Chester Golf Club, Sealand.
The original Chester Golf Club, Sealand, Flintshire, was founded in 1891.
On a few occasions the club was also referred to as the Connahs Quay Golf Club or, as in the 1905 Nisbet's Golf Yearbook, the Cheshire Golf Club.
On Friday 12th December 1890 a meeting was held at the Grosvenor Hotel, Chester to consider forming a golf club for the Chester area. Mr H E Taylor presided at the meeting, others present were; Alfred Barker, J L Kemp, F Evans, G H Reynolds, F M Grainger, J M Frost, H Taylor Harrison, R Wilkinson, J L Hedley, J A Mowle, C Greenhouse, F S Shepherd, G Catherall Audsley, W J Walley, Maurice Acheson, W G Dickson, E Gardner, A M Archer, Robert Dennis, W D Jolliffe, H W Young, G H Rogerson, W Welsby, R J Jameson, R D Maddock, G E Herne, E W Swetenham, J G Frost, F W Ingall, H B Dutton, Thomas Bury, S J R Dickson, David Foster, H Taylor, A A Lyle and James Parry. After some discussion it was unanimously resolved that a Golf Club should be formed for the district, and a committee, with Mr F Evans as hon. Secretary and Alfred Barker as hon. Treasurer, was appointed. The Brewer’s Hall, Curzon Park, had been favourably reported on by Jack Morris the Royal Liverpool professional at this time. As can be seen from the following paragraph the club actually settled on the Sealand site, although, curiously enough, Curzon Park would eventually become the home of Chester Golf Club. The initial entrance and subscription fee would be one guinea. It was being considered whether it would be desirable to increase the entrance fee to two guineas when 150 members had joined.
In February 1891 a further meeting was held at the Grosvenor Hotel, Chester to finalise arrangements for a Golf Club, now to be located at Sealand, Flintshire. It was decided that the course was to be laid out on part of the old estuary of the River Dee. The following is an early description of the course “An extremely healthy expanse of marsh, surrounded by picturesque scenery. The proposed nine holes were on a beautiful piece of turf, dry and level ensuring good lies. In due time putting greens as true as billiard tables would easily be made without expense. Further there will be few, if any, lost balls. Also nothing to try the temper, like breaking clubs in trying to extricate the ball from whins , stones and deep bunkers. Indeed, the fault of the ground was uniform in its flatness. There are not enough natural hazards, and the beginners may be inclined to think golf a very easy game, as he is not likely to get much punishment from a topped ball”. The course was eventually extended to 18 holes. The Chester Links were part of the enclosed wild marsh area of Sealand 6 miles from Chester. The chief characteristics of the course were the perfect fairways and the large and good putting greens. Wide and irregular water courses formed the chief hazards which were supplemented by grass covered banks. The station at Birkenhead Junction, Golf Platform adjoined the course. The Chester Tramway Company had a special golfers return fare from Chester costing 1/6d.
Result of a sweepstake handicap held on Whit-Monday, May 1891. The following is from a press report of the time. “The result represents a very creditable performance on the part of the members considering the state of the greens, the “trappy” nature of the course, and the fact that hardly anyone in the club had played the game more than a few times. As time goes on, doubtless many will look back on their early scoring cards with an affectionate smile as they recall those double figures looming all over the card. A round of 18 holes too, on a twelve hole course, going over the most difficult first six holes twice, but the handicapping proved that the form of the members had been accurately estimated”
|A C Jones||119||20||99|
|A B Shaw||130||30||100|
|T G Frost||141||40||101|
|G E Herne||106||4||102|
|R F Fisher||103||scr||103|
|Hon C H Vivian||130||20||110|
|A B Royds||142||30||112|
|T G Frost||166||40||126|
|T M Frost||174||40||134|
There were 20 no returns in the above competition.
The annual open meeting was held on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July 1893. The links, in contrast to most courses at this time, had not suffered due to the drought and was in splendid condition. The feature of the first day’s play was the good form of John Ball jnr who returned a score of 75, this won him the scratch medal, and also a tie for first place in the handicap competition, with Captain Campbell. On the second day the morning scores were not so good, Mr Charles Hutchings winning with 79, Mr Ball was second with 80. In the handicap the results were; Captain Mould, 103-25-78; Mr R Richardson, 95-16-79; Mr J Rowley, 87-6-81. In the afternoon Mr Hilton set a new course record of 74.
