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GOLF COURSES ***




Produced by KD Weeks, Greg Bergquist and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)





Transcriber's Note

This version of the text is unable to reproduce certain typographic
features. Italics are delimited with the '_' character as _italic_.
Bold font is delimited with the '=' character as =bold=. Words printed
using "small capitals" are shifted to all upper-case.

The illustrations were each presented with a full page caption, and
were separated from the text by blank pages. In this text, these
illustrations were moved to fall at paragraph breaks and appear as,
for example:

[Illustration: SUNNINGDALE
_The tenth hole_]

Please consult the transcriber's notes at the end of this text for any
additional issues.




THE GOLF COURSES OF THE
BRITISH ISLES

[Illustration: ST. ANDREWS
_Looking back from the twelfth green_]




THE GOLF COURSES

OF THE

BRITISH ISLES


BY

BERNARD DARWIN


ILLUSTRATED BY

HARRY ROUNTREE


LONDON
DUCKWORTH & CO.
3 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN


_All rights reserved_

_Published 1910_




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

I. LONDON COURSES (1) 1

II. LONDON COURSES (2) 23

III. KENT AND SUSSEX 44

IV. THE WEST AND SOUTH-WEST 68

V. EAST ANGLIA 93

VI. THE COURSES OF CHESHIRE AND LANCASHIRE 111

VII. YORKSHIRE AND THE MIDLANDS 130

VIII. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE 147

IX. A LONDON COURSE 158

X. ST. ANDREWS, FIFE, AND FORFARSHIRE 165

XI. THE COURSES OF THE EAST LOTHIAN AND EDINBURGH 181

XII. WEST OF SCOTLAND: PRESTWICK AND TROON 202

XIII. IRELAND 215

XIV. WALES 231

INDEX 250




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

ST. ANDREWS _Frontispiece._

SUNNINGDALE _To face p._ 4

WALTON HEATH " 12

WOKING " 18

MID-SURREY " 24

STOKE POGES " 28

CASSIOBURY PARK " 30

SANDY LODGE " 32

NORTHWOOD " 34

ROMFORD " 36

BLACKHEATH " 38

WIMBLEDON COMMON " 40

MITCHAM COMMON " 42

SANDWICH " 44

SANDWICH ("HADES") " 46

DEAL " 50

PRINCE'S " 54

LITTLESTONE " 56

RYE " 58

EASTBOURNE " 62

ASHDOWN FOREST " 64

WESTWARD HO! " 70

BUDE " 78

BURNHAM " 80

BROADSTONE " 84

BOURNEMOUTH " 88

BEMBRIDGE " 90

FELIXSTOWE " 94

CROMER " 98

SHERINGHAM " 100

BRANCASTER " 102

HUNSTANTON " 106

SKEGNESS " 108

HOYLAKE (1) " 112

HOYLAKE (2) " 116

FORMBY " 120

WALLASEY " 122

LYTHAM AND ST. ANNE'S " 124

TRAFFORD PARK " 126

GANTON " 130

FIXBY " 134

HOLLINWELL " 138

SANDWELL PARK " 142

HANDSWORTH " 144

FRILFORD HEATH " 148

WORLINGTON " 154

ST. ANDREWS " 166

CARNOUSTIE " 178

GULLANE " 182

MUIRFIELD " 184

NORTH BERWICK " 190

MUSSELBURGH " 196

BARNTON " 200

PRESTWICK " 204

TROON " 212

DOLLYMOUNT " 216

PORTMARNOCK (1) " 220

PORTMARNOCK (2) " 222

PORTRUSH " 224

NEWCASTLE " 228

ABERDOVEY " 232

HARLECH " 238

PORTHCAWL " 244

SOUTHERNDOWN " 246




CHAPTER I.

LONDON COURSES (1).


Some dozen or fifteen years ago the historian of the London golf
courses would have had a comparatively easy task. He would have said
that there were a few courses upon public commons, instancing, as he
still would to-day, Blackheath and Wimbledon. He might have dismissed
in a line or two a course that a few mad barristers were trying to
carve by main force out of a swamp thickly covered with gorse and
heather near Woking. All the other courses would have been lumped
together under some such description as that they consisted of fields
interspersed by trees and artificial ramparts, the latter mostly
built by Tom Dunn; that they were villainously muddy in winter, of an
impossible and adamantine hardness in summer, and just endurable in
spring and autumn; finally, that the muddiest and hardest and most
distinguished of them all was Tooting Bec.

