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Needles Golf Club, Alum Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

Founded 1888 when the professional was C Newbery to 1898. Originally a 9-hole course extended to 18-holes in the 1900s. The course was situated on Needles Down 400ft above sea level with superb views of the Island. The course was playable all year with hazards consisting of gorse, ruts and artificial bunkers. There was a comfortable clubhouse for Ladies and gentlemen. There were stations at Totland Bay 1 ¼ miles and Freshwater 2 ¼ miles away. Local hotels were the Totland Bay and Alum Bay House.

The following is taken from The Golfing Annual 1888/9; "No Entrance Fee, Subs £1/1s; Visitors are admitted on payment of Five Shillings a month, but they can only compete for sweepstakes, not for club prizes; Number of members, 15; Captain - Major Playfair, R.A; Committee - Secretary, Captain Ruck, R.E, Colonel Owen, Colonel Pearson Crozier; Hon. Sec. A R C Connell, Tollands Bay; Custodian of Green, Mr F Tankard.

The club was founded by Mr Connell, but much valuable assistance was given by Major Playfair and Captain Ruck, the latter of whom surveyed the links, and made an excellent plan of them. The members of this club are hard at work preparing themselves for the Challenge Cup competition, which they hope will come off at Easter. Foremost among the beginners is Mr F Tankard who as accomplished the round of nine-holes in the fine score of 44; Captain Ruck, 54; Mr Murray, 56; Major Walford, 57; Mr Connell, 59; Colonel Owen and Mr F Grasham, 67 and Mr G Hodges, 72. This must be considered very satisfactory, as hardly one of these players had ever handled a club until last year. This serious work is occasionally lightened by humorous incidents which repeat themselves no doubt wherever the game is undertaken for the first time. The first course is "up the hill," an easy shot for one who can lift the ball, but fatal to beginners. One of our recruits having teed his ball ten times, at last gave it up in despair.

The few gentlemen who started the club took such a lofty view of the game, that it became necessary to pass a law "that no meeting of this club be held at a higher altitude than 300ft above sea level." The salutary effects of this law have been such that, after several changes, a definite course has been settled, and the penalties arranged. Certainly nobody could complain of an absence of hazards, which include a sloping down, gorse, heather, tussocks of grass, patches where the turf has been removed and which are generally full of chalk, stones, deep cart ruts where the niblick sometimes cannot be used, and in the last course a dangerous chalk pit. Added to all these, there is generally a hazard ubiquitous and common to every course - a strong wind." 

Golf was becoming more popular on this part of the Island and on Friday 17th October 1890 the half yearly competitions were played. The Crozier Cup was won, after a play off, by F Weiss Graham, 106-17-89 he had tied scores with H E Dawson, 116-27-89. The Connell Challenge Medal scores; C B Collins R.E, 87 scratch; G W Palmer, 92-3-89.

Below is the result of a match played on November 14th 1890 at Lyndhurst against the New Forest Golf Club.

New Forest Golf Club   Needles Golf Club  
Lieut de Crespigny R.N 0 C B Collins R.E 3
E Charlton 0 G W Palmer 0
Col W Pott 0 W Graham 3
Lieut Col J H Goldfinch R.N  3 R Puxley R.A 0
Rev H White 5 F Graham 0
Capt Maitland 3 Major Walford 0
Capt Aitchison  11 A Connel 0
Col A C Macleay 3 Capt Nelson 0
J Jeffreys 12 Capt Hoblyn 0
  37   6

Below is the result of an I.W Golf Union match was played at Freshwater in June 1898 against the Royal Isle of White Golf Club. 

Needles Golf Club   Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club  
F Tankard 0 F G Fisher +4
Dr C Hands 0 C D Knight 0
Mr Turner +1 Colonel Hamilton 0
Mr Vicars 0 E L Horsburgh +9
  1   13

It was reported in the Portsmouth Evening News in June 1904 that the Needles Golf Club had erected a new clubhouse at a cost of £900. The building was opened in the presence of Lord and Lady Tennyson and a large gathering of leading Island golf enthusiasts. During the afternoon Mrs Francis and Mr Collingwood won the mixed foursome bogey competition.