On Saturday 15th July 1893 W More, professional at the Chester Golf Club, playing with Mr T P Jones-Parry, equalled the course record, which had been set earlier in the month by H H Hilton. More’s score as follows:
Out - 4,3,4,3,5,4,4,4,6 = 37; In – 4,4,5,4,5,5,3,4,3 = 37 total 74.
On Monday 24th July 1893 a competition for two prizes given by Miss Frost were played, result; Miss Grace Cogswell, 98-16-82; Mrs Tyrer, 92-9-83; Mrs Kendall, 110-24-86; Miss Cogswell, 111-24-87; Miss H F Kelsall, 121-24-97; Mrs Archer, 121-24-97; Mrs E A Ould, 108-10-98.
Result of the August 1893 medal played in high winds which resulted in many no returns; Dr Archer, 91-10-81; C H D Lyon Campbell, 98-10-88; James Frost, 103-15-88.
September 1893 medal result; Mr Soanes, 89-8-81; Dr Archer, 90-5-85; G H Reynolds, 88-1-87.
Below is the result of a match played at Chester against the Carnarvonshire Golf Club on Monday 30th September 1893.
|G H Reynolds||2||J C Pearson||0|
|F W Soames||2||H Smith||0|
|F W Hayes||0||E A Young||4|
|Dr Archer||0||F E Woodhead||6|
|C Lyon Campbell||0||W Hillman||1|
|D Dobie||0||A L Woodhead||4|
|R T Richardson||1||F Smith||0|
|H Jolliffe||0||S Platt||1|
|E C Kendall||0||H B Southall||2|
|R Wilkinson||1||G H Healey||0|
|J G Frost||0||Colonel Marshall||1|
The annual competition for the Yerburgh Challenge Cup was played on Saturday July 28th 1894, result; R W Shand, 96-12-84; Colonel Hutton, 103-18-85; J Rowley, 91-4-87; Mr Gibbons Frost, 98-10-88; Dr Reuton, 92-2-90; Horace Mayhew, 94-3-91; R T Richardson, 99-6-93; Captain Dorling, 109-16-93; R Wilkinson, 106-12-94; Dr Archer, 102-6-96; J Massie, 110-14-96; W D Jolliffe, 113-16-97; J G Frost, 108-9-99; J W Ffoulkes, 127-21-106.
The Jubilee week in June 1897 was celebrated with competitions. The ladies’ played for a prize given by Capt Massie, result as follows; Mrs James Frost, all square; Miss M E Comber, 1down; Miss F Shand, 1down; Miss May Rowley, 2down; Miss Shand, 3down; Miss Greenall, 3down; Mrs Chambres, 5down; Miss M B Comber, 7down. The men played for a prize given by Mr J Rowley, result; Capt Drummond, 92-10-82; Douglas Dobie, 92-10-82; W D Jolliffe, 95-12-83; F O Roberts, 92-8-84; Major Rainsford Hanmay, 98-12-86; W E Fairlie, 86+2-88; R B L Johnston, 97-9-88; R Wilkinson, 101-12-89; E M Woodward, 102-12-90; W S Ashton, 102-12-90; W Hayes, 109-12-97.
On Saturday July 11th 1897 a bogey competition was held for a prize given by Mr G J Johnston, twenty seven cards were taken out, thirteen were returned, as follows; Leonard Rowley and W D Jolliffe both 2down; Dr Norris, Colonel Hutton and E M Woodward, 3down; R Wilkinson, 4down; J M Frost, T W J Snowden and U B Corbett, 5down; J E Pearson and Dr Archer, 6down; J G Frost and R Kellock, 7down.
