The History of Royal Winchester Golf Club
The Club was formed in 1888, as a result of a growing interest in the game of golf, shown largely by the masters of Winchester College, the Officers of the Military, and a number of local gentlemen. The man who decided to do something about this, in a practical way, was The Rt. Hon.The Earl of Northesk. He called a meeting of all interested parties, which was held in the Winchester Guildhall. At this meeting, it was decided that a Golf Club be formed. Mr Richard Moss was elected as its first President, and Lord Northesk, Captain.
Sufficient land was rented at Morn Hill on the Winchester/Petersfield Road, and a Golf Links was laid out. The cost of this was met by the issues of Debentures, to be subscribed for by the members. These were valued at £5 each, and were re-payable on request. With the aid of the £50, loaned to the Club by Lord Northesk, a hut was erected on the Links, and a Sgt Shawford, recently retired from the Rifle Brigade, hired to look after things. It was decided that the Club would be known as ‘The Winchester Golf Club’, and a hope was expressed that it might be called ‘Royal’, if and when they deserved it. So, prophetically, spoke the Earl of Northesk in 1888. Unfortunately, he did not live to see his prophecy come true.
Among the keenest of the playing members, were the following stalwarts from Winchester College. The Rev. G M A Hewett, the Rev J F (Trant) Bramston, Mr Randle (later to become Headmaster) who used to go between College and Links on a Penny-farthing, and the Revs. Richardson and Garbutt. In 1889, Lord Northesk was forced, against his principles, to accept the Captaincy for a further year. It was found to be impossible to find anyone with both the time and enthusiasm for a task, which by its very nature, must have been a veritable labour of Hercules. So much so, in fact, that the next incumbent was elected in ‘absentia’. However, the gentleman in question accepted the honour in good part, and spared no effort in carrying out his duties.
By this time, the Club was settling down, and Spring and Autumn meetings were organised. The Earl of Northesk had presented a silver bowl, to be played for at each of the meetings, and Richard Moss, a Shield to be presented to the Club champion. Monthly medals were also played for. Oddly enough, the results of these matches were not to be found in the Sports’ pages of the local papers, but were tucked away in the Social Columns. It was not unusual to find such results sandwiched between a list of guests who had attended a dinner given by the Duke of Wellington and the account of a ball held at Cranbury Park.
Bi-annual General Meetings were held in a room, put at the members’ disposal, by the proprietor of the City restaurant, in Jewry St. At one such meeting in 1891, it was proposed that a Ladies’ Golf Club should be formed, and that land for the provision of another Links be rented for the purpose. This, however, was to be located on ‘the other side of the road from that used by the gentlemen!’ It is probable that this was the first Ladies only golf course in the world. At the same time it was suggested that some provision be made for the use of the Mens’ Links, by such of the ‘Townsfolk’, who wishes todo so. This, at certain restricted times.
Now that the Club was beginning to function, and more people were beginning to take an interest in the game, it was decided, that, in order to improve both the Links, and the general standard of play of the members, a professional should be engaged. This was done, and they acquired the services of Andrew Kirkaldy of St Andrews. At that time, 29 years old, he had given up golf and joined the Black Watch at the age of 18. He served in Egypt, and fought in the Omderman. Although his appointment at Winchester was for six months he did not settle to the routine of a Club professional, and he left after six weeks, to return to St Andrews where he became a playing professional until he was appointed to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. His salary was to have been £28, a lot of money in those days. The Club were paying £27.1s per year for the rental of the 24 acres of land upon which the Links were laid out. This much to the disgust of the Rev. Dick Richardson, who, at a meeting, stated that the ‘going rate’ for first class arable land was only £1 per acre!
