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Lynton & Lynmouth Golf Club, Devon.

The club was founded in 1894.

In 1885 Colonel Benjamin Lake, a solicitor from Orpington in Kent, purchased land at Woody (formerly Wooda) Bay with the intention of developing the area as an exclusive holiday resort. He converted Martinhoe Manor House into a Hotel and in 1894 the golf course on Martinhoe Common was opened. Major investment was needed for the complex and due to unforeseen circumstances the project ran into financial difficulties. In 1900 Colonel Lake was forced into bankruptcy and was given a 12 year jail sentence. He died in 1907 and so did his Woody Bay dream.

The original course on Martinhoe Common was opened in May 1894 by Sir George Newnes, an entrepreneur, who contributed to the cost of the Martinhoe course as well as many other amenities in the Lynton & Lynmouth area. 

The course at Caffyns Downs opened in about 1909. Trains on the Lynton, Barnstaple Railway stopped within 5 minutes walk from the course. Golfers were requested to contact the guard for the Caffyns Halt stop. Local hotels were, the Valley of Rocks, Royal, Castle, Cottage, Imperial, The Tors, Lyndale, Lynwood.

In early 1909 Charles Gibson, the Westward Ho professional, surveyed the land at the Valley of Rocks with a view to laying out a course. A great many visitors complained that the course at Caffyns Down was too remote and that the train service was very limited. It was thought that a course at the Valley of Rocks would prove a great attraction.

Below is a report from the North Devon Journal from Thursday March 4th 1909 outlining the proposals for a golf course for Lyton and Lynmouth in the Valley of Rocks.

“A subject of great importance to the future of Lynton & Lynmouth was brought before the Urban District Council at a meeting held last Thursday, under the chairmanship of Mr E Hodges. A letter was read from Dr J Grant Warren, on behalf of those interested in the construction of golf links for Lynton & Lynmouth, stating that he would be glad to interview the Council on the question, as two fields belonging to the Council would be included in the links. The Council expressed willingness to hear Mr Warren at once. A lengthy consultation ensued.

Dr Warren said that twelve months ago, seeing Lynton had almost reached high water mark in other respect, the idea entered his head that something should be done in the neighbourhood to induce people to stay there. Having decided that it was possible to provide golf links, he laid a scheme for utilising the Valley of the Rocks for the purpose before some of the members of the Council, who received it very cordially. One of the number suggested that an expert should be called in, and he had, therefore, consulted Mr Charles Gibson, who was for 21 years professional at the Westward Ho Club. The latter had visited the Valley, and had since written stating that the ground would make a nice nine-hole links. The sporting character, the beautiful situation, and the fact that the links would be close to hand should make them a success. The ground would not need much alteration, as the putting greens and most of the teeing ground were already made, and, with only a few alterations, it would be possible to start golf very soon. He knew a great many visitors who would go to Lynton in their cars if links were conveniently near. The next thing was to secure a guarantee. A meeting was held with Sir George Newnes, who at first would not hear of the scheme, but some days afterwards after reading the expert’s report, he admitted himself to be much impressed by it, although he was of opinion that it would kill off the Caffyns Links. He had tried to do something for Lynton and Lynmouth but it would be nothing as compared with the benefits which would result from this scheme if it were carried out. He would, therefore, guarantee the whole thing. There were seven landlords and eight tenants over whose land the course would extend. Colonel Jeune owned more than half the property, and he was much impressed with the idea. He had offered the land on a 21 years’ lease, and had remarked that, in connection with the links, there would be created a large good-quality Club, with billiard tables and everything on a big scale to attract residents. If the scheme had been introduced before, he should never have left the town. The other owners and tenants had been, except the Council, been interviewed, and the land could be procured on fair grounds. It now remained for the Council to decide what it would do in the matter. The proposers of the links had suggested, for many reasons, there should be no Sunday play on the links – that could be obtained at Caffyns.

Mr C N Bevan remarked that a car-full of people came to his hotel one week-end to golf. On Monday morning, as there were no links (what about Caffyns?) they drove away to Burnham. This was but one case out of hundreds. Seven out of every twelve letters received by Hotel proprietors contained a postscript “How far of the links from your Hotel?”

The Chairman said the Local Government Board had informed him that the Council had power to support financially the construction of the golf links. As for the Council standing in the way of such an idea, he assured Dr Warren that the Council would give him every possible support  in forwarding it”   

The above report is confusing as it seems, at times, to dismiss the existence of the Caffyns course.  

In September 1911 at a meeting of the Lynton Urban District Council a letter was read from Sir Frank Newnes, Bart., stating that, as the prospect of his being able to come to Lynton very much in future was remote he did not feel disposed to incur further liability in regard to continuing the Golf Club. Therefore, as far as he was concerned at the close of the season he would end any responsibility in regard to it. He had been led to understand that the UDC might be able to continue with the upkeep of the club. The golf course was rented from Mr Bailey on a lease at £10 per annum. On expiry of the lease the pavilion would revert to Mr Bailey. He (Sir Frank) was quite prepared to hand over the lease and building to the UDC, subject, of course, to the consent of Mr Bailey.