On Wednesday 11th July 1900 the Chester Ladies’ Club held a competition for the president’s prize, donated by Mr H D Trewlany. The format was very interesting, the best nine even holes of the 18 to count, ie 2nd ,4th ,6th ,8th ,10th ,12th ,14th ,16th ,18th . Result as follows; Mrs Kelloock, 49-8-41; Mrs Neilsen, 46-2-44; Mrs Cuming, 52-7-45; Mrs Sweetenham, 60-14-46; Miss Shand, 51-4½-46½; Mrs Chambers, 53-5½-47½; Mrs Nicholson, 54-4½-49½; Miss Cornelius, 58-8-50; Mrs Thomas, 65-14-51; Mrs Comber, 62-11-51; Miss F Shand, 59-7½-51½; Mrs Archer, 53-1-52; Mrs Ould, 56-3½-52½.
In November 1900 the gents competed for the president, Mr H D Trewlany’s prize. Result of the bogey competition; R Kellock, 1up; Captain Upperton, 2 down; G T Johnston, 3 down; H B Rowley, 3 down; R Wilkinson, 3 down; Dr Eyton Jones, 3 down; O Okell, 3 down; R W Shand, 4 down.
In 1900 the secretary was R Wilkinson, Crumblehome, Chester. Ladies section secretary, Mrs Jane Frost, Broughton Hall, Chester. Amateur course record, F F Wilson 75.
On Wednesday 26th August 1913 the Welsh Amateur Championship was held at Chester. It was played over 36 holes and was won by a local player, H M Atkinson, who defeated C J Hamilton (Royal Porthcawl). The match finished all square after 36 holes, Atkinson winning at the third extra hole. An unusual incident took place during the Championship. The fourteenth was played over the railway and G.J.Johnstone of Chester Golf Club went Out of Bounds. When his caddie went to search for the ball he left the clubs resting against the metals and they were smashed by a train. Johnstone bought a new set from the professional Cyril Hughes.
Result of the Welsh Professional Championship played on the Chester course on Friday 29th August 1913; G Gadd, Wrexham, 146; Cyril Hughes, Chester, 150; R Fernie, Glamorgan, 151; C Gadd, Aberdovey, 154; A Matthews, Rhyl, 154; W Ball, Bangor, 155; R Walker, Southerndown, 157; E Main, Llanfairfechan, 157.
George Gadd, according to the American Golf Illustrated, won the 1913 Welsh Professional Championship at Chester (Sealand) in remarkable fashion. The article in April 1926 said that the ‘Great Britisher’ Abe Mitchell had told their correspondent that George had “appropriated the 1913 championship” with a hole-in-one. On the 18th tee in his final round George had been told that he needed a two to tie and was reported to have said “I can do better than that, I can get a one” - and proceeded to do just that. If it was true it would have ranked as one of the most sensational finishes to a championship. Well - he did do it and it did happen in Wales, but in the intervening dozen years memories had faded. The event actually occurred in April 1914 in a qualifying competition for the Sphere and Tatler Cup at Royal St David’s, Harlech and his ace, for a then course record 71, made him leading qualifier by one. (Thanks to John M Cameron – author of “To The Brink of Fame” the Golfing Gadds)
Reginald Hilton, the secretary, was the brother of Harold, the great amateur Open champion from Hoylake.
|1914||R S Hilton.||Cyril Hughes (p)|
|1922||Reginald S Hilton.||G Williams (g)|
|1924||G H P Lindan.||T Edwards (p) G Williams (g)|
|1925||J T W Glazebrook.||W Dodd (p) G Williams (g)|
|1926||J P Gannon & G P Gannon.||S F Healing (p) G Williams (g)|
|1940/47||A J Musgrave, "Brent Knoll" Leach Lane, Chester.||E H Jones (p&g)|
|1922||J P Carr (am) 74 Cyril Hughes (pro) 67|
|1924||W B Charles (am) 72 J R Williams (pro) 69|
|1940/47||I V Richards (am) 77 E H Jones (pro) 70|
In 1914 there was of 300. The entry fee was £5/5/0 and subs £4/4/0. Visitors fees were three days free if playing with a member after that it cost 2/6 a day, 5/- on Sundays, 7/6 a week and 15/- a month. Sunday play was allowed without caddies. Ladies were not allowed to play on Saturday and Bank Holidays.