About this time, a young man had taken up his first appointment as a professional at a new Links at Burnham. His name, John Henry Taylor. He had started his golfing career as a caddie at Westward Ho! where he distinguished himself by winning the Working Mens’ Club Championship, on a number of occasions. The lot of the professional, in those days, was a very hard one. There were very few competitions in which they could enter, apart from the ‘Open’. The only way in which they could progress, was, in the fashion of a ‘Western’ gunfighter, to challenge the best they could find, and by either beating them, or giving them a hard time, thus made a ‘name’ for themselves. This however was not to be done lightly, as side stakes were set, and must be put up by the player himself unless he could find a sponsor. Taylor was fortunate in this respect.
At the time Kirkaldy was at Winchester, one of the more prominent members, later to become President, was Mr Adam Kennard, one of his brothers, Monsignor C H Kennard, was the President of Burnham Golf club. Between the two of them, they persuaded Kirkaldy to accept a challenge from the ‘unknown’ English professional, J H Taylor. This was to be in the form of a ‘home and home’ match. Eighteen at Winchester, and eighteen at Burnham, the result over the 36 holes to count. This match, to the surprise of the Golf world of the day, was won by Taylor. So impressed was ‘Andra’, that when he left Winchester, he had no hesitation, in recommending him for the vacant post. So, in 1892, Winchester gained the services of a young man who was to become one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game. He won the Open Championship five times, in 1894-95-1900-09-13. He also tied with Harry Vardon in 1896, but lost the replay. He was runner up in 1904-5-6-14. He won the German and French Championships, and was second in the US Open in 1900.The Club had by that time, begun to play matches against other Clubs, including Ashley Park, Guildford and Crookham.
In 1893, Taylor entered for his first ‘Open’, played at Prestwick. On his way there, he played a challenge match against ‘wee’ Ben Sayers, at Musselburgh, which finished all square, a feat reckoned to have been ‘nae sae bad for a Cassanach!’. However he could only finish tenth to Auchterlockie in the ‘Open’. Taylors coaching improved the standard of play at Winchester. In particular that of Miss Amy Pascoe, who won the Ladies’ Open at Hoylake in 1896. As she lived at Woking, it was not an in considerable journey to make for her lessons. On Thursday 21 September 1893, a General Meeting was held in the club room in Jewry St. In the absence of Richard Moss, who was in London, and unable to travel owing to illness, the Chair was taken by the Vice President and ex-mayor Mr T F Kirby. Captain Russell, Club Captain, gave notice of a motion to amend Rule I. “That the name of the Clubs hall be ‘The Royal Winchester Golf Club”. To amend Rule XXXI, “That the Club coat shall be red, with blue collar and cuffs, and brass buttons having crossed golf clubs and a Royal crown surmounting the initial RWGC”. He had suggested that HRH, the Duke of Connaught become patron of the Club. To this, His Royal Highness had consented.
It had then occurred to him (Capt Russell), that his Club should be called The Royal Winchester Golf Club, provided his Royal Highness had no objection. He had there forewritten to the Duke’s Aide de Camp, asking if the Duke had any objections. The Aide de Camp replied “His Royal Highness hasdesired me to inform you that he has no objection to the Winchester GolfClub being styled ‘The Royal Winchester Golf Club’. This was agreed, and the letter sanctioning the appointment was ordered to be kept with the Club papers. The Club Secretary at that time, was Mr W D Gibb. At the same meeting Mr Brockley tended his resignation, as he was removing from the district. He stated, however, that hewished to leave two £5 debentures with the Club, so they could buy a trophy in his name. This was agreed. Two cups were purchased, and are played for yearly, in the Brockley Foursome.
