CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Shirley Park Golf Club - Tales from the 19th

PUBLISHED: 12:06 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:06 02 May 2014

Shirley Park Golf Club

Shirley Park Golf Club

Shirley Park

Celebrating its centenary this year, Shirley Park Golf Club has been praised for having ‘some of the best greens in Surrey’. Here, columnist John Whitbread, of the Surrey Golf Partnership, brings us their story

If a sense of good timing really is everything, Shirley Park Golf Club should not have reached its first birthday, let alone be celebrating its centenary as a thriving sporting concern, having opened just two weeks before the start of World War One.

Designed by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler (who also designed Walton Heath) and developed by George Collins, the course was laid out over 130 acres of rolling Surrey woodland just a mile from Croydon.

Despite the dark clouds gathering over Europe, there was colour and laughter when the flamboyant Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Vansittart-Bowater, performed the official opening ceremony on Saturday July 18, 1914.

The ceremony was followed by a match between two Open champions, with the legendary JH Taylor defeating Sandy Herd by four shots.

But just a few days later came the start of the war.

Would-be Shirley Park members, along with millions of other young men from all over Europe, whose toughest challenge should have been splashing out of greenside bunkers, were fighting and dying in far more alien bunkers on the battlefields of Ypres and The Somme.

Meanwhile, the course itself was handed over to the Ministry of Defence with much of the land used for vegetable growing and the clubhouse as a Red Cross Centre.

The effects of the carnage lasted long beyond the four-and-a-half years of actual battle as can be seen from the splendid honours board in the Shirley Park clubhouse where the first winners are inscribed for 1923. Indeed, it was a full decade before the next course was to be opened in Surrey at Wentworth in 1924.

The following years saw the club growing slowly but steadily only for the future to be again threatened with disaster.

First, in early 1939, the owners (Shirley Park Estates) proposed closing the course and building a housing estate. It was then that the power of the press came into play in the form of club member John Gordon, who also happened to be editor of the Daily Express. He led a major campaign that ended with the plans being defeated.

Later that year, however, the Second World War brought another seven-year halt with the course covered in barricades and newly dug ditches and craters to prevent German gliders from landing on the fairways. A more lasting consequence was the permanent loss of three holes, which led to an enforced re-design.

Fighting spirit
A proud club spirit ensured that Shirley Park again bounced back stronger than before, but they still had to survive another body blow in June 1975, when a fire gutted much of the clubhouse, especially the men’s locker rooms.

It was then that the much respected Sid Parker, club professional from 1944-82, organised a successful donation of equipment from surrounding clubs, so that members could continue to play.

In 2004, with just 10 years remaining on their lease, the club, anxious to avoid another cliffhanger, managed to buy a 150-year lease for £1.1 million and then embarked on a major refurbishment.

Today, Shirley Park is in remarkably rude health with a thriving membership enjoying more than 50 events each year, and with a number of special celebrations planned for their centenary including a much-anticipated Pro-Am that will be staged on Friday July 18.

Among the latest innovations at the club is a website where visitors can make a 360-degree virtual tour of the club and an ultra-modern indoor teaching centre where current club professional Mick Taylor and his assistants use the latest television teaching aids and state-of-the-art club customising.

Shirley Park has rightly been praised for having some of the best greens in Surrey and though the tight boundaries have left little room for lengthening holes in the current fashion, the 6,180-yard par 71 layout is still a true test.

Says proud general manager Steve Murphy: “Some newcomers take a first look at the course and think it will be easy. Ask them when they have finished their round and they have to admit it is so much tougher than it looks.”

***

Shirley Park Golf Club, 194 Addiscombe Road, Croydon CR0 7LB. Tel: 0208 6541143. Web: shirleyparkgolfclub.co.uk

***

The Surrey Golf Partnership comprises 111 clubs, which are also affiliated to the Surrey Golf Union and the Surrey Ladies Golf Union: surreygolfpartnership.com

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:06

Education expert Dr Ryan Hinchey, Coordinator of College Counselling at ACS International School, with campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions

Read more
Yesterday, 11:34

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

Read more
Mon, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Mon, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search