Also in 1914 was Chester Ladies Golf Club. The secretary was Miss C Dixon. Entry fee was £1/1/0 and Subs £1/1/0. There was a membership of 100. Visitors’ fees on introduction were three days free with member then 1/- a day, 2/6 a week, 5/- a month. No Saturday or Bank Holiday play. The ladies played on the Sealand course.
In 1922 it was also referred to as the Connahs Quay Golf Club. By 1924 it had reverted to Chester Golf Club, Connahs Quay.
Following WW1 the club lost three holes near the railway and the course had to be re-configured.
A description of the course from the late 1920s “Many an unsuspecting golfer of more or less merit has come to the Chester club, cast his eyes patronisingly over the perfectly flat and simple looking course, declared his intention of beating the record in his stride, and eventually returned to the clubhouse a sadder and wiser man, with the knowledge that things are not what they seem”
The information below is also from the late 1920s.
Following is a hole by hole description of the course:-
First Hole – A straightforward one of 365 yards running close to and parallel with an “out of bounds” fence. It has a diagonal cross bunker at 250 yards from the tee, and the green is guarded by small pot bunkers on both sides and by trouble at the back.
Second Hole – The first of four short holes but of sufficient length to require a straight tee shot. The green is well guarded on three sides by the characteristic Chester “Cop” bunker
Third Hole – Is slightly dog-legged and requires two good shots to reach the green, an accurately placed and lengthy tee shot simplifying matters considerably for the successful player.
Fourth Hole – Of similar length and a really good two-shot hole, calls for a well placed tee shot, as a waterway protrudes into the fairway very near to where a long tee shot will finish. Following a good stroke a second testing shot is required to reach a narrow green tapering to a point at the far end with a run off on all sides except the front.
Fifth Hole – This is into the teeth of the prevailing north-west wind. There is a very fair carry over a wide open ditch crossing the course diagonally, beyond which is an accommodation road. The green is well guarded by cross bunkers in front and on the right hand corner.
Sixth Hole – Considered the best hole on the course and is parallel to the previous one. A good drive, well placed to the left side of the fairway for choice, will leave the player with a “thinking” shot across two wide open ditches (not always dry), with the farther one winding around to guard on the right-hand side of a smallish green and to take toll of a sliced shot. A pulled shot will meet its due reward, either by being out of bounds, or on a very rough sandy cart road.
Seventh Hole – This is played back to a plateau green guarded by a wide ditch and cross bunker in front and a ditch on the left hand side; the prevalent wind is also to be considered carefully on the tee to ensure a three for this hole.
Eighth Hole – Although only 316 yards this hole requires careful play. A straight drive over a cross bunker at about 140 yards from the tee leaves a good iron shot to a green guarded in front by a cop and beyond the green is out of bounds.
Ninth Hole – Beyond the carry of about 150 yards to a perfectly level and good fairway there is no obvious trouble ahead up to the green, which is narrow and tapering with a fall away of the ground on the left-hand side. But the fairway is bounded by a fence which marks the limits of the course and the prevalent north-west wind carries many a ball outside, with the usual penalty.
Tenth Hole – This hole takes us to the farthest end of the course. The principal feature is the tee shot over the wide River “Tugela” which, however, is usually dry in summer. The green is backed by a cop and a small plantation of willows, and is otherwise guarded by bunkers, especially on the right hand side.
Eleventh Hole – Turning towards the clubhouse, the eleventh is the longest hole on the course. There are two cross-water hazards, the first to be carried with the tee shot and the other well placed for the second shot. The green is a small round one, slightly raised above the level of the course.
Twelfth Hole – Turning back towards the prevalent wind, this hole is only reached with two very good shots, the first of which must be straight and well beyond a cross bunker and ditch. This is decidedly one of the best holes on the course. The green has been built up and the second shot must be both far and straight to find the green and ensure a four.
Thirteenth Hole – A good cleek shot in summer and a full drive when the ground is heavy. The foot of the pin can be seen from the tee as there is a narrow open run up. A sliced tee shot will be out of bounds on the railway line.
Fourteenth Hole – This is a normal four hole without difficulty, provided a fair tee shot is hit. There is a carry of about 140 yards and the green is protected on right and left with cop bunkers (see picture below).