On 2 November 1898, a meeting was held at the headquarters of the Winchester Golf Club in Jewry St. In the Chair, Mr E H Buckland, recently appointed as Club Captain. In attendance were representatives of Golf Clubs within the County. At this meeting, it was suggested that a County Golf Association, for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, be formed. The only other one in existence was that of Yorkshire, which had been formed some six months earlier. This was agreed, and the following committee elected. Mr Buckland, RWGC, Mr Morton, Hook. G C.Mr Nichols, Sparsholt. Mr Hargrieves, New Forest G C Col. Coyne, Penton and Capt. Payne, Southsea. In 1894, the first Association Championship was held on the Winchester Links, the winner being one of the greatest amateur golfers of his time, Lt F G Tate, killed in the Boer War, in 1900. The Freddie Tate Cup, is given annual to the leading amateur in the South African Open. E H Buckland was, himself, a most accomplished sportsman. Prior to being appointed as a master at Winchester College, he had, while up at Oxford, become a Double Blue, at Cricket and Racquets. He scored a century for Oxford against Surrey at the Oval in 1888. He also played cricket for Hampshire.
At Winchester, he developed into a first class golfer, winning the County Championship in 1897-8-9. JH Taylor, writing as late 1943, said that he had never met a man who could hit a golf ball as hard as Mr Buckland of Winchester.
As more Golf Clubs were formed and those already in existence, became interested, the Association grew. Among the new members were United Services, Haslar, Ryde, Twyford and Shawford, Hayling, Southampton, and Bournemouth. This also allowed more opportunities for inter-club matches. J HTaylor, although a great golfer, and an excellent teacher, was not club maker. Consequently allrepairs were carried out at the Sports Shop adjacent to the College. As this constituted a loss of both time and money in Taylor, he persuaded an assistant professional from his old club at Westward Ho!, and who was a first class club maker, to join him at Winchester.
Between them, they opened a shop, and the firm of Cann & Taylor, came into being. The two names together caused some confusion inthe ecclesiastical City. A letter was received at the cathedral, addressed to Canon Taylor, ordering some golf clubs. In it, the writer expressed his surprise that the Reverend gentlemen found time to make golf clubs, and at the same time carry out his ecclesiastical duties! When Taylor left the Club, in 1896, Cann was appointed Club Professional and remained there until 1899, when he left for Pittsburgh, USA. There, he opened a Sports Shop, specialising in golf equipment. However, the firm of Cann & Taylor still remained in business in Winchester. In 1899 a letter appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle, on 20 May. This proposed that a golf Club be formed, and Links laid out at Teg Down, for the benefit of residents in North Winchester. It was signed by a Commander Grant-Dalton. R N Wyke Lodge. Hon. Sec. Pro. Tem.
On the following Saturday, another letter appeared, signed by a Mr E Eames, tenant of Teg Down. He stated that it was the first he had heard of the proposal, and that his landlord’s had given him no notice of it. Whilst he did not object to the Army carrying out exercises on parts of it from time to time, he rather drew the line at a Golf Links! An apologetic letter, from the gallant Commander, was printed the following week in which he stated that his original letter was in the nature of an exploratory probe, in order to find out how many were interested in the idea, and that he had not, in fact, approached the Landlords of Teg Down. No more was heard of this matter, at the time, and it appeared to die a natural death. In April of that year, the Hants and Isle of Wight Golfing Society held their annual meeting at the Haslar, United Services Links. The winner of the County Championship, for the third year running, was Mr E H Buckland of Royal Winchester.
County Championship Scores:
E H Buckland RWGC 89-78 – 167
Maj Dumbleton Utd Serv 93-82 – 175
W R Reid do. 85-90 – 175
Other competitors were from the following Clubs. Ryde, Twyford and Shawford, New Forest, Hayling, Southampton and Bournemouth. Mr Buckland’s Club handicap at that time was plus 3.In 1899 Cann, who had replaced Taylor as Club Professional, left for the US, to open a business in Pittsburgh, in which Taylor had an interest. He was replaced by an employee of Cann and Taylor, namely R Munday. Although, both Taylor and Cann had left Winchester, the firm of Cann and Taylor still carried on. Taylor himself went to America that year, to play some exhibition matches with Harry Vardon and to play in their Open Championship. He did not do well in the Open, which was won by Vardon.