The chairman expressed regret that Sir Frank was giving up the golf course. He suggested that they should convey the Council’s thanks to him for everything he had done for the sport in the district, and also thank him for his offer to the Council to take over the links. He suggested that a small committee should be put in place to check the financial position and other liabilities of the club. Several members spoke of the necessity of the Council acquiring the course, and it was eventually decided that a committee consisting of; Tom Jones, A W Gaydon and W Crook should look further into the matter.

The clerk was to write to Sir Frank Newnes thanking him for his letter, and to explain the Council’s decision.

A letter was received from Mr Bailey, owner of the course, saying he did not see his way to extend the present lease, but he would be prepared to grant another lease if the Council would take on another 16 acres at an additional rental of  £5 per annum, making £15 altogether.

The nine hole course layout -

Hole Yards Bogey
1 316 5
2 293 5
3 286 4
4 321 5
5 294 5
6 164 3
7 230 4
8 271 4
9 337 5
  2512 40

In 1914 listed as the Lynton Golf Club. Devon. The secretary was Charles W Penhale, Bank House, Lynton. The professional was G Bowden (1905 to 1930). There was no entry fee. The subs were £1/1/0. Visitors’ fees were 1/6 a day, 5/- a week, 8/- a fortnight and 12/6 a month. Sunday play was allowed without caddies.

In June 1919 it stated that the golf club wrote (presumably to the council) to take over the care of the links and be responsible for all the expenses of the upkeep. The offer was unanimously accepted. Lady Newnes wrote, on behalf of herself and Sir Frank Newnes, their thanks for the Council’s token on the anniversary of the late Sir George Newnes’s.

In May 1920 the agreement was signed and the links would now be taken over by W E Mawhood on behalf of the Golf Club. The conditions were to remain the same as when the Council had them, the Council now being released from all financial responsibility.

In 1923 it was appearing as the Lynton & Lynmouth Golf Club. The secretary was F W Le Tall, Oaklands, Lynton. There was a membership of 70. Course records were, amateur, Sir Frank Newnes 74, professional, G Bowden 75. Visitors' fees were 2/6 a day, 7/6 a week, 12/6 a fortnight and 21/- a month.

The Danger Cup, a bogey competition was played for annually. Following are the winners, and the years won; J R Blackmore, 1922, Mr C F Slann, 1923, Mr R J Bolsiger, 1924.

In October 1924 it was announced that the captain of the club, Colonel White would be presenting a trophy to be played for in the spring. Major Wilson was giving a cup to be played for over Xmas and Mrs Le Tall would present a prize for a mixed foursome competition.

In a brochure issued in the mid 1920s Mr F M White, a prolific novelist, and keen golfer, gives some interesting views on the Caffyn’s course “There on a fine summer’s day the view is magnificent, looking right away over to the Welsh coast on one hand, and the heathery slopes of Exmoor on the other. The air – to quote an eminent Harley Street specialist – is like champagne and brandy, and that, without any reaction afterwards. In the holiday season when the heather is in bloom the beauty of the panorama is quite unique. The pure and invigorating air makes golf a pleasure and delight, even on the hottest day for there is ever a breeze on Caffyns Down”

In January 1925 the competition for prizes given by Major Wilson were competed for, result; E J Willshere, 101 – 18 – 83, C H Bradbury, 108 – 23 – 85, J R Blackmore, 99 – 10 – 89.

In the clubs last year in 1940 the secretary was R H Lance Kivell. The professional and greenkeeper was F Sussex. The 9 hole course had a SSS of 70 and a membership of 80. Visitors' fees were 2/6 a round, 3/6 a day, 10/6 a week, 15/- a fortnight and 25/- a month.  No railway station now, but there was a bus stop 200yds from the clubhouse. Local  hotel the Rising Sun.

Lynton & Lynmouth Golf Club, Devon. The derelict clubhouse in 2004.

A view of the derelict Caffyns clubhouse, just about standing in 2004. Author's collection.

 

Lynton & Lynmouth Golf Club, Devon. The former clubhouse.

A second view of the derelict Caffyns clubhouse. Author's Collection.

 

Lynton & Lynmouth Golf Club, Devon. Location of the golf courses.

The later Caffyns course is marked to the east.

Grid reference SS69590, 47615, co-ordinates 269590, 147615.

The earlier course was on Martinhoe Common and is to the west.

Grid reference SS67895, 47640, co-ordinates 267895, 147640.

 

The Google Map below pinpoints the former Caffyns course.