The following is taken from the 1905 Nisbet's Golf Yearbook; Number of members 110; Hon. Sec., Dr C H Hands; Captain, O J Trinder; Entrance Fee £1/1s and Subs £1/11s/6d; Nine-holes; Professional E Newbery; Professional record - E Newbery, 74; Amateur record - C C Makins, 80; Visitors, 2s/6d a day, 10s a week, 15s a fortnight and 20s a month. The links are situated on the Needles Down, affording magnificent views of the south coast of the Isle of Wight, and of the Solent. The length of the course is 2,710 yards. The grass through the green is short, and water runs away easily, and the course is never very wet in winter. Hazards consist of gorse, ruts, a chalk pit and artificial bunkers, and the greens are good. There is an excellent new clubhouse for ladies and gentlemen.   

  Secretary Professional/Greenkeeper
1888-98   C Newbery (p)
1902-14 Dr C H Hands of Glendalough, Totland Bay, IOW.  
1920-47 Mrs Newnham of Alum Bay.  
1898-1932   E P Newbery (p&g)
1932-47   G E Mann (p&g)

In 1906 the course records were, amateur A A Trinder, 78 and professional E Newbery, 74. Visitors’ fees were 2/6 a day, 10/- a week, 15/- a fortnight and 20/- a month. Monthly family tickets, not less than 3 persons at 15/- each person.

Also in 1906 was the Needles Ladies’ Golf Club who played over the same course, from different tees. The Secretary was Mrs M L Wilkinson, Keracwold, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight.

Results from three competitions played in November 1909. The November Sweepstake was won by Dr C H Hands, 99-9-90; the Crozier Cup  won by W H Fairbrother (14), 7down to bogey; the Connell Medal won by J Dover, 95-12-83.

In September 1912 Mr Wyatt (11) beat P Moreland (18) in the final of the Kidd Cup. For the Collingwood Prize (36 hole bogey) J A W Williams beat H Oswell (both 2down) in a play-off.

In January 1913 the Sealy Bowl was won by J Dover, 95-12-83. The Ward Cup won by W G Wilson (6), 2down.

In January 1914 the Sealy Bowl winner was W G Wilson, 94-6-88. The Ward Cup was won by J Dover (12), 5down. January Sweepstake winner H Oswell, 91-13-78.

In June 1914, in recognition of his twelve year service to the club, Dr C H Hands of Totland Bay, was presented by the members with a cheque for £50 to purchase a motor cycle. 

In 1914 the club had a membership of 142. The entry fee was £1/1/0 and subs £1/11/6. Visitors’ fees were as 1906. Sunday play was allowed without caddies.

 

Needles Golf Club, Isle of Wight. The golf links and Downs.

The Downs and Golf Links (&Tennyson's Monument). Postcards by Marfleet of Totland.

 

Needles Golf Club, Isle of Wight. The golf links.

Needles Golf Links.

 

At the annual meeting held in April 1921 E B Wethered was elected captain and W H Trinder match captain. After many years loyal service to the club Mr C H Hands was to step aside as secretary. He was replaced by A H Newnham.

In 1923 the membership had reduced to 80. Course records, amateur, A A Trinder 73, and professional E Newbery, 73.

On Tuesday 12th August 1924 Harold Newbery, son of E P Newbery (Needles professional), set a new course record of 68 (35 out and 33 home). This beat the previous record held by his brother P Newbery (professional at Bognor Regis) by one stroke. The bogey for the course was 77.

From 1928 to the clubs closure at the time of WW2 the 18-hole course had a SSS and Par of 72. Course records were, amateur, Major Hornby 67 and professional H Newbery, 66. Visitors’ fees for gents were 2/6 a round, 3/6 a day, 15/- a week, 30/- a fortnight and 40/- a month. Ladies 2/6, 3/-, 12/-, 21/-, 30/-.

