THE EARLY YEARS OF ORSETT GOLF CLUB 1899 - 1919
|From "The First One Hundred Years" The Story of Orsett Golf Club", abridged by Hazel Austin. This article is reproduced with the co-operation of Orsett Golf Club and the author David Hamilton, the well-known writer of many informative books on the popular game of golf.|
They originally played on a field owned by Farmer Watt, at a rent of £5, which was situated south of Orsett and west of the Orsett Cock public house. It was soon decided that the short, natural turf on the land across the road at Mucking Heath was more suitable for the game. Landowner Squier offered 40 acres and although no record has been found, it was probably at a rent of about £10 per annum. The club was known as 'The Mucking Heath Golf Club', or 'The Mucking and Fobbing Golf Club' as the land was in this district. A meeting was held at the course on 24th May 1900 when the original nine holes were laid out. A man was paid 3 shillings to keep the ground in order on one day a week.
In 1901 a clubhouse was set up at Old House Farm, now known as Brook Farm, owned by farmer Henry Cole who was always a good friend to the club, as was his son Charles and Henry Cole's foreman Clark who occupied Brook Farm. The loan of farm implements was never refused, a great help to the club in the early days.
Before the club room was set up, members left their golf clubs in the hollow of an oak tree located near the 8th tee. Soon a wooden shed was erected to store tools and equipment. This shed was used by the head green-keeper and the professional for 50 years when a new, modem pro shop was built.
The fIrst Annual General Meeting was held at Brook Farm on 18th May, 1901 when rules were drawn up which included authorising the President and Captain, Francis Whitmore to sign any agreement concerning land for the club with Messrs Squier and allowing members to play on Sunday as long as no caddies were employed.
In 1902 it was agreed that the rules to be observed be those of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew except when modifIed by local rules. The subscription was set at one guinea upon election to the club and one guinea annual subscription.
At the AGM in 1903 the accounts showed a balance of £4. 8s. 2d. It was resolved that a subscription of one guinea be at once collected from the members and that they be asked for an extra subscription of 10 shillings and sixpence at Michaelmas unless there was a large increase in membership. In the allocation of handicaps at the time, two members were off 12, six were off 14, nine were off 20 including Captain Whitmore, and the rest were off 24.
During 1904 committee member, Mr Ridgwell, was asked to procure boots for the course horse - a forerunner of today's "wide wheels"? (The shoes and wide wheels were to reduce damage to the turf.) At the AGM, Mr Boorman reported on discussions with Farmer Squier who agreed to keep cattle off the fIelds for the fIrst three months of the year, also to allow larger bunkers to be constructed. The Club was charged an extra £6 per annum for these concessions.
The course was being improved all the time and it became necessary to fInd a groundsman. Mr Seabrooke, the Grays brewer, introduced a Mr Clark from Newhaven and he was appointed at 16 shillings a week. He was boarded at Brook Farm at a cost of 11 shillings a week.
The club's fIrst medal was won by Dr Corbet playing off 14 with a gross score of 98. It was decided that all handicaps be adjusted after each competition and that no competition be held if there were six or fewer players. At this time there were 20 full time members.
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