one guinea (£1.05p) for gentlemen and half a guinea for ladies.

The following monthTom Williamson the professional at Golf Club was invited to inspect the course  and he suggested alterations and improvements including new greens and properly con­structed bunkers, in place of what one member called "those wretched gorse-filled hurdles."

One result of these changes was to increase the length of the course by 440 yards to 2600. The card of the enlarged course was as follows. Hole No.l length 350 yards, No.2 340, No.3 430, No.4 140, No.S 250, No.6 240, No.7 440, No.8 170, and No.9 240.

At the AGM in October 1903, Williamson was complimented on the excellent course he had laid out and which when completed 'would make Newark one of the best 9 hole courses in the Midlands.' Extra labour was employed and considerable attention was given to the greens. By the end of 1903 the new course was already claimed to be the subject of flattering remarks. A stable and a cart shed were built and a horse mower purchased. Lastly, but not least in importance, an animal popularly known to members as 'Niblick' appeared to pull the mower. He faithfully performed his duties until they ended tragically in the River Devon!

Finance continued to be something of a problem. By 1903 income had increased to £305 but expenditure rose to £379. The income included Entry Fees £24, Subscriptions £210, lock­er rents £36 and Visitors' fees £17. The principal items of expenditure were rent £50, wages £155, Secretary/Treasurer £20, purchases etc £84, shed £16 and lockers £12. Notts Golf Club had a total income of £1072 for that year which helps to put Newark's figures in context. Notts was, of course, an 18 hole course.

Newark joined the Notts Golf Union in 1904 and with the prospect of a County visit by 1906,  special efforts were made to ensure that the course would be as attractive as possible.
It is interesting to note that by 1906 there were still only four clubs affiliated to the Notts Golf Union - Notts, Newark, Bulwell Forest and Bulwell Artisans.

Both the national and provincial press reported the following unusual occurence in May 1907.  A Newark member, Mr Beevor, when playing to the 4th green hit his ball into the River Devon. On going to recover it he found it lying beside a 21b trout. This fish plainly bore the signs of its injury and was quickly despatched. The incident was reported under a headline 'A Fishy Story 'and is recorded in the current and earlier editions of the R & A Golfer's Yearly Handbook.

By 1908, fortunes had obviously improved because the clubhouse was then altered to pro­vide more and better accommodation. The gentlemen's locker room was considerably enlarged to meet the requirements of a growing membership and what was described as 'a commodious smoke room' was built at the end of the building. The verandah was extended and was now accessed by a French window. A great deal of the work was done by members and Mr R B Cafferata in particular was thanked for his assistance. The year 1908 also saw the first reference to a match against Seacroft. The match programme for that year included the following fixtures:

Belton Park (home & away); Chilwell Manor (home & away); Bulwell Forest (home & away); Serlby (away); Woodhall (away); Seacroft (away). Newark won 5 of these 9 matches. The Match Secretary at this time was Ed Harker. (The Club still has the Gold Medal he was given as a memento for winning the Coronation Cup in 1904.)

The following is a newspaper report of the match against Seacroft played in 1912: "On Monday July 8, the annual match at Skegness was played on the Seacroft links. This is a very severe course for those not acquainted with the geography thereof as most of the Newark men found to their cost. A heavy thunderstorm in the early stages of the match stopped proceedings and drove players into shelters (with which the course is well supplied) but after about 20 min­utes the weather improved and the match was finished under the best conditions. The Newark team only won one match out of nine but it was some little consolation to know that the best man in the Seacroft team was defeated."

A week earlier Newark had visited Woodhall Spa where they won by 6 "2 matches to 4 "2. The press report on that match referred to the fact that the Spa links had recently been improved and that "when the alterations etc are completed, they will be one of the finest inland courses in the country". How accurate that prediction proved to be!

The busy fixture programme continued for the next couple of years. We have an amusing report that the match against Woodhall Spa at Newark in June 1913 was delayed by a general strike of caddies (for higher pay and free meals) but when the players were seen to shoulder their own clubs the strike quickly fizzled out 'thus thwarting the ends of some juvenile agita­tors' first venture.' The strike lasted for 3'2 minutes!

World War I (1914-1918) brought a temporary halt to most of the golfing activities and, of course, it ended so very many young lives. We have little information about the club in those years but we know from the Notts Golf Union records that membership fell from 150 in 1914 to 75 in 1915. This was the experience of all golf clubs. Notts GC, for example, fell from 350 to 175. Many members (and greenstaff) left to serve in the war or in some capacity in the war effort. It was customary during these years for golf clubs to offer honorary membership to offi­cers and men stationed in the vicinity.