All this is changed now, and the change is best exemplified by the
fact that although the club has removed to new quarters, poor Tooting
itself is now as Tadmor in the wilderness. I passed by the spot the
other day, and should never have recognized it had not an old member
pointed it out to me in a voice husky with emotion. The ground is now
covered with a tangle of red houses, which cannot be termed attractive,
and such glory as belonged to it has altogether departed. Peace to its
ashes! it could never, by the wildest stretch of imagination, have been
called anything but a bad course, and yet it held its head high in its
heyday. Prospective members by the score jostled each other eagerly on
the waiting list, and parliamentary golfers distinguished the course
above its fellows by cutting their divots from its soft and yielding
mud. I still recollect the thrill I experienced on first being taken
to play there; it was a distinct moment in my golfing life. It was
exceedingly muddy, but it was not so muddy as the course at Cambridge
on which I usually disported myself, and on the whole I thought it
worthy of its fame; people were not so difficult to please in the
matter of inland golf in those days.

Tooting is no more, but there are many courses like it still to
be found, most of them in a flourishing condition, near London.
Meanwhile, however, a new star, the star of sand and heather, has
arisen out of the darkness, and a whole generation of new courses,
which really are golf and not a good or even bad imitation of it,
have sprung into being. Here are some of them, and they make an
imposing list - Sunningdale, Walton Heath, Woking, Worplesdon, Byfleet,
Bleakdown, Westhill, Bramshot and Combe Wood. The idea of hacking and
digging and building a course out of land on which two blades of grass
do not originally grow together is a comparatively modern one. The
elder 'architects' took a piece of country that was more or less ready
to their hand, rolled it and mowed it, cut some trenches and built
some ramparts, and there was the course. They did not as a rule think
of taking a primaeval pine forest or a waste of heather and forcibly
turning it into a course; if they had thought of it, moreover, they
would not have had the money to carry it out. Now the glorious golfing
properties of this country of sand and heather and fir-trees have been
discovered; its owners too have discovered that they possessed all
unknowingly a gold mine from which can be extracted so many hundreds of
pounds an acre, and the work of building courses out of the heather and
building houses all round it goes gaily on.

These heathery courses are, for the most part, very good, and so
indeed they ought to be. They have, in the first place, the priceless
gift of youth. Those who have laid them out have been able to study
both the merits and the faults of the older courses, and then, with
the advantage of all this accumulated mass of knowledge, have set
themselves to the work of creation. This science, for so it may now
be fairly called, of the laying out of courses on carefully discussed
and thought-out principles, is itself comparatively modern; the very
expression 'a good length hole,' which is now upon all golfers' lips,
is of no great antiquity. Those who laid out the older links did not,
one may hazard the opinion, think a vast deal about the good or bad
length of their hole. They saw a plateau which nature had clearly
intended for a green, and another plateau at some distance off which
had the appearance of a tee, and there was the hole ready made for
them; whether the distance from one plateau to another could be
compassed in a drive and a pitch, or in two drives, or perhaps even two
drives and a pitch, did not, I fancy, greatly interest them. In some
places nature, being in a particularly kindly mood, had disposed the
plateaus at ideal distances, so that a St. Andrews sprang into being;
but people as a rule took the holes as they found them, and were not
for ever searching for the perfect "test of golf."

Gradually, however, the more thoughtful of golfers evolved definite
theories as to what were the particular qualities that constituted
a good or bad hole, and longed for an opportunity of putting their
theories into practice. One such great opportunity came when it was
discovered that heather would, if only enough money was spent on it,
make admirable golfing country, and the architects have made the
fullest use of it, lavishing upon the heather treasures of thought,
care and ingenuity which the non-golfer might say were worthy of a
better cause. Nothing can ever quite make up for the short, crisp turf,
the big sandhills and the smell of the sea; seaside golf must always
come first, and inland second, but the best inland golf can no longer
be reproached with being a bad second.

[Illustration: SUNNINGDALE
_The tenth hole_]

Of all these comparatively young courses, the two best known are
probably Sunningdale and Walton Heath. Sunningdale was designed
by Willy Park, who is an architect of very pronounced characteristics,
though Sunningdale is not perhaps quite so clearly to be recognized
as his handiwork as are some of his other courses, such as Huntercombe
or Burhill. It was laid out in what proved to be the last days of the
gutty ball, though there was then no whisper of the revolution that was
coming to us across the Atlantic. It was a long course - really a
fearfully long course for an ordinary mortal. The two-shot holes were
doubtless two-shot holes - for Braid, but they had a way of expanding
themselves into two drives and a reasonable iron shot for less gifted
players. I cannot help thinking that the coming of the "Haskell" was
a blessing for the course, and that it may be said of Sunningdale, as
it can be said for perhaps no other course in Christendom, that it was
improved by the rubber-cored ball.