He cared little for America, and despite being offered the unheard of sum of £2,000 per annum to stay there, came back to England. On Tuesday March 6 1900, a General Meeting of the Royal Winchester Golf Club was called. So many attended that they could not all enter the room and had to content themselves by sitting in the passage and on the stairs. Officials present were Chairman Richard Moss MP, Vice President Mr T F Kirby, The Captain The Hon Douglas Carnegie, Treasurer Mr T E Newton and the Hon Sec General Twemlow.
At this meeting, it was suggested that the Links be removed from Morn Hill to Teg Down. The position at Morn Hill, was as follows. The land was held on yearly tenancies from three lessors. These were subject to six months notice on either side. Cost, £25 to a Mr Stratton, £25 to a Mr Parker, and to a Mr Hillier. Mr Parker was prepared to offer a fourteen year lease, Mr Hiller, a seven year lease, but Mr Stratton could only offer a yearly one, as he himself, was not the own of the land. A lease of land at Teg Down could be obtained under the following conditions, for 197 acres, the lease would be for fourteen years at £75 per annum, plus rates, and a sum of money to be decided, as compensation for the present tenant. This was also subject to a reservation by the lessor, in this case, the Ecclesiastical Commission, of 35 acres, if required, for development. Some of this outlay could be recouped by subletting the grazing rights. Points in favour of the move, were made as follows.
Firstly, security of tenure, for at least fourteen years. Secondly, Teg Down was nearer to the Railway station, and thirdly, that if stabling was not built at the Club, it was readily available at both the ‘Red Deer’, and the ‘Roebuck’, on the Stockbridge Road. Both J H Taylor and R Munday had walked over Teg Down. Although Taylor was not in favour of the move, his reason being that the Morn Hill Links had just ‘nicely settled down’, particularly, the greens, which took a long time to reach perfection. He added however, that if they were determined to move, they could not have found abetter spot. The trees and rifle butts, would provide good natural hazards, and with time and attention it could develop into one of the finest inland courses in the country.
The expected cost of the move was – New Golf Hut, Caddies hut and Workshop £400. Making the course £250. One years rent and rates, less grazing rights £64. Tenants compensation and legal costs £100. Contingencies and road making £36. Making the grand total of £850.The income for the year ending Sept 30 1899, was £301. Expenditure, less £25, for one years rent,£197. All debentures had been paid off. The move was agreed to. On Thursday March 29 1900, the first Ladies County match was played on the Winchester course. This was between Hampshire and Surrey. The Home County was captained by Mrs Amos, Winchester Ladies, and Miss Merriott of Winchester also played. Hants won 6 matches to 3. The Ladies had luncheon in the ‘Workshop’ kindly lent by Messrs Conn and Taylor, the food being provided by Dumper’s Restaurant!
From an April edition of the Morning Post 1900. ‘Mr J A T Bramston, son of the Rev J T Bramston a member of the Royal Winchester Golf Club, beat Horace Hutchinson in a match between the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, and the Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake! It was a very short game, Mr Bramston won ten up! ‘This in the morning. In the afternoon he beat H H Hilton by three holes. In a similar match, against the Royal North Devon at Westward Ho! He beat H C Ellis, favourite for the Amateur Championship, by three holes. A Promising Golfer’. However, in the Championship that year, young Bramston, who was in his first year at Oxford, lost in the semi-final. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of the day, devoted a full page to him, with photograph. An honour indeed! In the 1900 Ladies Championship, played at Westward Ho! Winchester had two entrants, Mrs Ames and Miss F Merriott. Unfortunately they met in the third round. Mrs Ames was the sister, but was herself defeated in the next, by Miss Neville of Worcester.It is of interest to note that the Winchester Ladies’ Spring Meeting that year was played on the ‘Long Course’ with a par of 88!