Following the end of the war in 1918 great efforts were made at Newark to make up for lost time and repair the deterioration which had occurred. During the winter of 1919/20 the club­house was refurbished and extended at a cost of £500 which was a lot of money at a time when the gentleman's subscription was only £3. The improvements included a new larger locker room for the men with hot and cold water and upwards of 100 lockers. The old tea room became a gen­tlemen's smoking room and the ladies and gentlemen's locker rooms were converted into one large room to be used as a mixed lounge. 

There was also a sitting room for the ladies and improvements to the steward's room and the profession­al shop. There is no reference to what was provided for the ladies to replace their lost locker room!

The press report of the AGM held in November 1919 mentions that the club was seriously handi­capped during the war years for

want of labour. The report goes on to say that Newark had been successful in securing the ser­vices of F Frow as professional who, since his arrival a few months earlier, had made a marked improvement in the course. In the following few months, the course was considerably altered due to the efforts of Frow and the 5 men temporarily working under him. A war on worms was declared and millions were killed off 'by means of a special treatment.' 

Soon the greens were said to be in excellent condition and Quibell Bros were thanked for their gift of bone dust and Mr Cherry Downes for kiln dust for use as fertilisers.

What about the ladies during these early years? None attended the inaugural meeting at the Town Hall in 1901 most probably because none were invited! When the gentlemen held a meeting in July 1901 to elect the officers for the newly formed club, the Rev J F Ross asked whether they ought to have 'a lady or two on the committee.' The answer he received was that if enough ladies joined they could have their own club and elect their own officers!

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.

They agreed to have a monthly Medal competition on the second Tuesday of each month beginning on 13 January 1903 and to arrange other competitions. It is interesting to note that Tuesday as Ladies Day dates back to the very beginning.

At the start of the first year the best Lady golfer was very probably Mrs C F Richardson who had a handicap of 1 and was later selected to play for England. She was soon to be joined in the Club by an even more talented golfer about whom we shall say more in the next chap­ter.

By the Spring of 1903, the ladies already had a busy programme. During one week in April, they held their Tuesday Medal, a match-play competition on the Wednesday, 'an approaching and putting' competition on Friday morning followed in the afternoon by mixed foursomes played for a sweepstake. This was won by Miss Corballis and Stuart MacRae.

The Ladies Spring Meeting in 1904 was held over two days. The weather was fine and so many ladies entered that at times the clubhouse became overcrowded. The Advertiser described the conclusion of the meeting as follows: 'In the evening when the company dis­persed in motor cars, bicycles and other means of conveyance, the vicinity of the clubhouse presented an animated scene.'

In 1910 Newark member the Hon Mrs Jervis won the inaugural Lincolnshire Ladies Championship and won it again in 1914. Mrs MacRae won it in 1912.

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. 

We say this because in the beginning of 1920 the ladies called a meeting 'to form a Ladies Club.' They elected Mrs MacRae as President and Mrs Drabble as Secretary. The members of the new committee were Mrs Abraham, Mrs Hunter, Mrs Arthur Quibell, Miss Mumby, Miss Vincent and Miss Milne. The ladies were asked to take out 3 cards for handicap purposes before the middle of March 1920 and arrangements were made for competitions including the Marris Hunt Cup.

F F Corballis: We must not leave this period of the club's history without saying something about Fredrick F Corballis. He was the club's first honorary secretary and its second captain. He left Newark just four years after the club was founded but before he left he was present­ed with a silver salver in recognition of the services he had rendered to the club. In making the presentation, Marris Hunt, the club Captain said that Mr Corballis had 'the honour of being the pioneer in establishing the club - it was he who had called a Town's meeting.' He said he hoped that whenever Mr Corballis looked at the salver it would remind him of 'his short but useful stay in Newark.'

We found no subsequent reference to Mr Corballis. He seemed to have just disappeared into the mists of time. We were curious to know a little bit more about him. Why had he come to Newark and where had he gone afterwards? All we had to go on was that his surname is not common and the fact that he had said he was Irish. We picked out one name from the Irish telephone directory, Timothy Corballis who lives in County Tipperary, and struck lucky first time.

When we explained the reason for the call, his response was "Yes, that would be great uncle Freddie." He told us that Freddie Corballis was born in 1869 and came to Newark in 1900 as manager of Holes Brewery. He moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1905 to become a manager of a brewery there but subsequently became a partner in a firm of stockbrokers in that city. He served as Chairman of the Belgian Refugee Committee during the First World War and he was a County Commissioner of Boy Scouts from 1916 until 1924. He died in 1934.