The holes are still quite long enough, and if we accomplish any
considerable number of them in four strokes apiece we shall be
justified in a modified amount of swagger, but we need no longer risk
an internal injury in trying to reach the green with our second shot.
Of all the inland courses Sunningdale is perhaps the richest in really
fine two-shot holes, where a brassey or cleek shot lashed right home on
to the green sends a glow of satisfaction through the golfer's frame.

Almost as surely as the two-shot holes constitute its strength, the
short holes are the weakness of the course. Really good and interesting
short holes add a crowning glory to a golf course, and that, I think,
Sunningdale lacks. It resembles in that respect another fine course,
Deal, where the longer holes are admirable and the short holes are
almost totally wanting in distinction. The short holes at Sunningdale
are, however, much better than they used to be, for there was a time
when they might have been rather scathingly dismissed as consisting of
two practically blind shots on to artificial table lands, and a third
entirely blind shot on to a bad sloping green; but this third reproach
at least has now been entirely wiped away.

Let us now begin at the first tee and duly admire the view over a vast
expanse of wild, undulating, heathery country, with more houses on
it now than anyone except the ground-landlord would like to see, and
clumps of fir-trees here and there, one especially on a little knoll,
which makes a pleasant landmark in the distance. The next thing to do
is to hit the ball, which should be a comparatively easy task, for
there is plenty of room at this first hole, as there always should
be, and nothing but an egregious top or a wholly unprovoked slice is
likely to harm us. It is really, from the point of view of the greatest
happiness of the greatest number, a wholly admirable first hole, since
not only is there no great opportunity for disaster, but the hole is
a long hole and so enables the couples to be despatched quickly and
without undue irritation from the tee. It is just a steady, easy-going
five hole - two drives and a pitch - a mere prelude to the beginning of
serious business at the second.

This second is a really good hole. The tee-shot has to be played at an
unpleasantly difficult angle, and if we slice it we may find ourselves
in some innocent householder's front garden, while in endeavouring to
avoid such a trespass, we shall most probably pull it into a region
of ruts and heather. If we avoid both forms of errors, we have still
the second shot to play, long and straight and of an aspect most
formidable, for the avenue of rough down which we drive narrows as it
approaches the green, and there is an indefinable temptation to slice.
Altogether a fine hole, and on the easiest of days we may be thoroughly
pleased with a four, a figure we ought to repeat at the third. This
third is of no vast length, but is an excellent example of those holes
whereat there is much virtue in the placing of the tee-shot. There is
a bunker that "pokes and nuzzles with its nose" into the left-hand or
top edge of the green, and he who pulls his drive ever so slightly will
have a most difficult pitch to play over this bunker on to a somewhat
slippery and sloping green that runs away from him. On the other hand,
the man who has had the courage to skirt the rough on the right-hand
side of the course - very bad rough it is, too - will be rewarded by a
fairly simple run up shot, and moreover, the slope of the green makes a
cushion against which he may play his shot boldly.

The fourth is a short hole on a plateau green some way above the
player. The plateau is reasonably small and well guarded, and the shot
in a cross wind is sufficiently difficult, but the bottom of the pin is
out of the player's sight, and he needs much local knowledge to be sure
whether he is ten yards short or stone dead; a better hole than it
was, maybe, but not quite worthy of Sunningdale yet.

The fifth and sixth are beautiful holes, and the tee-shot to the fifth
sends the blood coursing more briskly through the veins. There is an
exhilaration in driving from a height and rushing thence down a steep
place on to the course which cannot be gainsaid. The more scientific
may point out that there is no justification for such emotion and that
we have far less on which to plume ourselves than if we had struck our
tee-shot from the flat. The fact remains that hitting off a high place,
if it be not done too often and we are not too scant of breath, is
wholly delightful; the difficulty is that we are so intoxicated with
the situation that we hit much too hard and the ball totters feebly
down the hill-side, suffering from a severe wound in the scalp.

The drive from this particular high place having been safely
accomplished, there is an accurate second shot, which varies greatly
in length according to the wind, to be played between a pond on the
right and a bunker on the left. Some will pitch it and pitch into the
pond; others will run it and run into the bunker, and Mr. Colt will
play a peculiar low, scuffling shot straight on the pin and win it from
us in a four, which will very nearly be a three. Another wonderfully
good two-shot hole is the sixth, where the green lies in the angle of
a wood, and we must hold our second shot well up to the left so that
the ball shall trickle slowly down the sloping green towards the hole;
that is supposing we have hit a straight tee-shot, a thing by no means
certain, for there is a horribly attractive clump of fir-trees to the
left which catches many and which once proved particularly fatal to
Jack White in a big match against Tom Vardon.

