“By a merciful dispensation of Providence, fir trees, sand and heather which are beautiful things in themselves, are the ingredients from which inland golf courses should be made. The prettiest courses are also the best, and certainly one of the prettiest and the best is St George’s Hill” – the thoughts of Bernard Darwin.
St George’s Hill remains today a golfing gem. Each hole, of which there are three loops of nine, is memorable and individual in character, with heather, silver birch and stately Scots pine – the fairways are undulating and follow the natural contours of the land. The original concept of the course and estate was unique. It was the first development of a golf course being constructed with the intention of building luxury houses adjacent to the fairways. W G Tarrant, a local builder, had the foresight to see an opportunity when the land became available in 1911.
Having acquired it, he enlisted the services of Harry Colt, the most prolific golf architect of his generation, to design the course. And so St George’s Hill was born, being ready for play in October 1913. Undoubtedly, Colt was a genius, one of the great, if not the greatest golf architect of all time and it has been suggested that St George’s Hill is his masterpiece.
The Clubhouse stands on the highest point of the course affording wonderful panoramic views of the opening and closing holes, and no doubt providing every golfer with a lasting memory of this magnificent course.
Pride of Place, The First One Hundred and One Years of St George’s Hill Golf Club, is an extensively illustrated history of the Club written by Richard Norris.
The St George’s Hill Estate has for centuries been acknowledged as an area of great natural beauty, which was once owned by royalty and the aristocracy. It was, therefore, of intense public interest when, in, 1912, a local builder and property developer, agreed proposals with the then owners, the Egerton family, to adapt the area to become a high quality residential estate with sporting facilities. That these principles still apply today is testimony to the vision of Mr W G Tarrant. Golf club members are among the beneficiaries of this, in particular that he engaged Harry Colt, an accomplished golf course architect, to design the course which we all love so much.
The 964 acres of land on St George’s Hill acquired by W G Tarrant from the Egerton family to build the first residential, tennis and golf course development.
Course designed by Harry Colt with a length of 6,300 yds; bogey, 75. A prolific golf architect, Colt was involved with over 300 designs in 20 countries.
Course opened by Prince Alexander of Teck, the Clubs first President, on 2nd October. 12 of the leading professionals of the day, including J H Taylor, the Open Champion, James Braid, and Abe Mitchell played in the opening competition. It was won by George Duncan with a 71. First Captain Horace Hutchinson; First Professional Frank Frostick; First Secretary Captain J Bunbury.
Clubhouse converted to a military hospital run by the Red Cross. Members subscribed over £1,500 to equip the building and some 3,000 wounded were treated.
Silver Trophy Open Amateur Competition instituted. Many great golfers such as Tommy Armour, Bob Charles and latterly, Gary Wolstenholme, have played in the event.
The greater part of the Clubhouse was destroyed by fire which started in the thatched roof.
1924 – International Challenge match held between George Duncan & Abe Mitchell (GB) and Walter Hagen & Macdonald Smith (USA). Played over 72 holes – 36 were at Oxhey Golf Club - GB were winners by 4&2.
Second 18 hole course (The New) officially opened. Designed by Colt and measuring 5,246 yds with a bogey of 71, the course was built to attract new members.
Seven club members played in the Amateur Championship at St Andrews won by Bobby Jones, the year of his Grand Slam. The late Cowan Shankland, a member for 74 years, met Jones in the third round losing 4&3.
Members acquired Club from W G Tarrant.
Ladies’ International GB v France for Vagliano Cup held. Played for biennially, the match was won by Great Britain.
HRH Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) elected Captain.
War Office requisitioned areas of the two courses for training and defence of the Vickers aircraft factory at Brooklands. Barrage balloons were sited on the 5th, 7th and 17th holes.
Artisans’ Section formed. The Section has a proud and thriving membership who provide valuable help in maintaining the course. Second course reduced to 9 holes through lack of funds and a reduced membership.
Vagliano Cup held again. GB beat the French team 8 matches to 1.
Frank Frostick retired after 40 years as the Club’s professional. Max Faulkner, Open Champion in 1951, was appointed and remained until Lambert Topping, a renowned club maker, took over in 1955.
Final of Shell Winter Tournament held. Won by Brian Hugget with a round of 68.
Tony Rattue appointed Head Professional following Lambert Toppings retirement
Second course (now designated the Green Nine) upgraded from a plan drawn up by a member, Peter Preston. The redesign was undertaken by Donald Steel.
Course record 64 set by Andrew Raitt, the Club’s tournament professional.
Fairway irrigation installed throughout all 27 holes.
Silver Trophy won by Gary Wolstenholme with a 36 hole score of 145. Gary’s father, Guy, was attached to the Club as a tournament professional in the 1970s.
New Course record of 61 set by Tim Spence, the Professional from Sweetwood Park GC, in this year’s Nelson Trophy.
Major refurbishment of clubhouse completed.
The Club win the prestigious Hudson Trophy a scratch team event held annually by South Herts GC.
Duncan Hamilton-Martin, a member for over 25 years, won the first of his two victories in the British Disabled Golfers’ Championship
The Club’s Centenary year highlights:
Centenary Legacy Fund launched. Tony Rattue retired after 42 years’ service; succeeded as Head Professional by his assistant, James Bishop.
Work begins on construction of an Irrigation Lake.
Hudson Trophy won for a third time.
Launch of Centenary History Book, “Pride of Place”, written by Richard Norris
The remodelled Practice Ground opened.
“One of Surrey’s most hilly and spectacular courses, in heavenly surroundings, but also designed on the soundest of lines which discard any element of fluke” – Frank Pennink in ‘Golfer’s Companion’.