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Southampton Golf Club, The Cowherds. (1875 - 1922)

Founded in 1875. 

Golf was first played on The Common in the 1870s and continued until the 1920s.  The Cowherds was an Inn and was used by golfers as a "clubhouse" and meeting place. 

Following are extracts from articles that appeared in the Hampshire Advertiser and show that golf was being played on the Common before the clubs foundation date above.

Saturday 1st November 1873 - "Arrived here on Monday last direct from St Andrew's, on my way to India, and having some spare time on my hands, I took the opportunity of taking a ramble over your beautiful Common, which makes the northern approach to the city one of the finest in Europe. To my intense surprise and delight I encountered two gentlemen engaged in playing golf, that most interesting and fascinating game, recently confined to Scotland and Blackheath, but now introduced to other places in England. I entered into conversation with the golfers, and they informed me that they had hopes of establishing a club here, and that anyone wishing for information on the subject would obtain it from Critchfield's Inn on the Common."  

Saturday 10th October  1874 - "Those interested in golf will be glad to learn that it has been started in Southampton. If this celebrated game fairly takes root and flourishes here it will prove to be a great advantage to the town." 

Following is a brilliant report, again, from the Hampshire Advertiser. dated Saturday 24th June 1876, a great record of golf, and of reporting at that time. 

"For two or three years past the frequenters of our beautiful Common may have been exercised in mind at the vagaries of certain grave looking gentlemen, who, armed with heavy clubs of curious shape appear to be much concerned in the driving in a particular direction of certain small white balls; followed by an attendant bearing reinforcements of the said curious clubs. For the information of any such ramblers on the Common, and possibly for their reassuring, we may state that the apparently eccentric beings whose strange actions they may have watched with terror are not escaped lunatics, but a small, though persevering band of golfers, who have introduced and continue to play the Royal game upon the Southampton Common. The annual prize day was held on Thursday last, when there were twelve entries for the handicap prize, and the course was twice round the links of fifteen holes. The winner proved to be Mr W Buchan Hepburn who received an allowance of ten strokes on each round of fifteen holes, or twenty strokes in the thirty holes."

Scores as follows:-

Name 1st round 2nd round H'cap  Total
Mr W Buchan Hepburn 92 85 20 157
Dr Langstaff 98 91 30 159
Captain Bradby 93 93 24 162
Mr F H McCalmont 104 92 30 166
Mr R B Mansfield 86 81 scratch 167
Mr H Bradby 87 82 scratch 169
The Hon. Colonel Annesley 96 93 15 174
Captain Poynder R.N 89 102 15 176
Mr W Wynward 86 91 scratch 177
Mr B W Greenfield 106 111 30 187
Colonel Fortescue R.A 92 97 scratch 189
Mr A L McCalmont J.P 103 117 30 190

"The ground was in excellent order, and play throughout good, showing a great improvement upon that of last year. The scratch players were in one or two cases, perhaps too heavily handicapped, as none of them succeeded in getiing nearer than fifth. Next year we hope to see a larger entry for the handicap, and meanwhile wish every success to Southampton Golf Club."

The annual handicap was held on the Common in July 1880, a report goes on - "Owing to the very doubtful state of the weather, there was not so many entries as usual. The play was not particularly good, and there is nothing worthy of mention, unless it is the excellent driving of Captain Scott, and the marvellous improvement in Mr Greenfield's play, who from the rear rank has advanced, and is now able to hold his own with the best. Colonel Fortescue (15 strokes allowance) was winner with 188-15-173; Captain Scott was second with 174. The rest were nowhere."

Below is the result of a match played at Southampton against the United Services Golf Club, Haslar, (also now defunct) in November 1895.

Southampton Golf Club   United Services Golf Club  
Captain Corse-Scott 0 Captain Dumbleton R.E 4
H Bradby 2 Dr R Reid R.N 0
Colonel Johnston R.E 1 Colonel Walker 0
Rev H Harvey 0 Colonel Crockenden R.N 10
Dr Powell 0 Commander Payne R.N 2
J F Wharton 0 Lieutenant Bethune R.N 6
P Buckley 10 Major Nelson R.A 0
  13   22


Southampton Golf Club. The Cowherds Inn possible home of the club.

An early postcard of The Cowherds Inn, Southampton Common, "home" of the early Southampton golfers.


Southampton Golf Club, The Cowherds. Club button.

Southampton Golf Club button. 


In 1902 the secretary was Major R W Heathcote, Cavendish Grove, Southampton.  A 9 hole course. Amateur record holder was Captain A C Scott 37. The railway station was 2 miles away.

Also in 1902 was Southampton Ladies Golf Club. The secretary was Miss V Farmer.

Local hotel was Highfield Mansion a private hotel which was situated on the golf grounds.

The club was re-formed in 1903. This is confirmed in the report below from the Southern Echo Wednesday 15th July 1908.

"At the recent annual meeting of the Southampton Golf Club, the hon. secretary reported that the past year had been one of the most successful the club had experienced since its formation in 1903.

In that year it started with ten members, but the membership has now risen to 35, and taking into consideration that another ten new members were elected at the meeting, it looks as if it will not be long before the half century is reached. The financial position shows that the club has a small balance in hand.

Five competitions were held during the year, the medal competition being won by Mr W Collins. Mr J Walsh was first in the annual prize competition, and Mr N H Harding in a knock-out competition."

In September 1912 members of the Southampton Golf Club and Swaythling Golf Club (also now defunct) played a match at Swaythling. In the singles Messrs. Bowyer, Rogers and Cruickshank, of Swaythling won their games; the winners on the Southampton side were Henley, Richards, Christmas, Meldrum and Davies. After the tea interval foursomes were played but due to fading light only nine-holes were played, Swaythling won the foursomes by 2 matches to 1.

In 1914 the secretary was A E Henley and the professional H Watts. A 9 hole undulating course on gravel and clay soil. There was a membership of 100. Entry fees were 10/- and subs £1. Visitors’ fees on introduction were 1/- a day, ladies 6d. There was no Sunday play.

Below results from the Spring Meeting played in May 1914.


Southampton Golf Club. Results from the Spring Meeting in May 1914.

From the Hampshire Advertiser Saturday 13th May 1914.


In June 1914 the early morning medal was played, result; H Jeffries (10), 38; H G Heasell (5), 39; P Starling (13), 40.

In the club's final appearance in 1922 the secretary at Southampton Golf Club , "The Cowherds", The Common, Southampton was still A E Henley, Olinda Villa, Omdurman Road, Highfield, Southampton. The professional was Harry Grant. There was a club membership of 100 gents and 25 ladies. Visitors’ fees were 1/- a day, 3/- a week and 10/- a month. The station at Southampton West was now 1 ½ miles away. Trams also passed the links.

Southampton Golf Club, The Cowherds. Location of the former golf course.

Location of the Southampton Golf Club course on Southampton Common.

Grid reference SU41700,14610, co-ordinates 441700,114610.