here for a piece on Harry Vardon.
In 1889 the owners
of the Pump House Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, appointed Alexander Patrick of the
Royal Wimbledon Golf Club to lay out a nine-hole golf course over the common near
the lake for the entertainment of visitors to the Hotel and for the use of such
local people as might be interested in the game of golf.
was advertised in the Golfing Annual Vol IV, 1890, as being of 9 holes with no
crossing over moorland and with plenty of 'whins and sporting hazards'.
In 1905 the Town Council took over the common and as more and more visitors were
using the common the playing of golf there became increasingly dangerous and the
Pump House had to close their golf course. One of the leading golfers and a prominent
business man in the town at that time was Mr Tom Norton, a car and cycle dealer,
and a man who was to be to the forefront in the subsequent development of golf
in Mid-Wales. He had been an early member of St Giles Golf Club of Newtown, where
he had business interests. He was perhaps the first man in Llandrindod Wells to
recognise what an enormous attraction a first class 18 hole golf course would
be for the town; he enlisted the support of a few other like minds and looked
out for a suitable site for a brand new course and clubhouse convenient to the
town. They decided on a beautiful stretch of land to the east overlooking the
lake and town with magnificent views in all directions. Negotiations to obtain
this land, either by purchase or lease, were started and this is really where
the history of the Llandrindod Wells Golf Club begins.
On the 22nd May,
1905, in the office of Churchill and Co, Solicitors, of Llandrindod Wells, seven
gentlemen signed the Articles of Association to form the new Llandrindod Wells
Golf Club Company with a share capital of £l,500 in £1.00 shares, and appointed
Dr Bowen Davies of Brynarlais to be Chairman of the new Company. The seven signatories
to the Articles of Association were: Tom Norton, Motor Factor; W L Harper, Hotel
Keeper; R Wellings Thomas, Architect; W Ringrose Gore, Physician; C S Davies,
Medical Electrician; T Watson, Hotel Keeper; and John Griffiths, Physician.
Negotiations were started immediately by the Company, represented by Tom
Norton, to obtain by purchase or lease approximately 140 acres on Little Hill
above the town. Agreement was finally reached on 16th October, 1905 when five
of the Directors agreed to an Indenture guaranteeing the payment of rent by the
A start was made by clearing large areas of bracken on the
hill with the assistance of the tenant of the Hall Farm, who had the grazing rights
for sheep only. The Open Golf Champion, Harry Vardon, a prominent course designer,
was called in to design the layout of the new course.
Wells Golf Club - Official Opening Day, 18th May 1907
By 1906 the course was playable and the club's first match took place against
Newtown on the 21st May, Llandrindod winning by 41/2 matches
to 31/2. The course gradually took shape, using a horse
and cart and wheelbarrows to construct the new greens and tees. Four men were
employed to maintain the course using hand mowers to mow the fairways and greens,
sometimes assisted by a horse-drawn mower, the horse having leather boots put
on over the hooves so as not to damage the grass.
The wooden Clubhouse
was supplied and constructed by the Wire Wove company of Queen Victoria Street,
London. It stood, withstanding the severest of weather, for over 70 years. It
is interesting to note that when the building was demolished in 1974, it was discovered
that it had no foundations as such, but rested on heavy wooden beams laid on concrete
"Dollys" similar to the present-day American "Doughnuts".
Wells Golf Club - The Wooden Clubhouse 1920
Incorporated in the clubhouse was accommodation for a Steward and Stewardess.
Cooking was done on a coal-fired range and the clubhouse and drying-room were
heated by large cast-iron stoves, parts of which became red-hot when well stoked
up in the winter. Lighting was by paraffin lamps and sanitation by earth closets,
with access from outside the building for emptying daily.
By early 1906,
as the course and clubhouse were now in use, the directors of the company decided
that the Llandrindod Wells Golf Club should be formed.
A meeting was
called on 7th March 1906 and this minute was recorded: "That the persons
present at the meeting of golfers whose names the secretary has read form themselves
into a Golf Club to be called the Llandrindod Wells Golf Club and that the rules
and regulations dated 6th day of November 1905 shall be accepted as the Rules
and Regulations of the Club."
Thus the Llandrindod Wells Golf Club
and the Llandrindod Wells Golf Club Company Ltd. were formed and a famous Golf
Course was created for the future benefit of visiting golfers to the Spa as well
as the local people. The Official Opening was to take place on Saturday, 18th
The 18th May, 1907 was a glorious sunny day. The occasion
was marked first by two singles matches, the first played by the local Professional,
George Humble, against the then current Open Champion, James Braid of Walton Heath
who was Open Champion in 1901, 1905 and 1906, (and was to be so again in 1908
and 1910), and the second between Harry Vardon of Totteridge, Open Champion 1896,
1898, 1899 and 1903, (and again in 1911 and 1914), and J H Taylor of Royal Mid-Surrey,
Open Champion in 1894, 1895 and 1900, (and again in 1909 and 1913), the winners
being James Braid and Harry Vardon.
In the afternoon two foursomes matches
were played by the distinguished professional golfers and a very happy and successful
day was concluded.