Fifteenth Hole – Requires two good shots to get to the green. There is rough country on each side of the fairway, a cross bunker has to be carried with the second and the green is protected by bunkers on both sides.
Sixteenth Hole – This short hole has protecting hazards which makes it an interesting and good three hole, demanding a very straight tee shot.
Seventeenth Hole – This hole should be played as a dog-leg by going slightly to the left. There is otherwise a cop-bunker flanked by a deep ditch about 230 yards from the tee and when this is negotiated the front half of the green is encircled with a formidable cop.
Eighteenth Hole – A correct tee shot should be played slightly to the right of the direct line to the flag, which can be seen from the tee against the clubhouse. Much trouble can be found by ignoring this instruction. The green is guarded with several small cops, but a good second should find it and secure a four.
Card of the course:-
Thanks to Joe Musgrave who, in 2004, provided me with his splendid recollections of the Sealand course, as follows;
“I have very happy memories (as a boy) of the former Chester Golf Club which was wound up during the last war.
I always understood that the club was started by certain members of Royal Liverpool in order that they could play golf on Sundays as this was barred at Hoylake at the time. This is borne out, to some extent, by a handbook which refers to the fact that, among the early “adherents” were John Ball and Harold Hilton and the first professional was W H Moore “a member of Royal Liverpool”
The course was situated on part of the old estuary of the River Dee before it was canalised so that the turf was very near to true links turf although the handbook refers to the “fine marsh turf beloved by sheep”
When I was a boy I played a certain amount on the course with a set of cut down hickory shafted clubs and both my parents were keen members both being at one time Captain and Lady Captain, my mother being a fine golfer who played for Wales.
The club was always in more or less severe financial straits in the inter-war years as membership had declined and regular appeals were made to E B Royden, a founder member and brother of Lord Royden fo financial assistance.
The secretary, Captain Bateman, retired in about 1937 and my father and John Welsby became joint honorary secretaries. Sadly, the war brought about the demise of the club as most of the younger members were serving in the forces and the removal of the civilian petrol ration meant that it was difficult for the remaining members to get to the club.
Geoffrey Summers (of Summers steelworks which overlooked the course), as I recall it, came to the rescue of the club by purchasing the land and giving up part of it for agricultural purposes leaving the number of holes to about twelve, I think, available for play. Unfortunately, this was to no avail, and with mounting debts a special general meeting decided that that the club should be wound up. The various trophies were offered to the last holders at a reasonable price and the proceeds, together with the sale of various assets, were just about sufficient to pay of the debts.
Some twenty five or so years ago I paid a sentimental visit to the site of the course. The old clubhouse was still standing with someone living there. The last professional, named Jones, was killed in the war and, as I recall it, his widow was allowed by Geoffrey Summers to continue to live in the clubhouse, Whether she was still there in the sixties, I do not know. It was still possible, with a little imagination, to trace the course of some of the holes at that time.
Last year I decided to revisit the site to find that the area is now a huge industrial estate and it was quite impossible to make out where the course had been although there was still some land which had not been developed which may have been part of the course.
The club was actually located in Flintshire. When the club folded the Chester, Curzon Park Golf Club asked my father if there would be any objection to their taking the name “Chester Golf Club” I believe that my father spoke with some of the members and it was decided there could be no objection.”
Thanks to Ron Jones for the following information. In 1939 the Chester Golf Club clubhouse was used to store chests of tea. E.H. Jones, professional and green-keeper at the club in the late 1930s, was killed in 1942 in an aircraft crash while serving as a pilot officer in the R.A.F.
In the Golfer's Handbook for 1940 and 1947 it was still listed as an 18 hole course with a membership of 160 and SSS and Par of 73. Visitors’ fees on introduction were gents 2/6 a day, ladies 1/6. Weekends and Bank Holidays 3/6 a day. The station at Sealand now 15 minutes from the course. The handbook was probably not updated due to WW2.
The clubhouse was still standing in the 1960s and it was still possible at that time to trace parts of the course. Not possible nowadays as the area is now a large Industrial Estate.