by Sue Payne (Local History Group 2)
It was in 1880 that a letter in The Field from Rev. J. Cumming Macdona, a golf “missionary” of the time referred to Mr. Fleetwood Sandeman wanting to establish a golf course on Hayling Island. A meeting took place in 1883 and Fleetwood Sandeman was elected the Club’s first Captain and Rev. Macdona as the first Chairman. The minutes of that meeting are still in existence. A young man, Joseph Lloyd, was hired from Hoylake as the first professional green keeper.
The course of nine holes originally started in front of The Royal Hotel and continued westward on Beach Common. A further nine holes were added in 1884 by leasing land from Sinah Warren. The sand dunes provided the perfect land for a links course and it was in this year that Miss Maud Sandeman founded the Hayling Ladies Section.
In 1894 the leases were transferred to the Club from Fleetwood Sandeman, and thereafter the members controlled the Club. The Club negotiated a long lease for the ground on Sinah Warren in 1897 and a Clubhouse was then built at a cost of £1000.
Famous golfers Harry Vardon and James Braid held an exhibition match in 1902 and in 1905 J.H. Taylor was commissioned, for a fee of £11, to make a “True Links” venue. Not all of Taylor’s suggestions were accepted by the club, but his overall plan went ahead.
In 1912 the Club began negotiating for the freehold of the land from Sinah Warren, but the War delayed the plans until 1924. It was then necessary to redesign the course as the lease ran out on the Beach Common, on which were the first two tees. It was also decided to lease out the land at the Kench, and remove the 13th and 14th holes which were incorporated on the Kench, and which crossed the road. In 1933 the famous course architect Tom Simpson was commissioned and the course was built very much as it is today. Bernard Darwin, a famous golf writer, who after playing the new course, said, “it possesses some of the finest natural seaside golfing country to be found anywhere.”
The clubhouse was enlarged in 1937 to accommodate the growing number of members and an extra floor was added to provide a lounge. This building remained until 2001 when a new clubhouse was built, replacing the old one.
During the Second World War the land to the west of the seventh tee was requisitioned by the Defence Department to erect anti-aircraft gun batteries. Evidence of these batteries and bomb craters can still be seen, despite repairs carried out at the end of the war. The 13th green had been totally buried under sand and was relocated near the ferry clubhouse.
Gravel had been extracted from the course for many years, but in 1938 a member suggested that some of these small extraction areas could be used to form a lake which would solve the Club’s course watering problems. Gravel extraction continued afterwards in a more organised fashion at one end of the lake. It is now a haven for birds and the water is leased to fishermen.
The sea has eroded the course at times; in 1930 high tides washed over the second green and up the third fairway, and in 1980 the southern fencing was washed away. Three new groynes have helped to stop further erosion.
The year 1949 saw a major change in the administrative set-up of the Club. The assets of Hayling Golf Club were sold to the present company, The Hayling Golf Club Ltd., in exchange for shares, which were vested in the Trustees of the Club. This was important, in view of the fact that the land held by the Club is freehold, including the foreshore from the Clubhouse to the Ferry, along with income from shingle and rents hand to be administered.
Hayling golf course forms part of Sinah Common (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The SSSI comprises a diversity of maritime habitats including the most extensive vegetated shingle beach and sand dunes system in Hampshire. The course is sympathetically managed, in an agreement with Natural England, to take into account the needs of golfers and the biodiversity found there.
- Hayling Golf Club – A Natural place for Golf by Neil Blackey and Roger Thompson
- Hayling Golf Club Centenary Brochure