Course history and description from the 1920s. “The Needles was the second club to be instituted on the Isle of Wight. Mr E Granville Ward of the Manor House, the clubs landlord, became its President. The original members were thirty six in number and the subscription was 10/-. The turf  on the Needles Down was admirably suited to all golfing requirements, while for hazards there was gorse and a disused chalk pit, so that the addition of a few artificial bunkers made the course a very playable one without much expenditure. The President asked only a nominal rent. The club was fortunate in obtaining the services of E P Newbery, then a boy of 15, as its future professional, a position he still holds, and he his well known as an expert coach. The first clubhouse was a small shed in the Alum Bay House Garden; the next move was to rooms in a disused cottage on the same premises, and, in 1895, the club began to launch out. £800 was raised, partly by debentures and partly by donations, and the commodious clubhouse and residence for the professional was erected. Up to 1907 the course was only a nine hole one. When in that year a new lease was granted to the club with the sole reservation “no disfigurement of the downs” the existing 18 hole course was laid out, and the only alteration in it for the past twenty years has been in the order of the holes, this being necessary to prevent congestion. The club is indebted very largely to Mr John Dover and to Dr Hands both of whom held the post of Honorary Secretary for many years. The course looks easy at first, yet it is none to easy; many are the pitfalls for the ball which is not straight. The bogey is 75, length 5,710yds”

Card of the course -

Hole Yards Bogey Hole Yards Bogey
1 230 4 10 300 4
2 440 5 11 285 4
3 465 5 12 240 3
4 295 4 13 105 3
5 410 5 14 180 3
6 245 4 15 250 4
7 215 3 16 405 5
8 440 5 17 275 4
9 420 5 18 510 5

 

A couple of competitions played in April/May 1930; Connell Medal won by G C Wathen and the Aman Cup (one club competition) won by R J Lloyd-Price.

After six weeks illness and several operations the sad death of Wilfred Newbery (23) took place on Monday 29th September 1930. He was the youngest son of the late E P Newbery, who had been professional at the club for over forty years. Wilfred had succeeded his father at the Needles and was a very promising young player.

In February 1931 G E Mann, of Hastings, and formerly of the Colombo Club, Ceylon, was appointed professional.

There were 42 entries for the Isle of Wight Golfers’ Alliance championship held over the Needles links on Sunday 20th June 1937. There was a tie for first place between I R Patey and J Bull (Ryde) and A W Gordon and F Matthews (Sandown Artisans). Mr Aman of the Needles club presented the prizes to the winners.  

The Isle of Wight golfers’ Alliance championship was played at the Needles in June 1939. R D White, member at the Needles scored 163 (85+78). The winning score was 152. 

 

Needles Golf Club, Isle of Wight. The fourteenth hole 1930s.

A view of the fourteenth hole at the Needles taken in the 1930s.

 

Needles Golf Club, Isle of Wight. The twelfth green.

Putting out on the 12th green, “Punch Bowl” the first green is to the left. Distant view over Totland towards Southampton  Water.

 

Needles Golf Club, Isle of Wight. Location of the former course.

Location of the Needles course.

 

Needles golf course layout

Course layout.

 

Dudley White's Newberry putter

Dudley White's Newbery putter.

Thanks to Dudley White of Caterham in 2004 for his memories of  Needles Golf Club -

“I used to play there when I was about eleven years old in about 1937 it ceased to function I think in 1939 and has not opened again. I spent a holiday back in Totland a few years ago and enjoyed myself walking west from Tennysons Monument to the old Coastguard Houses near the Needles. I was surprised to find that the outlines of many tees and greens were still visible and as it is on chalk and sheep have grazed on it it’s relatively clear. The clubhouse is still there but appeared to be a private dwelling. It is situated at the junction of the main roads from Freshwater to Alum Bay and Totland to Alum Bay. My father was Cashier in Charge of Lloyds Bank at Totland and treasurer of the golf club. I remember that he had a friend who was the local builder but he could not get him to be elected as a member because he came into the category of Tradesman, I don’t know how many times he submitted his name but he managed it in the end! I recently came across my old putter made by E P Newbery with his name imprinted on the back (I attach my first ever attempt at brass rubbing, you may be able to see E P Newbery, Alum Bay I.W) Newbery had moved on when I played there and I had two lessons from his successor G E Mann. The only time I met Newbery was at a News Chronicle Tournament at Hastings (or near there) when he was on the touring circuit. I remember we watched Alf Padgham and, I think, Henry Cotton but remember more clearly the sensation caused by Poppy Wingate who was the only lady playing. My mother was horrified that she was wearing trousers instead of a skirt! ”