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Gomshall Golf Club, Surrey. (1920s)

First appeared in Golfer's Handbook in the early 1920s when the secretary through to closure in the later 1920s was A G Forbes, Gravelpits, Gomshall. A 9-hole course. Visitors’ fees were 1/- half day, 2/- a day. The station at Gomshall SE&CR was 100 yards away.

It has been suggested that the following article by Bernard Darwin, for Country Life (April 30th 1927,) might refer to Gomshall.  Any information confirming or disproving this suggestion would be gratefully received.  The article is reproduced by kind permission of Dick Verinder, editor of ‘The Joyous Spirit of the Game’ (Dormy House Press, 2018).   

A Stolen Round

 

To put back the clock is as difficult in golf as in anything else, but now and again we may light upon a course so tranquil and rustic and unsophisticated as to remind us of the delicious golf of forty years ago. It was my good fortune to do this a few days since, and the experience was so refreshing to the spirits that I intend to set it down.

There is in a southern county - I will not be more precise — a certain pretty village near which I often stay. It is still pretty despite the fact that a road perpetually black with cars passes through it. We had always heard that there was a golf course, but we had never explored it. This was very unadventurous of us, because we could catch a glimpse of it from the station. It was at once a tantalizing and romantic glimpse, because we could never see anything beyond the crest of the green bank rising rather steeply in front of the station. There was also a big sandpit which might be a bunker on a tremendous scale. What happened at the top of the bank we never knew. There might be the most wonderful narrow, tortuous valleys ideal for golf. On the other hand, there might not, and we were rather encouraged in this last belief by the fact that no mortal golfer had ever been seen by us upon the course. We always hoped to see a lonely player taking out divots on the sky line, but it was not to be; the solitude of the course remained unbroken.

At length last week, having nothing else to do, we decided on a great exploring expedition. I should like to make it clear that we were not mere buccaneers; we really did try to do it all in legal form, and were even prepared to pay a green fee. We telephoned to the only one of our acquaintance who was alleged to have played on the course, but he was out. So there was nothing to do but to trust to luck. Finding in the village a small boy of intelligent appearance, we said to him, 'How do we get on to the G----- golf course?' They climbs over that there fence.' We looked round; there was not a soul to see us. So we, too, climbed over that there fence and rushed ‘with a wild surmise' up the green bank. 'Hurrah,' shouted the first bold Cortez to get to the top. 'Here's a flag. It is a golf course.' And there was a flag and, what was more, a green. It was not very large, being of the dimensions of a small room, and it produced the sensation of being in a room, because it was surrounded by stout posts and wire, but it was smooth and rolled and cut, and it had a hole in the middle of it. Close to it was a sand box and a teeing ground, and in the distance was another flag, another wire entanglement and a human figure inside it. Beyond it were trees; what lay beyond the trees we could not tell, so that we could still enjoy our old romantic wonderings.

We drove off towards the hole in the distance and found our balls in spite of the daisies. The human figure turned out to be that of a man smoking a pipe and mowing a green. Perhaps he would turn us out or at least demand a green fee. We put a bold face on it and played our approaches to the green. The man seemed to regard us with a very friendly interest. “Is this the right hole?” we asked; “we’ve never played here before.” He removed his pipe, scratched his head, and then, answered; “Most of 'em carries on over there,” pointing beyond the line of trees. So we carried on over there, and found another green, guarded on the left-hand side by a fine screen of gorse. Then we dropped down an exciting little path through some trees and were soon playing a really thrilling hole, with as good a tee shot as anyone could wish to see, narrow and winding, with rushes — real rushes — in front of the tee, a wood on the right and sentinel trees on theleft. Indeed, the only defect of the hole was that, owing to some roughness of lies, the second shot had almost inevitably to be played with the niblick. After that came a dramatic, blind short hole, with a tee shot over the face of a green precipice into a little angle under a hedge, and then a long hole took us back to the tranquil gentleman mowing. We had now played six holes and could not find any more. So again we asked him what to do. This time he was more puzzled than before, but finally remarked, 'Most of them goes down again to the hollow from here. They has to do that to make nine holes of it.' So that was it; there were but six greens and we could play them more or less as we pleased in order to turn them into nine. This we did and, whether or not our conception of the course was the orthodox one, it produced some excellent holes.

We found the approaching to be a distinct art. Except in rare instances it was of no use to pitch on to the greens, because the ball always ran over on the farther side. To play a running shot was to put an unjustified trust in Fortune, for the ground in front of the greens was slow and heavy and full of bumps. The perfect shot pitched just under the wire; in that case the ball ended near the hole and there was no reason why the putt should not be holed, for the greens reflected credit on the mowing gentleman. We played altogether some twelve holes, and enjoyed ourselves amazingly. For my part I only wish there was more such golf to be had in the world. It really was fun, and that one terrible tee shot was alone worth all the money - the money that we did not pay! When we had finished we climbed over the fence again and so home, feeling rather like burglars getting away with a good haul.

 

Gomshall Golf Club, Surrey. Golf course location.

Location of the Gomshall course. Grid reference TQ08775,48035, co-ordinates 508775,148035.

 

 

Gomshall Golf Club had disappeared by 1930.