On September 27 of that year, the Annual General Meeting was held. There were at that time, 186 members in the club, and a credit balance of £93.15 was declared. As yet no agreement as to Teg Down had been reached with the lessors. It was apparently dependent upon the plans of the Course and buildings being approved by them. This was expected to be finalised within the next week or two. In November, the Hants Ladies beat Kent Ladies at Winchester, by six matches to two, but lost to them away, 5 to 3. They also lost to Middlesex, away by the same margin. In 1906, the Winchester Ladies Challenge Cup, was won by Miss Oxley with a score of 83-5=78 nett. Her handicap was cut by three strokes. This competition was played at the Spring Meeting, the Cup being played for AM a foursome (Ladies), PM and on the following day, a bogey in the morning and a mixed foursome PM. The previous year R Munday had been re-engaged as Pro’ and another of Cann and Taylors assistants had left for Egypt to take up an appointment as Pro’ at the Helwan Golf Club. That same year, Mr OCS Gilliat; established a new course record of 77, playing off 3. He was ‘cut’ to I.
This was the first year that the Northesk Bowl, and the Crowdy Cup were played for, together. Col Bannatyne presented a silver cup, on behalf of the Military members for a match play competition. This was won for the first time, by Mr A F Macfie, who was off plus 2, at the time. On 11 November of that year, the ‘Royal’ beat Fleet, at Fleet by 6 matches to 3, but on the 25th, lost 5 matches to 6, against Oxford University at Winchester. They won the singles 4 to 8, but lost the foursomes 1-3.In February 1902, the Mayor of Winchester, who was a member of the Club, organised a competition for the Caddies, and presented a suit of clothes to the winner, and two suitable prizes to the second and third.The following appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle on April 26th, ‘A massive silver salver has been presented by Col. Burnett Hitchcock, for competition by members of the RWGC in commemoration of the new Course.
It bears the inscription ‘Presented by Col. Burnett Hitchcock, in commemoration of the opening of the new course of the Royal Winchester Golf Club, on Teg Down. March 1901.’The salver was supplied by Messrs Ross & sons, Silversmiths, Cit/Cross. In the Open Amateur Championship of that year, J A T Bramston of RWGC lost in the fourth round, 4 and 2 to Mr C Hutchings, the eventual winner. At that time Mr Bramston’s Club handicap was Plus 6!In June, the Burnett Hitchcock salver was won by Mr W F Corton. It is of note, that references are now made to the winners of the Northesk Bowl and ‘Badge’ and the Fairburn Cup and ‘Badge’.
The 1902 AGM was held in October. While Richard Moss was prepared to carry on as President of the club for as long as the members desired him to do so, Mr T F Kirby, who had been Vice President since 1888, resigned that office. He stated his intention of remaining as a member of the Club, but no longer in an official capacity. This was regretfully accepted, but it was decided not to fill the vacancy for the time being. The Rev. Dr Burge, headmaster of Winchester College, was elected Club Captain succeeding Mr H Gourley. It was proposed that the Committee be increased from eight members to ten, so that it would be easier to get a quorum. It was also agreed that two Hon. Secs. be appointed to lighten the workload. Financially, the Club were showing a deficit of £112.13.10. This was due to the course being finished out of income. There were also a lot of members abroad and they were not liable for subscription. There were at that time 185 Ordinary members. The present limit set upon membership was 200, it was approved that it should be increased to 250.
There were 44 Lady members. Two Open meetings, under the auspices of the Hants and Isle of Wight Golfing Society, had been held at Winchester during the year. The Professional Tournament had been won by the Club Pro RMundy. The County Amateur title being won by Mr J A T Bramston of RWGC. The retiring Captain Mr H Gourlay presented a silver Rose Bowl, as his Captain’s Prize. He also offered a £5 gold piece for the first member to produce a card containing three 2’s in a competition in which the score would be registered by another individual. The usual supper for the Staff had been held during January and a good time was had by all.It was decided to dispense with the services of the Professional R Mundy, and engage a working Gamekeeper instead. It was thought that a Greens staff of at least three was essential. The workshop had been let for £10 per annum, (presumably to Messr Cann and Taylor). I am presuming that at that time Mundy went back to Cann & Taylor as an assistant.At the same meeting, the Hon R C Grosvenor, a four handicap golfer proposed that no further alterations to the course should be made without a plan being submitted to a General Meeting.