Exhibition matches were held on the course attracting
visitors and golf enthusiasts from far afield. The most notable of these exhibition
matches took place in 1911 when no less than four Open Champions played before
a large crowd. These were the Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, James Braid, and J
H Taylor joined by Alex (Sandy) Herd of Huddersfield, Open Champion 1902. A unique
Caddie Master and Caddies, circa 1909
In 1910 the qualifying round for the News of the World Professional Championship
took place with a special prize of £25 donated by the Club.
was becoming more popular and a Mrs Bird from Penarth wrote on behalf of the Welsh
Ladies Golf Union asking if the qualifying round of the Welsh Ladies Championship
could be played at Llandrindod. This was agreed to, subject to certain undefined
conditions appertaining to Ladies Golf, and the committee donated £5.00 as a gesture
In 1912 the secretary's salary was agreed at £100 per annum.
In the same year, a letter was received from five club members requesting
that golf be allowed on Sunday. The committee decided that a ballot should be
held to decide the issue and subsequently 127 voting papers were sent out. The
result was that 58 voted for Sunday golf and 33 voted against. The directors were
of the opinion that there was not enough feeling for or against the proposition
so decided not to make a change. However, in 1914, after further meetings of the
committee, Sunday golf was allowed in spite of two strong letters opposing it
from the Revd Singers-Davies.
During the 1914-1918 Great War the club
continued to function with some difficulty However, on 29 April 1919 H I Walker,
secretary of the Welsh section of the Professional Golfers Association wrote requesting
the use of the course for the PGA Victory Tournament to be played on 21st May.
This was enthusiastically agreed to by the committee. At the same time Field Marshal
Sir Douglas Haig was elected an honorary member and subsequently served as President
of the Club.
An attempt was made in 1932 to obtain an electricity supply
to the clubhouse but to no avail. Eventually a generator was installed driven
by a petrol engine which could be clearly heard in the town when the wind was
in the right direction.
During the 1930s there were many problems in
the running of the course and clubhouse. There was much discussion with regard
to the pay and duties of George Humble, the professional. George Humble's hours
of work were becoming increasingly erratic so the committee decided to set out
his duties as far as practicable. His hours in the summer and winter were decided
and his duties were to supervise the work on the course, control of the caddies
and fixed times arranged for private tuition. He was also instructed to keep out
of the clubhouse at the request of the directors. Any refreshments purchased by
him must be obtained from the back entrance. It should be appreciated that golf
professionals were considered servants of the club and did not achieve their present
high standing until just before the second World War.
With all the extra
administrative work to be done, the secretary, J Lewis Wilding, felt that a full
time job was beyond him and suggested that a younger man be appointed. Consequently
he resigned with effect from the end of February, 1935 after 30 years.
At a ceremony at the clubhouse attended by many club members as well as the directors,
he was presented with a radiogram and cheque in appreciation of his years of service.
In February, 1935 the Club advertised for a new secretary to replace
Mr Wilding. The salary was to be £200 per annum without accommodation. Five applicants
were seen and Captain J.R. Nelson was appointed as the first full-time secretary
of the club. A letter was received that year from the manager of the Midland Bank,
Lampeter, requesting use of the course for a Managers' Golf Day. This was agreed
and a charge of 2 shillings per player for the day was arranged.
was decided to upgrade the course and James Braid was invited to visit the club
and submit plans for improvement. James Braid visited the course and submitted
his report and his account of £11 and 11 shillings. Much concern was expressed
at the large number of sheep on the course and the irritation and inconvenience
caused to members and visitors alike. Mr Wilding pointed out that the Company
had no control over the number on the leased land but he would contact Capt Woosnam
with a view to limiting the numbers. This resulted in a reduction in the number
of sheep during the summer months to around 150. The new lease was approved and
signed. Mr T L Vaughan, the grazier, was to be allowed to trap rabbits on the
Much criticism and many complaints were being made at this time
against the club Professional, George Humble. The secretary was asked to draw
up a report and as a result Mr Humble was given notice to retire after taking
14 days holiday with pay and was awarded a pension of 10 shillings per week after
32 years service.
The Club then advertised for a professional and eventually
W C Grabham was appointed to take over in July 1937 at a wage initially of £100
A new Calor Gas system was installed for heating and lighting,
affecting a substantial reduction in the coal bill. The qualifying round for the
Welsh Professionals for the Daily Mail tournament was held on the course on 25th
March, 1937, also, the district final of the Ladies' Wakefield Trophy.
Several ladies complained to the Secretary that the bull belonging to the tenant
of the Hall Farm had been loose on the road up to the Club on several occasions
and had caused them no little consternation, so the Secretary was asked to contact
the farmer. This was done but occasionally the bull escaped and the matter was
settled finally when the bull was sold.
On the 19th August, 1938 Mrs.
Seaborne attended the committee meeting, the first time a lady had been appointed.
She did not attend many meetings, however, and eventually resigned.
March 1939 Chris Grabham, the club professional, won the Welsh Professional Championship.
On September 3rd 1939 war was declared, the Open Meeting for 1939 was cancelled
and the company and club prepared themselves for the difficult times that were
History of Llandrindod Wells Golf Club, 1905-1939", H.A. Bottomley, The Radnorshire
Society Transactions, 1992, pp 96-111.|
(Reproduced by permission of H.A.
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