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Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. (1893 - 2019)

The Royal Norwich Golf Club was formed on 8 November 1893.

The Duke of York (the future King George V) became patron of the club; Queen Victoria bestowed the royal title on the club.

Professionals at Royal Norwich from 1893 to WW2; Richard Kelly (1893-1900); James Kinnell (1900-1903); Ernest H Risborough (1903-1907); A E Bellworthy (1907-1914); Roy Alex Donald (1914-1938.)

It was announced in 2017 that planning permission had been granted and the club would be selling its Drayton High Road, Hellesdon, course for housing development. The money the club raised from the sale of its course would be used to buy Weston Park. The former Weston Park Golf Club course (founded in 1993) would be reconstructed.  

The Royal Norwich Golf Club moved to its new location and the course opened in September 2019.

Extract from a report that appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 11 November 1893 – “Formation of a Golf Club at Norwich – A largely attended meeting was held at the Guildhall, on Wednesday afternoon, to consider the desirability of a golf club for Norwich. The Mayor (Mr A R Chamberlin) presided, supported by the sheriff (Mr Russell Colman,) the Deputy Mayor (Mr G M Chamberlin,) J J Colman, M.P., H S Patteson, Lieut-Col. Bignold, C R Gilman, Col. Dawson, and numerous others. Mr J J W Deuchar, on behalf of the committee, had carefully been over the ground at Hellesdon and sketched out a very hopeful 18-hole course.”

Letter to the Eastern Daily Press in November 1893.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Letter to the Eastern Daily Press November 1893.

Eastern Daily Press Wednesday 29 November 1893. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

It was reported on 11 December 1893 that the nine-hole course was ready for play and that the full 18-hole course should be completed shortly. Terms for original members; Entrance Fee, £1/1shilling and Subs £1/1shilling.

Description of the course from "Golf" in January 1894.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesden Course. Description of the course from "Golf" in January 1894.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesden Course. Description of the course from "Golf" in January 1894.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesden Course. Description of the course from "Golf" in January 1894.

"Golf" Friday 12 January 1894. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Below is a report on the opening on the opening of the 18-hole course in February 1894.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the opening of the 18-hole course in February 1894.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the opening of the 18-hole course in February 1894.

From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 10 February 1894. Image © Illustrated London News Group.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Beranard Sayers playing from "Hades" in February 1894.

Sayers playing from the hazard known as “Hades.”

 

The image above and the following article are from an unknown publication dated February 1894. “The Royal Norwich Golf Club was only founded last November, but, thanks to the wonderful energy of its executive committee, it is now provided with links that will compare favourably with any in the South, even with those at Sandwich. The committee had arranged an exhibition match between two famous professionals, Douglas Rolland of Limpsfield and Bernard Sayers of North Berwick. The round was excellently contested from start to finish; Sayers took 86 to Rollands 84.”

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. The clubhouse from 1894 to 1964.

The clubhouse from 1894 to 1964.

 

Result of a match against Waveney Valley Golf Club played in September 1895.

Royal Norwich Golf Club   Waveney Valley Golf Club  
J J W Deuchar (2up) 1 W Whytock 0
T Ireland (4&3) 1 F J McLaughlin 0
C H A Lock (8&7) 1 F Page Roberts 0
F Jewson (5&4) 1 E J Hunt 0
D Walker (3&2) 1 A J Saville 0
R Jewson (3&1) 1 W T Hartcup 0
J B Mannall (5&4) 1 H B Whetstone 0
  7   0

In November 1900 a match was played at Hellesdon between James Braid (Romford) and R Kelly, the local professional, for a purse subscribed by the members. Braid won the match by 8 and 7.

James Kinnell (below) was professional at Royal Norwich from 1900 to 1903. Prior to WW1 he had moved to Purley Downs Golf Club. During WW1 James Kinnell served in the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and was killed in action on the 22nd April 1918 aged 42.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Picture of James Kinnell the professional at Royal Norwich from 1900 to 1903.

From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 28th September 1901. Image © Illustrated London News Group.

 

Entry from the 1905 Nisbet’s Golf Yearbook; Royal Norwich Golf Club; Instituted 1893; Membership of 400; Station at Hellesdon; hon. secretary – Campbell Steward, King Street House, Norwich; captain, M Crick; Entrance fee £2/2s and Subs. £1/11s /6d; professional, Ernest Risboro; Midsummer Meeting 1904, Scratch Medal won by T M Crick, 86; terms for visitors 2s/6d a day. The course is about half mile from Hellesdon Station. It is situated on rising ground, and the turf is chiefly old and natural, and the hazards are sand and gorse.