He said that earlier in the week, a similar proposition had been put forward at St George’s Sandwich, and although it had been turned down by three votes, their President had remarked that it must come to that eventually. Alterations to the Greens meant expenditure and members should be permitted to express their views. Having ‘made his point’, the Hon. Gent was quite prepared to withdrawn his motion. This was accepted. A point of interest. The first seven returns in the November Monthly Medal were made by the following Handicaps. – 6.5.7 +2. 4.5.4
On May 7 1903, J A T Bramston returned a gross 75 at Teg Down. As he was handicapped at +6 however, his return was 81. He unfortunately lost a stroke, by striking an opponents ball on the green. His score for the first nine holes, was as follows 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.4. = 35.
On Thursday 21 May the new holes were placed for the first time, and new Local rules came into force. The ‘Tees’ have still to be ‘put back a bit’. September 1903 from Reuter’s News, Chicago USA‘JAT Bramston of Royal Winchester Golf Club, England representing the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society at Homewood Country Club, returned a score of 75, 7 strokes below bogey. The following day, over the same course, he won the Maine Challenge Cup, breaking the course record by two strokes. The cup will go to England, where it will be held in the Royal Winchester Club room’.
This year Mr E F Benson ‘holded out’ on the 11th, at Winchester. As this was from the new tee, which iswell below the green and is a distance of some 180 yards it is a feat not likely soon to be repeated’(Quote form Hampshire Chronicle).
The period between the opening of the New Course at Teg Down and the outbreak of the Great War was one of steady expansion. The Club was at the maximum height of its popularity. The subscription for a male playing member, was £2:2:0 and for a Lady playing member or a non playing male, £1:1:0. Entrance fee £3;3s.
The Clubhouse, workshop and Caddies shed, were completed and a Stewardess engaged. This was Mrs Shawford who joined her husband in club employment. He was the retired ?? who had been engaged as Hut keeper at Morn Hill in 1888.The rental of the land was set at £74 per year, £30 of which was recovered by letting out grazing rights. From a balance sheet of 1909 it is seen that income from members, and visitors was £725:16s and locker rents £35.
Entrance fees £78:15s, caddies earnings £218:7s and refreshment receipts£54:9s. Expenses were kept separate and were in three categories. Green expense which included staff£228:5s, Caddies £208:13s.
Materials, hire of horse and cart and casual labour £89. Clubhouse and buildings wages of Steward and staff £85:12s. Repairs, coal wood and water, washing, gas, telephone, insurance and rates and taxes £202:8s. General expenses covered club prizes and medals, printing and postage, newspapers, accident insurance and expense for the spring and autumn meetings. £102:5s. To give an idea of the cost of materials, 80 ton of sand was priced at £21. The prize money was greatly in excess, pro rata, to that of today. Two guineas being not uncommon and one guinea being the norm. With the ‘sub’ at £2:2s, those prizes were equivalent to £35 and £17:10s. A list of the members during that period appeared to have been culled from Debrett, Crockfords and the Army and Navy lists. For example:- Patron and Hon Member HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark
Col the Viscount Hardings
The Earl of Caernarvon
The Earl of Northesk
Admiral Count Metaxis
Admiral Sir C Boyes
Sir G Cambell Bart
Sir G Cooper Bart
Sir H Freeling Bart
Sir G Lagdon KCMG
The Rt Hon G Shaw Lefevre
Capt The Hon A Hewitt RN
Commander the Hon C S Dormer RN
Major the Hon Guy Baring MP
Major the Hon J R Brownlow
The Hon D Carnegie
The Hon R C Grosvenor
The Hon F Baring
The Hon C N Bruce, Oxford Blue, now Lord Aberdare
The Hon L Bruce
The Hon R G G Morgan Grenville
The Hon G Hewett
Admiral T V Burnell
General A Laughton
General H K Hope
General E Keate
General B Magrath
General E D Twemlow
The Rev Cannons: Causton, Furneaux, Martin and Smith.
