This brief history of Prudhoe Golf Club was prepared in the Club’s 75th Anniversary year. Some might say it’s long overdue!
The original group of founder members in 1930 included the following:
Chairman: Mr Sidney Bates (owner of the then West Wylam Colliery)
Vice Chairman: Father Walsh
Other Founders (Men): George Anderson, T.Hirst, Archie Wilson, Walter Bolam, Mr Barker, F. McMahon, K.B. Hood, Bob Hall, Doctor McCoull, R. Crowe and W.Bird
Other Founders (Ladies): Mrs Bolam, Isa Murray, D. Bell, M. Appleby, Dolly Douthwaite, Reney Douthwaite, Mrs McMahon, Mrs D. Stobart
Many of the Club’s present and past members will know some of these names in relation to trophies still played for every year. Although not one of the founders, Mr J. Currey a local Turf Accountant of the day, donated the Currey Cup and the first winner was a founder, Mr K. B. Hood who defeated Mr J. Hall 3&2 in the then 36 hole final.
What will be a surprise to many is that the Club did not start its life at the present location. For the first 4 years, the course was on land owned by the Colliery Farm and spanned from the fields from Homedale to opposite The Terrace. This area today is the Oaklands from Homedale to the rear of Waterworld.
The first greenkeeper recorded is J. Clarence and his assistant was R. Brown. No doubt they set the course standards members and visitors enjoy so much now.
In those early days, members and visitors could obtain the services of caddies, all of whom wore a bronze badge engraved with PGC. Those caddies received the princely fee of 4 or 8 old pence for 9 and 18 holes respectively. In new money, that equates to 1.7p and 3.3p – how times have changed!
During 1934, the Club moved to its present location paying £60 annually to sub-let the land which was then, as it is now, owned by the Duke of Northumberland. However at the time the leasing arrangement was a grey area, in that the land was leased to Joseph Frederick Bell, who apparently sub-let it to another party who in turn sublet it to PGC. This was done without the knowledge of the Duke at that time. Eventually the situation was sorted and PGC were allowed to carry on paying the £60 yearly rent to Mr Bell – what happened to the other un-named party no one knows!
PGC continued to pay the rent to Mr Bell until his death in 1957 and when Mrs Bell gave up the tenancy of the land in 1958,
This arrangement continued until 1959 when the Club became direct tenants of the Duke and signed a 21 year lease at an annual rent of £250. If only the annual rent was still £250!
It is not clear when the original clubhouse was constructed , but in 1968 a new one was planned. During the planning stage it was advised that if we owned the freehold of the land on which the clubhouse was to be built, it would help in getting the necessary brewery loan for the construction of the clubhouse. As a result, the Duke of Northumberland sold us a strip of land on which the clubhouse sits to the top gate in the car park for £100. The new clubhouse opened in June 1969.
The first competition honours board was made by James Souter-Gray, the woodwork master at Eltringham School. As a sergeant in the Royal Air Force, he was sadly killed in action in December 1941 and the plaque on the board gives proper tribute to a great club member.
In 1971, more land was acquired next to Stanley Burn, providing the opportunity to create two new holes. These were the tee box which is now the 2nd and a new green, no longer in existence, located close to and in front of the current 9th tee box. Now an 11 hole course the annual rent rose to £350.
Further amendments to the lease arose due to the extension of the car park, erection of the professional’s shop and the acquisition of the fields which now comprise the 10th, 18th holes and the practice ground.
In 1968, the land across the road (which contains holes 12 – 17) was secured from Tynedale Council on a 125 year lease with a one off payment of £30,000. A “pepper corn” rent is payable annually. The club now had an 18 hole course.
As a sign of how times have changed, one of the earliest Annual General Meetings on record is the 26th AGM held on Saturday 25 February 1956 in the clubhouse. The revenue account for the year ended 31 December 1955 – and audited by the appropriately named Mr Goodhand – showed the following financial position:
|Rent & Rates||129||Subscriptions||182|
|Course Exp||256||Green Fees||26|
|Clubhouse Exp||168||Balls & Tees surplus||30|
Also, the Balance Sheet showed that the Club owed £329 and had assets of £1,054 which included £432 cash. We can only wonder what the annual subscriptions, visitors green fees and membership numbers were back then!
Clearly, over the decades, Prudhoe Golf Club has made enormous progress and this is a great tribute to the dedication of the Club’s officials and staff, as well as the loyal support of its members, both past and present.
From those small beginnings the Club has developed a reputation for excellence. A great course in fine condition and excellent clubhouse facilities are essential ingredients. By mixing these with a friendly and courteous atmosphere, where everyone feels welcome, then you have a truly great golf club. So, not just a Home of Champions, but a truly champion golf club.
Credit for the facts on which this history is based is given to Mr Dennis Jackson, a Past President and Trustee.