Seacroft Golf Club Centenary

THE Skegness Herald of April 26, 1895, devoted four and a quarter columns to the club and the opening festivities which had taken place on April 24 – a date which fell that year on a Wednesday.

“Wednesday last can hardly be regarded otherwise than a red letter day in the brief, but somewhat eventful history of Skegness, which has rapidly risen into prominence and has taken its place among the many health-restoring and pleasure seaside resorts on the English coast.”

The report goes on to describe how the weather was ‘delightfully fine’ when the 10th Earl of Scarbrough formally declared the links open after making a good drive from the first tee outside the Vine Hotel. Two professionals were then invited to play an exhibition match, 1894 Open Champion J. H. Taylor beating Skegness professional G. K. Wilson.

‘A large and fashionable assemblage of ladies and gentlemen’ from the county and beyond had gathered for the event, in fact the Great Northern Railway ran some special excursion trains and issued cheap tickets for ordinary services.

But immediately after the exhibition match, a heavy shower fell and when that had cleared, a party of gentlemen played over the course including Lord Scarbrough, Major Swan (club captain and the High Sheriff of the county), the Marquis of Granby, Lord Willoughby de Eresby MP, Sir George Goldie, Dr Carruthers, Capt Staniland and Messrs F. W. Fison (a director of the Great Northern Railway Company) and H. M. Leggatt.’

The report concludes by congratulating the club’s hon sec, the Revd C. P. Disbrowe and forecasting that the club would probably become one of the most successful and beneficial institutions established in Skegness.

seacroft-golf

THE Vine Hotel was originally used as the clubhouse but the relationship proved difficult as the agreement required the then landlord to permit free use of certain rooms in the hotel as well as of the land.

But it continued to be the headquarters until the course was moved to its present position. For the first three years there were no proper clubhouse facilities although the directors were on the lookout for a ‘temporary pavilion.’

A separate company was registered for the purpose of building a clubhouse and hotel on the corner of Drake Road and Seacroft Esplanade however the money was not forthcoming and so plans were drawn up to build a clubhouse next to the first tee on the present site.

The building was completed in late 1904 and with furnishings cost just over £830. The money was raised by selling 140 debenture shares of £5 each at five percent annual interest to 40 shareholders whose purchases varied from one to ten shares. These were all repaid by November .

The original building covered an area now occupied by the old ‘smoke room’ plus a small bar with a hatch where the notice board is situated now. The kitchen and mens’ locker room lay north of the smoke room and the ladies’ locker room was on the south side of the building beyond a lounge/dining area.

Food had to be carried through the bar to reach the dining area – this awkward arrangement continuing for the next 60 years. The east and south sides of the building were open verandas and there was a door and steps down to Drummond Road. On the Drake Road comer was the professional’s wooden shop.

By 1960 it was decided that much more accommodation was required and an architect was employed. Four years later the club eventually got a greatly enlarged lounge area, new locker room and dining room, central heating and a steward’s flat.

The bar was re-arranged in 1969 and ten years later, the ladies locker room was enlarged. The club house was again refurbished in 1981/2 since when it has been further extended with new showers in both locker rooms.

seacroft_golf_house_skegness
Seacroft Golf House Skegness

Ideal Site

AN ideal site for golf in a traditional setting – those words are still as true today as they were 100 years ago when the Seacroft Golf Club was formed.

Although not the first club in Lincolnshire, it was conceived in the early days when golf was still a relatively new sport in England. It was proposed, like many another imaginative ideas for the town by the 10th Earl of Scarbrough who laid out the links at his own expense.

A provisional committee met at Skegness Rectory in December 1894 and discussed plans for the course which was designed by Tom Dunn of Wimbledon. It is difficult now to visualise the original nine holes. The first tee was in front of the Vine Hotel and the hole 363 yards away to the east, `this hole should be done in five strokes’.

The course then ran south for two holes, parallel to what is now Drummond Road, then no more than a sand track leading to the coastguard station at Gibraltar Point before turning east again through the sand hills to the fourth green overlooking the sea. The fifth, sixth and seventh holes in the sand hills and the land available for the course extended as far south as the end of what is now the Seacroft Esplanade. The eighth and ninth brought the players back to near the Vine, the course measuring 2,315 yards in length. Bogey (traditional) 38.

Prior to a grand opening there were three committee meetings and decisions were made to employ a labourer and to buy a broom, spade, barrow, flags, tins and a mowing machine. G.K. Wilson of St Andrews was offered the post of professional in return for wages of £I per week for looking after the greens and one shilling and sixpence per nine hole course for coaching. In those days it was customary for professionals to double up as greenkeepers, a practice which became much less common after the Professional Golfers Association was formed in 1901.

The committee resolved that no caddies be allowed on the links without badges which were obtainable from the committee for one shilling. Caddies were to be paid sixpence for nine holes and ninepence for 18 holes. Badges had to be forfeited immediately on bad behaviour and no caddie was allowed on the green on Sundays – in fact no golf was permitted on Sundays.

golfTURNING THE CLOCKS BACK

ON Monday April 24 1995, members of the Seacroft Golf Club dressed  in Victorian costume to join the present Earl of Scarbrough in re-enacting the happenings on the same day in 1895.

The club expects a large turnout of members for the special ten-hole competition led off by the Earl, whose great uncle drove that first ball 100 years ago.

Anyone in costume from that era will be charged only two shillings, or 10p, for their drinks during a Victorian-style meal which will be served during the celebrations.

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