Lady Members: Lady Ashburton, Lady Cooper, Madam de Lafort, The Hon Mrs Leith.
Among the famous golfing members was a Mr A F Macfie, the man who won the very first ‘Amateur Championship’ held at Hoylake in 1885. In it, he defeated Mr H G Hutchinson 7 and 6. Hutchinson won it in ’86 and ’87.In 1909 a number of letters of resignation were received from members mostly resident in the Southampton area, stating their intention of joining the new course opening at Stoneham. This was to develop into the first class course, and excellent club which it is today.
There was also apparently a Course at Shirley at that time. I am greatly indebted to Mr Victor John Henry Shawford for the following information. Born in 1895, he is now, at eighty years of age as fit and alert as many a man half his age. The son of the Mr and Mrs Shawford first Steward and Stewardess of the Golf club, Victor was brought up in the atmosphere of the Royal Winchester, where he did odd jobs and caddied for the members until following in his father’s footsteps by joining the Royal Green Jackets as a boy solider at the age of fifteen. He began keeping a Journal at a very early age.
Although not having received the benefits of an advanced education his writing is clear and legible and his prose although simple and unaffected brings his subject matter into sharp focus and makes the events about which he writes as alive to us now, as they were to him when they happened.
He was the Godson of the great J H Taylor, hence the John H. He recalls with affection the kindness of the Hon Mrs G Hewitt, who each Christmas day presented every caddie with a Christmas pudding, and 3/6 – quite a sum in those days. A certain Capt Dreydell Bouveri, a huge man known as Shaggie, used to swing his clubs with such vigour that it was not unknown for him to swing himself off his feet completely. In warm weather, he used to sweat profusely and one day coming off the eighteenth green he was seen by the Stewardess who asked him if he had fallen into a lake.
“No Madam” he replied, “but were there one about I’d only be too happy to jump into it”. Another ‘character’ was a young man name Phillipi, the son of the owner of Crawley Court. He was a terrible golfer, and although immensely rich would never employ a caddie. He said that he took so many ‘swipes’ at the ball, that it would be cruel to subject a caddie to the agony of accompanying him. One day, he vanished from the scene and was no more heard of for many months. However, one day the sound of his expensive sports car was heard approached the clubhouse.
He marched in and asked the Stewardess to telephone for a caddie, and to invite the professional to play with him, if he was free and if so to engage a caddy for him as well. Having fixed this up, he proceeded to ‘Birdie’ the first hole, and gave the pro’ a very close game. Within another twelve months, he was playing off ‘scratch’.
This transformation came about apparently when the young man really decided to devote himself to mastering the game. After his last disastrous appearance at the Club, he had gone back to Crawley Court and had his own nine hole course constructed upon which he spent all his time practising until he decided that he had reached a sufficient state of proficiency to once more appear in public. He was, sadly, killed while serving in the RFC in the 1914-18 war.
A cup was presented to the club in his memory. Later the family were to have more bad luck losing all their money in the Clarence Hatry crash. It was rumoured that they lost a million alone in South American investments. He also recalls Mr Edmeads, secretary of Winchester Brewery, and one time mayor, he was a keen foursome player and donated two cups for mixed foursomes. He also mentions the plight of the caddies, many of whom came, not like him, from the poorest homes. It was heart breaking to watch them during the winter period when there was little carrying to be done, tramping backwards and forwards through the frozen ‘rough’ hoping to put their bare feet on a lost ball, which they could sell to the Pro’ to enable them to buy something to eat. He remembers giving them his sandwiches many a time, as he could not bear the look on their faces as they watched him eating.
