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Torquay and St Marychurch Golf Club, Walls Hill, Devon. (1882 - 1936)

The club was founded in 1882.

A 9-hole course with fine views, it was delightfully situated at Walls Hill on Babbacombe Downs overlooking the sea. Hazards consisted of a quarry, furze, stone walls, bunkers etc. In the early years it was known as either Torquay & St Marychurch or Babbacombe Golf Club. The clubhouse was situated at 1 Haredown Terrace, Babbacombe which was close to the ninth green. There were railway stations at Torre 1 ½ miles and Torquay 2 miles away. There was also a tram service every 10 minutes from Torquay and every 15 minutes from Torre, all trams passed the club.

 

Torquay Golf Club, Walls Hill, Devon. Anstey's Cove from the golf course.

Anstey’s Cove from the golf course.

 

Below is the result of a match played against Exmouth on the Babbacombe links on Thursday 10th March 1887.

Torquay Golf Club   Exmouth Golf Club  
Mr Deniston 4 Rev C Carr 0
Mr Horner 0 Mr Drysdale 7
Mr Clark 0 Mr Lowrie R.N 5
Mr Kane 0 Capt Hemphill 1
General Saunders 5 General Tod Brown R.N 0
Mr Holdsworth 5 Colonel Cox 0
  14   13

 

Torquay and St Marychurch Golf Club. Entry from the Golfing Annual 1888/89.

 

Torquay and St Marychurch Golf Club. Entry from the Golfing Annual 1888/89.

Above is the entry from the Golfing Annual 1888/89.

 

In March 1890 a Ladies Golf Club was started at Torquay, Miss Saunders was captain and Miss McDouall secretary.

Result of a club match played against Exmouth Golf Club on the Walls Hill course on Thursday 12th February 1891 in splendid weather. Exmouth won the match thanks mainly to the performance of Mr Dunsford who recorded an 18 hole score of 86. The previous best score in competition on the Torquay course was 97.

Torquay Golf Club   Exmouth Golf Club  
General Saunders 1 Rev M Carr 0
Captain Livingstone 0 Mr Dunsford 11
Mr Dykes 4 Mr H A Upton 0
Mr Fowler 4 Mr Pine-Coffin 0
Mr Lucy 0 Mr Cripps 5
Mr Norris 0 Captain Hemphill 4
  9   20

The secretary in 1893 was W E Norris, he wrote 14 novels, the first called “Heaps of Money” He played golf most mornings and did his writing in the afternoon.

Card of the course in the early 1900s -

Hole Yards Bogey
1 240 4
2 365 5
3 196 4
4 280 5
5 100 3
6 280 5
7 270 4
8 280 4
9 220 4

Total  length, 2,231 yards, bogey 37. The course record at the time was 69.

  Secretary Professional/greenkeeper
1908-28   W H Richards (p)
1914-26 A Mylrea, Westholme, Babbacombe, Torquay.  
1927 A Hill  
1928-30s H Crawford, "Hallowdene" Babbacombe Road, Torquay. E J Furse (p&g)
1936 E Davis, The Nest, Barnton Hill, Torquay. E J Furse (p&g)

 

From the 1905 Nisbet's Golf Yearbook; Torquay & St. Marychurch Golf Club; Instituted 1882; Membership of 95; Hon. secretary - F Cobbett, Ye Reddeclyffe, St Marychurch; Captain, W E Norris; Entrance fee, £1/1s and subs £2/2s; Nine-holes; Professional, C Hope; Course records; Professional - W H Richards, 70; Amateur - G H Hardie, 70; Terms for visitors, 5 shillings a week, 17s/6d a month. The course is on Babbacombe Downs, overlooking the sea.

Also listed was the Torquay Ladies' Golf Club; Instituted 1890; Membership of 55; Hon. secretary - Miss G Livingston, Edenhurst, Torquay; Captain, Miss P Collett; Entrance fee, 10 shillings and subs, 10s/6d; Ladies' course record; Miss P Collett, 84 (18-holes) and 41 (9-holes); Visitors, 1 shilling a day, 2s/6d a week, 5s a month. The club plays on the men's course. 