The seventh is a bone of contention, some averring that it is a fine
'sporting' hole, while others have no names too bad for it; when not
alluded to with profanity it is generally known as the 'Switch-back'
hole. Those who like a blind tee-shot and a blind second will admire
it, and those who don't wont, and there is the whole matter in a very
small compass. The eighth is quite a good short hole now (it used to be
bad and blind and stupid); and the ninth we may skip, although there
is a fine straight tee-shot needed, and then from the tenth tee we
drive down another steep place into the lower country. Those who make
a loud outcry when they drive "a perfect tee-shot, sir, straight on
the pin," and find it in a bunker, may here have cause for annoyance.
There is no bunker on the straight line, but there are bunkers to right
and left and a somewhat narrow space between, and a shot that is very,
very nearly well hit sometimes finds a resting-place in one or other
of them. It is a poor thing, however, to demand perfect immunity for
any respectable drive, and the shot that is placed where it ought to
be gives the chance for a really fine second shot between more bunkers
on to a green of fascinating but fiendish undulations. At the back of
the green is a hut, where live ginger-beer and apples and other things,
and he who has done the hole in four fully deserves them. This tenth
hole will be celebrated in golfing history for a truly tremendous
second shot played by Braid out of the left-hand bunker in the final
round of the _News of the World_ tournament, his opponent being Edward
Ray. Braid calls it in his book the most remarkable bunker shot that
he ever played, and that is praise indeed. Poor Ray! He had a perfect
tee-shot and a perfect second, laid his third stone dead, and yet lost
the hole, for Braid, having driven into the left-hand bunker from the
tee, gallantly took his iron for his second, reached the green with a
terrific shot, and completed the roll of his infamies by holing his
putt for a three.

Provided we do not top our tee-shot into a formidable sandy bluff, the
eleventh should be done in four, with a chance of a three; and the
twelfth should be another four, if only we can be straight enough from
the tee. This is a hole to be approached warily and in instalments, and
the prudent man generally takes a cleek or a spoon from the tee, and
even then breathes a fervent thanksgiving if his ball lies clear, since
the fairway narrows down to a horribly small point.

The thirteenth, as I said, was once one of the very worst holes in
the world, and is now a thoroughly attractive one; the player must
produce some stroke whereby the ball shall sit resolutely down on a
slanting green surrounded by bunkers, and stay there. The fourteenth is
a two-shot hole for Mr. Angus Hambro, and rather more for most other
people, save under favourable conditions. Then comes another short
hole - I should have said there were four and not three - but this is
a long short hole; a wooden club shot is often needed, and when that
wooden club shot has to be held up into a stiff right-hand wind, the
difficulties of the situation are not easily to be overrated.

Then we face homewards with three good long holes, all of which may be
done in fours, though most people would thankfully strike a bargain
with Providence for two fours and a five. The most difficult of the
three, as is only right and fitting, is a seventeenth hole, and here
Mr. Colt has worked a great transformation and turned a hole that once
possessed no merits whatever into a thoroughly good one, with a most
difficult second shot - one of those shots which produce an instinctive
and fatal tendency to slice. After that two good, straight, steady
shots should get us safely on to the home green, and we have finished
at last; if we have done a score which is perceptibly lower than 80, we
have done well. If we have not been too frequently 'up to our necks'
in untrodden heather - nay, even if we have - we ought to have enjoyed
ourselves immensely.

From Sunningdale we go to =Walton Heath= - a thing far easier to
accomplish in the imagination than by a cross-country journey, and
there we have another fine, long slashing course laid out in the grand
manner, especially to suit the rubber-cored ball.

The course is the work of Mr. Herbert Fowler, who is perhaps the
most daring and original of all golfing architects, and gifted with
an almost inspired eye for the possibilities of a golfing country.
He is essentially ferocious in his methods, and there is no one else
who is quite so merciless in the punishing of shots that are quite
respectable, that are in fact so nearly good that the striker of
them, in the irritation of the moment, calls them perfect. This fell
design he will accomplish either by trapping the long shot that is
almost straight but not straight enough or by planting his green amid
a perfect network of bunkers. The result is that there will always


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Online LibraryBernard DarwinThe Golf Courses of the British Isles → online text (page 1 of 17)