History

Dewsbury Golf Club

We have been around along time in fact since 22nd October 1891.

The course is built on land known locally as the “Pinnacle” Originally designed by Old Tom Morris himself, custodian of the Old course, St Andrews and Open Champion in 1861,62,64 and 1867. It was later made into an 18 hole layout by Ted Ray from Ganton in 1906 and further alterations were overseen by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas in 1972. Some great course designers have left their mark on our course. It is set on the hillside above Mirfield in West Yorkshire. It offers magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

The 18 hole course measuring 6,360 yards and with a par and SSS of 71, offers a true and fair test of your golfing ability, testing your length, accuracy, touch as well as your stamina over the part parkland and part moor land course.

After playing why not visit our clubhouse, which was re built in 2001. Here you can experience some of our warm northern hospitality. We can provide food and beverage to satisfy your needs after your round or just call in to sample our hospitality.

It’s delightful setting, overlooking the course; with pleasant views from its elevated position help complete what we hope will be a memorable day.

We look forward to welcoming you in person

DDGC - The early years

With Dewsbury District Golf Club having been founded one hundred and twenty five years ago there is no better time to look back and celebrate our clubs history. Documenting everything that has happened over all those years would be a huge undertaking; however, for the clubs centenary, Mr SH Livesey took on the task and a book was published giving an insight into the clubs first one hundred years. Perhaps writing about the earliest years, which are now well beyond living memory, would be the thing to do ensuring that those golfing pioneers and the story of the beginning of Dewsbury District Golf Club will not be forgotten.

On October 22nd 1891, a meeting was held at a café in Church Street, Dewsbury and the club was founded with twenty members. A committee was formed with Mr TG Beaumont being the first Honorary Secretary; he and six other members were tasked with creating the course on what was described as “rough ground”. This land, on which Calder Farm Rectory stood, was part of the estate owned by Mr EB Wheatley Balme and the manager of the reformatory was Mr Heppel.

In 1922, Mr WH Shaw, the Club Captain in 1920 and Club President from 1922 to 1940 recollected, in a newspaper article for the Nottingham Evening Post that the founder members described themselves as “not only pioneers but also martyrs of the game”. “Old” Tom Morris, the Professional at St Andrews was asked to come down and layout the course. He was instructed, by the newly formed committee, to “provide the real thing in golf - and he did”. In his original design of nine holes with a total yardage of 3014 yards, he only provided one short hole which was christened “The Pinnacle” and was 196 yards long. The fairway of this hole was only twenty yards wide with high rough on either side. Mr Shaw was quoted as saying “Old Tom had a passion for length, in which the days of long grass and short drives was altogether too much for the golfing capacity of the early Dewsbury members”. None of the original members knew anything about golf, so all of them received their first lesson from Tom Morris, who had been contracted to do a bit of teaching when he laid out the course. This original course had no bunkers; however the walls, fences, clumps of trees and the rifle butts served as natural hazards and the course described at the time had “a sufficiently formidable character”. The rifle butts were used by the Mirfield Volunteers and in the early years it was necessary to suspend all golf on Saturday afternoons in order that rifle shooting could take place. The land where the current 5th to 12th holes are situated was then farmland (mainly cornfields) and not part of the course. Tom Morris was paid a fee of £7 12s 4d, which included his travelling expenses. He also took the opportunity to sell clubs (Drivers, Mid Spoons, Cleeks and Lofting Irons) and balls to the members present. These cost an average of five shillings each; he sold over sixty clubs and over fifty balls to get the members started. Mr Shaw recollected a story that during Tom’s lessons to the members; one of his pupils took his stance with his pipe in his mouth. That would not do for Old Tom, who would not proceed until the pipe was put away. “No man could play golf and smoke at the same time” he said. The very first medal competition under “St Andrews Rules” was played on March 26th 1892 and was won by Mr TG Beaumont with a gross score of 139 - 25 = Nett 114 for eighteen holes. The gross scores on that day ranged from 139 to 238 and the player with the lowest handicap (20) was Mr H Kaye who returned a 186 nett. The handicap range in those early days was from 20 to 36 and the basis of handicapping was to fix a handicap of 20 to anyone capable of completing nine holes in 75 shots or less. The 36 handicap men were those who took more than 99 strokes for the nine holes. Describing playing the course at the time was said “to require a lot of strength to get out of the long grass which was encountered; to hit a long drive from the tee meant in most cases a lost ball, especially during one period when the professional that was engaged at the time had the theory that the ground was too rough to permit the grass to be cut”.

These early golfers were, during this time, said to be “well-nigh heartbroken with their struggle on the difficult and long course which Tom Morris had laid out” and agitation among the members led to the course being shortened to 2,600 yards in May 1893. In these early years, boys from the reformatory were employed as caddies. They were paid 6d for nine holes and 9d for eighteen holes, with the club professional acting as the caddie master. The first professional, Tom Burns was engaged on Tom Morris’s recommendation at £1 per week and who was allowed to charge one shilling and sixpence per nine holes of coaching. Unlike other local golf clubs at the time, where members would wear their old clothes to play golf in; at Dewsbury this was frowned upon and members of the club were encouraged to wear the distinctive club colours of a scarlet coat with navy collar and brass buttons. From those early beginnings, the club made rapid progress. The membership increased quickly, helped not only by the improved golf course and the general interest in the game but also by the building of a pavilion. Previously, the only place for storing clubs and boots was a rented room in a nearby farmhouse. In 1902, there were 107 members; 74 male, 30 women and 3 non-playing; there was a new professional, George Sargent (aged 20) who came to the club by recommendation of Harry Vardon, the professional at Ganton. George was paid a salary of £52.00 a year, in addition earning just over £3 as caddie master and further income from providing teaching to the members. George Sargent

The club had grown and by then had a greens committee (which was overseeing many improvements to the course) incorporated within the full committee. They held monthly meetings, mostly in the Market Place at Dewsbury or in the new clubhouse (which was situated over the wall to left hand side of the current 4th hole). The club also built a small workshop and office for the professional at the side of the clubhouse; things were progressing quickly.

Today, if you look closely, you can see where some of the original tees and greens used to be. The notorious “Pinnacle” hole (196 yard, par 3) was the fourth hole in those days and the green can still be seen (to the right of the current 13a green) hidden under the undergrowth and trees along with the small retaining wall. To get to the then 5th tee, they would have walked down a path which leads to the quarry, where steps were cut into the soil. The 5th green was near the current tree line half way up the current 2nd fairway and again there is still a visible flat area where this green was. With the clubs finances improving they could afford to pay the expenses for their professional, George Sargent, to play in the British Open from 1902 to 1906 when he emigrated. He went on to have a hugely successful golfing career in America, winning the US Open in 1909 amongst other successes.

In golfing ability terms, amongst the members, much improvement was seen. Members, Mr W Melrose and Mr G Reuss represented Dewsbury in the county team and both went on to win the Scratch Cup several times in the 1920’s when it was first introduced at the club. The course was extended to eighteen holes in August 1906, over the same land which the course occupies today; by this time there were 170 members. Although the course has been modified a few times since then it still resembles the course back then. Our club, the course and indeed the game of golf have changed hugely over the past 125 years; but we should take time to remember those golfing pioneers who made it possible for us here at Dewsbury District Golf Club.

Article written by Rick Towler

Images of original course