It was reported in the Torquay Times in February 1909 that "A professional golf player had visited the Torquay Racecourse and after inspection expressed the opinion that there are no difficulties in the way of it being made into a thoroughly good 18-hole course."

Just prior to WW1 there was a membership of 140. Entry fees were £1/1/0 and subs £2/2/0. Visitors’ fees were 2/- a day, 7/6 a week and 25/- a month. Sunday play was not allowed.

Following WW1 and in to the mid 1920s club membership had increased to165. Course records were, amateur, C V L Hooman 68 and Professional W H Richards 66. Visitors were required to be members of recognised clubs, fees were, 2/6 a day, 10/6 a week and 30/- a month.

Below is the result of the Still Golf Cup, a ladies team competition, played at Walls Hill against Churston in January 1924.

Torquay   Churston  
Miss D Willes Little 0 Miss Hingston (19th) 1
Miss Lloyd Williams 0 Miss Bradford (5&4) 1
Mrs Willes Little (2&1) 1 Hon. A Yarde Buller 0
Miss Swash 0 Miss Coppin (6&5) 1
Miss Sanders 0 Miss Sands (3&2) 1
Miss F M W Little (4&3) 1 Mrs Smyth 0
Miss G C Wright (3&2) 1 Mrs Sparkes 0
  3   4

 Below, result of a Ladies versus Gentlemen match played at Walls Hill on Friday 25 January 1924.

Ladies   Gentlemen  
Miss D Willes Little 0 E J Roe (5&3) 1
Miss Lloyd Williams 0 J F Willes Little (6&4) 1
Mrs Willes Little 0 A Annesley (2&1) 1
Miss Swash (2&1) 1 H G Cumming 0
Miss Sanders (half) 0 T S Talbot (half) 0
Miss Bolkow (half) 0 R Noble Acutt (half) 0
Miss M W Little 0 A Mylrea (2&1) 1
Miss Wright (half) 0 H Crawford (half) 0
Mrs Eales 0 C H Partridge (2up) 1
Miss Greame (1up) 1 A Hill 0
Miss Kerr 0 Brig-Gen M C Curry (7&6) 1
Mrs Staveley 0 E W Wortabet (7&6) 1
  2   7

 

In 1928 to the mid 1930s  membership had decreased to about 90.

During the 1930s the course was experiencing problems with youngsters playing football and cricket on the greens, and the once pristine course began to suffer. The council arranged for a warden to patrol, but things did not improve and the members became more frustrated with the condition of the course. The club agreed to a further condition, that golf could only be played in the mornings at weekends during July and August. This probably proved to be the last straw, in March 1936 it was given six months notice to quit to take effect in early September.

Result of the ladies monthly medal played in January 1935; Mrs Hann, 108-30-78; Miss Lloyd Williams, 99-15-84; Miss C C Wright, 118-25-93; Mrs MacTaggart, 139-36-103.

In the club's last year in 1936 the 9 holes had a SSS and Par of 70. Ironically, there was now a licensed clubhouse.

C V L Hooman, the amateur course record holder at Torquay in the 1920s played off + 3 and represented England when they beat Scotland in about 1909. He also played cricket and was captain of the Oxford University team in 1909.

 

Torquay Golf Club, Walls Hill. Late golf course?

Sign on the site of the former Torquay Golf Club. Note the ironic point on the bottom line “No Golf”. Author's Collection.

 

Torquay Golf Club, Walls Hill. The golf course in 2003.

Above Babbacombe from Walls Hill (2003)

 

Torquay Golf Club, Walls Hill. Early postcard of Babbacombe from Walls Hill.

Above Babbacombe from Walls Hill (Postcard 1900s)

 

Torquay Golf Club, Walls Hill. Features of the golf course in 2003.

On close inspection many features can still be made out on the former course. Pictures taken in 2003. Authors Collection.

 

Torquay Golf Club. Location of the former Walls Hill golf course.

Location of the former course on Walls Hill.

Grid reference SX93320, 65155, co-ordinates 293320, 065155.