Also listed in 1905 was the Royal Norwich Ladies’ Golf Club; Instituted 1893; Membership of 80; Hon. secretary – Miss M Cozens-Hardy, Oak Lodge, Sprowston; Captain, Miss V M Barwell; Entrance fee nil and Subs £1/1s; Professional, Ernest Risboro; 18-hole gentlemen’s course with six shortened tees; amateur record gentlemen’s course, Mrs Bagnall-Oakley, 93; ladies’ course, Miss Cozens-Hardy, 90; terms for visitors, 2s/6d a day, 5s a week, 10s a month. The course is the same as the gentlemen’s with the exception of shortened tees at six-holes. The length is 5,120 yards.

Below is the result of a match played against Blickling Golf Club (now defunct) in May 1905. 

Royal Norwich Golf Club   Blickling Golf Club  
M Crick (captain) 1 Rev. A E Black (captain) 0
C H A Lock 0 F C Williamson 1
R Jewson 0 C H Gidney 1
A C Watson 1 J H Mannall 0
A Finch 1 H J Gidney 0
Col. A C Dawson 1 H Page 0
R J Boyce 1 H M Thompson 0
  5   2

 Ernest H Risboro, professional from 1903 to 1907.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Picture of Ernest H Risboro, the professional at Royal Norwich from 1903 to 1907.

From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 11th November 1905. Image © Illustrated London News Group.

 

The annual meeting and prize presentation was held at the Maid's Head Hotel in February 1906, M Crick (captain) presided. A presentation was also made to the hon. secretary, Mr Campbell Steward. The plinth on the silver rose bowl had the following inscription "Presented to Campbell Steward Esquire, by the members of the Royal Norwich Golf Club in recognition of his valuable services as hon. secretary from its inception in the year 1893 to the present time, February 1906."  

Result of a match against Woodbridge Golf Club played in May 1910.

Royal Norwich Golf Club   Woodbridge Golf Club  
M A Crick (+2) 1 Capt. Hambro (+2) 0
B K Wilson (+1) 1 Capt. Balfour (scr)  0
A C Watson (+1) (halved) 0 F E R Fryer (scr) (halved) 0
L Barratt (scr) 0 B A Collins (scr) 1
R S Mason (2) 0 S O Heywood (2) 1
A B Rudd (2) 0 D G Bett (3) 1
G Barratt (2) 0 Capt. Halford (5) 1
C Pearce (5) 1 G H Grant (6) 0
H R Fletcher (5) 1 F Phillips (6) 0
F A Bainbridge (6) (halved) 0 N A Heywood (6) (halved) 0
F A Jackson (8) 1 A J Hayward (9) 0
R G Steward (9) 1 J A Berners (10) 0
  6   4

In September 1910 a 36-hole exhibition match was played between George Duncan (Hanger Hill) and A Bellworthy (Royal Norwich.) Duncan beat the local professional by 6 and 5.)    

Harry Vardon and Arthur Havers at Royal Norwich in 1902.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Harry Vardon and Arthur Havers at Royal Norwich in 1902.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Harry Vardon and Arthur Havers at Royal Norwich in 1902.

From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 8 October 1921. Image © Illustrated London News Group.

 

It was reported in March 1924 that the club had purchased the land from Mr Deuchar, and further land adjoining the late 17th hole had been bought from Mr Gurney. The scheme for the improvement of the course had been rapidly pushed forward. Jack Fulcher, green-keeper, and his staff had done splendid work during a difficult winter. The club membership was 360 which included 78 ladies and 31 juniors.

The monthly spoon competition was played on the “new course” in May 1924 and resulted in a tie between J H Jewson and J W Howlett all square.

Result of the Gurney Buxton Challenge Cup played in June 1924; F A Bainbridge, 87-9-78; W H Meiklem, 82-3-79; A B Floyd, 84-5-79; A C Deuchar, 84-5-79.

Report on the history of the club and the new James Braid course in July 1925. The Braid layout remained virtually unchanged until the closure of the course in 2019.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the history and the James Briaid course in 1925

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the history and the James Braid course in 1925

Yarmouth Independent Saturday 11 July 1925.

 

Result of the spoon competition played in March 1926; R Rothwell, 2 down; W B Rudd, W R Gurley, F A Bainbridge and H E Williams, 3 down.

The following officers were elected at the annual meeting in March 1927; President, F A Bainbridge; captain, E W Cozens-Hardy; auditor, H Harper Smith; treasurer, Mr Buxton. The outgoing captain Mr Neville Howlett had presented a motor tractor to commemorate his year of office. J Walter Bunting, former captain, and E W Everett had each donated a cup for competition.

From the 1933 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership of 430; secretary, R Rothwell; professional, Roy Donald; green-keeper, Jack Fulcher; course records – amateur; Capt. W H B Mirrlees, 73; professional; Roy Donald, 69; visitors’ fees on introduction; 3 shillings a round, 5s a day, 15s a week.

Result of a foursome match played at Caister in June 1934.

Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club   Royal Norwich Golf Club  
W D Robinson and T R D Gee  (2&1) 1 F A Brett and A C Hepburn 0
G M Stuart and C F Parsons (2&1) 1 J H Jewson and H R Master 0
H S Alexander and N Mackay 0 H C Master and D H Master (1up) 1
F E Whitfield and Dr. J V Morris (5&4) 1 1 J W Howlett and H R Fletcher 0
A Miller and Q Gold (4&2) 1 F R McBride and Dr. G L Leggat 0
  4   1

At the annual meeting in April 1935 the president, F A Bainbridge, proposed a vote of thanks to Jack Fulcher for all the good work he had done as green-keeper for 35 years and said he had been a splendid servant to the club. He gave his heart and soul to the interest and welfare of the club. They were all sorry that Mr Fulcher through ill health had to give up his work. E W Cozens-Hardy seconded the motion, which was carried.

Report on the annual meeting in March 1937.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the annual meeting in March 1937.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Report on the annual meeting in March 1937.

Yarmouth Independent Saturday 27 March 1937.

 

In April 1937 the Royal Norwich club travelled to Caister to play a foursomes match against the Great Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club, the visitors being successful, Royal Norwich team; A F Arnold and E S J Taylor; T Conway and A P Lincoln; C G Tyce and A C Cooke; J H Chapman and G W Carter.

A credit balance of £20 was shown by the auditor, H Harper Smith, at the annual meeting held in April 1938. Subscriptions were slightly down at £1,550 compared with £1,599 the previous year. The membership was 406 – 274 men, 108 ladies and 24 juniors. S Moore was elected to succeed H M Thurgar as captain; Miss P Bullard, ladies’ captain.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Ladies' scorecard dated 1938.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Ladies' scorecard dated 1938.

Ladies scorecard from 1938. Courtesy of Christoph Meister.

 

The course escaped any serious damage during the Second World War but the club, as with many others, struggled financially.

From the 1947 - 1960 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership of 263; secretary, D A Turpin; professional, George Kelly; green-keeper, H Barrett; course records – amateur; F A Brett, 70; professional; R Donald, 69; 18-holes, SSS 75; visitors’ fees on introduction; 5 shillings a round, 7s/6d a day, £1 a week.

In March 1948 Mr D P Fagan holed-in-one at the 129 yard fifth hole.

From the 1961 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership of 258; secretary, D A Turpin; professional, George Kely; green-keeper, H Barrett; course records - amateur; *Arthur H Perowne, 68; professional – R A Knight and C H Ward, 69; 18-holes, 6,467 yards, Par 74, SSS 73; visitors’ fees on introduction, 5s per round, 7s/6d a day, 27s/6d a week; 52s/6d a month. * Arthur Perowne represented Great Britain in the Walker Cup on three occasions.

1964 – 1966 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership of 300; secretary, Major A E Grant, M.B.E; professional, George Kelly; green-keeper, H Banham.

The Martini International Professional Tournament was played on the Royal Norwich course in June 1971. Reading golfer John Hudson performed a rare event scoring two successive holes-in-one during the second round. He holed a four-iron at the 195 yard eleventh and then, using a driver, holed out at the downhill 311 yard twelfth scoring an albatross. Hudson scored 72 in the first two rounds and eventually finished with a total of 287, five strokes behind the winner, Bernard Gallacher.

Golfer’s Handbook 1972; Membership of 350; secretary, Col. T H Reed; professional, George Kelly; 18-holes, 6,538 yards, SSS 71; visitors’ fees, £1 weekdays, (£2 weekend.)

Golfer’s Handbook 1975; Membership of 650; secretary, G M Joslin; professional, Barrry Lockwood; 18-hloes, 6,512 yards, SSS 71; course records – amateur; J A Crawford, 68; professional; H J Boyle, 66; visitors, £2 (£3.)

In the early and mid 1980s the club had amembership of 760; secretary, D F Cottier; professional, Barry Lockwood.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Scorecard from the 1980s.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Scorecard from the 1980s.

Scorecard from the 1980s. Courtesy of Christoph Meister.

 

In the late 1980s early 1990s the club had a membership of 780; secretary, D F Cottier; professional, B Lockwood; 18-holes, 6,603 yards, SSS 72; visitors, £13 (1988) £22 (1991.)

In the late 1990s/2000s the professional was Dean Futter.

From the Golfer’s Handbook 2006; Membership of 650; manager, J Meggy; professional, S Youd; 18-holes, Par and SSS 72.

In 2014 the general manager was Phil Grice.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Later scorecard from the Hellesden Course.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Later scorecard for the Hellesden course.

Later scorecard for the Hellesdon course.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Pictures of the former Hellesdon golf course.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Pictures of the former Hellesdon golf course.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesdon Course, Norwich. Pictures of the former Hellesdon golf course.

Pictures of the former Hellesdon golf course.

 

The Hellesdon clubhouse under demolition in April 2021.

 

Royal Norwich Golf Club, Hellesden Course. Demolition under way on the Hellesden clubhouse in April 2021.

Picture courtesy of Chris Weston.