In September 1912, a letter from the Home Office was received by the Club. This stated that the Secretary of State’s attention had been drawn to the use of the prefix, Royal. He requested an explanation as to the authorisation for its use. The Club informed him that such title had been conferred by HRH The Duke of Connaught in 1893.In reply to this, the Home Office asked for documentary proof, as there was no record of the grant of title on file. The Club informed the Home Office that although the authority had been contained in a letter from HRH’s aide, it had been mislaid and could not be produced.
They did however produce a letter from Major Russell Captain of the Club in 1893, and who had in fact written the original letter asking HRH to be patron of the Club and ask if he had any objection to the Club using the prefix Royal. He stated that he had instructed the Club Secretary of the day, to put the reply in this letter with the Club papers. After a lapse of twenty years his memory did not appear to be very good, as he named the Secretary at that time as being General Twemlow, whereas my investigations reveal that it was a Mr Gibb.
The Home Office replied that the correct procedure was for applications to go through his Office for recommendation and onward transmission to the Sovereign. This ‘friendly’ hint was taken by the Club, and the title was immediately granted by H M King George V on 2 January 1913.
This contretemps was caused by a series of coincidences. At the time of the original application, The Duke was in command at Aldershot. It is apparent that neither he nor his Aide had any idea as to the procedure to be followed for the conferring of the prefix Royal. There is no doubt that had he been at his London establishment, the matter would have been dealt with by his Secretary, who would have been aware of it. It is inconceivable that had the proper procedure been followed that the request to the Sovereign would have been turned down. Many Officers of the Green Jackets were members of the Golf Club, and His Royal Highness was Colonel of the Regiment. It is interesting to speculate why and by whom, the attention of the Secretary for State had been drawn to the matter.
After all, the prefix had been freely used for twenty years. Wide publicity had been given to J H Taylor’s participation in the ’Opens’, when he was professional at ‘The Royal Winchester Golf Club’. The note paper used in the correspondence by the Club bore the club crest which included the Royal prefix. Below the crest were the words Patron HRH The Duke of Connaught.
In 1907, Prince Arthur of Connaught was made an Honorary member of the club. Fortunately his personal letter of acceptance is still existent and is with the Club papers. The loss of a document in those days, is not surprising. Prior to 1901, there was no Clubhouse or Office. The Secretary had perforce to keep his documents at home, as of course had the Treasurer.
With the changing of Officers, and the move from Morn Hill to Teg Down it is not surprising that I have been unable to trace any documents held by the Club prior to 1901.The matter of the Title, raised after twenty years could be attributed to the disaffected member but is more likely to have been caused probably quite unwittingly by another Golf club, applying for theprefix and quoting the Royal Winchester as an example. However, the whole thing was a storm in a teacup which was probably just as much of a bore to the Home Office as it was to the Club. Extract from the Golfers Handbook (page 561).
Royal Golf Clubs
The right to the designation Royal, is bestowed by the Sovereign or a member of the Royal House. Inmost cases the title is granted along with the bestowal of Royal patronage on the Club.
When the Club moved up to Teg Down, Chilbolton Avenue, was only made up from Stockbridge Road to the junction of Links Road. In 1910, it was decided to continue it to its present termination at Romsey Road. In the original agreement between the Club and the Lessors, the land west of the new road, was subject to a three months reclamation clause, for the purpose of development. The Lessors now wished to have that portion of the land more readily available for house building and suggested that the availability should be changed from three months to one. In exchange, they offered a new lease for 21 years from 1910,at a rent of £83 per annum until 1921, and a rate of £100 per annum after that date, to the end of the term.
Extra land would be granted free of reclaim, adjacent to the Clubhouse for the erection of any additional buildings required by the Club. After prolonged negotiations agreement was reached, in the latter half of 1911. Security of tenure was assured until 1931, of 197 acres at less than 10/- per acre. The houses which border the present 13th hole, were built on the reclaimed land.
Credited to The Royal Winchester Golf Club
Sourced from The History of The Royal Winchester Gold Cub