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History of Chesterfield Golf Club

The Chesterfield Golf Club was founded in 1897 and its first members played a course in Somersall Park. The Club moved to its present site in 1906 when Somersall Park proved too short. The original Walton course consisted of nine holes, taking in much of the land now occupied by the first six holes together with some which is now a public recreation area. In the late 1920's the Club acquired Yew Tree Farm and the course was played much as it is now. In May 1939 - four months before war was declared - work started on a new clubhouse to replace the original wooden building, it was opened in December that year. Meanwhile the MOD had requisitioned some land which meant just 9 holes could be played, being the new ones just completed.

In 1942 the famous Henry Cotton played an exhibition game against 3 local professionals to raise money for the Red Cross - photos of this event are on display in the Clubhouse.

When the War finished, the Club obtained its land back together with £738-3-0 compensation for any damage.

In 1952 the present 7th and 8th holes were added and the dangerous 'Murder Alley' had been consolidated into one hole, the present 9th.  The new practice putting green came into use in the summer of 1955.

Access to the club was through Riggotts Lane until 1959 when a new two way road was created on the old exit to Walton Road.

Over the years the clubhouse was improved and enlarged creating new facilities for members and adding the new entrance hall, professionals shop and Secretary's office which is as it is today.

Various improvements have been made to the greens over the last few years including a total rebuild of the seventh in 2003 and eight greens in 2006. Work has also been undertaken on the men's and ladies locker rooms together with a 'new look' clubhouse with updated decorations and furnishings and a new bar.

The view from inside the Clubhouse over the surrounding countryside is unrivalled by any in the county.

From the Archive

October 1908

Course extended to 18 holes. Designed by Tom Williamson. 21 year lease @ £120 p.a. (Tom Williamson was Pro at Notts GC (Hollinwell)).
Note that the 11th and 13th holes shared what is now our 9th fairway - hence its name “Murder Alley”.
Also the 13th and 10th double green which can still be seen near the humps on the 9th fairway.

WW1

The First World War came and went with little impact on the Club. All members who were not away on military duties were told to keep the fires lit in the locker rooms, smoke room, etc.”. Letters of sympathy were sent to the relatives of the following members killed in action: - 1916: Capt. Herbert Barber, Capt. L.R. Lewis, Capt. F.B. Robinson and Lieut. H. Simpson.
1917: Capt. J. H. Marsden, MC., Capt. W. B. M. Jackson , Cpl. W. E. Ford. 1918: Lieut. A. N. Eyre RAF, Capt. Thomas Greaves.
Another letter was sent to Captain Victor Robinson congratulating him on being awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry at Hohenzollern Redoubt on October 13th and 15th, 1915. Seven holes were closed in the summer of 1917 for a hay crop!

1939

War Difficulties Loss on Year's Working the Chesterfield Golf Club is meeting considerable difficulty owing to the war, and there is a loss on the year's working of £71.15s.3d. In the course of the annual report it is stated that the committee have thought it advisable to cut down expenditure wherever possible. The ground staff has been reduced in numbers, and the services of the caddymaster have been dispensed with. The professional has taken over the duties of caddymaster in addition to his own work.
The new nine holes were opened for play in June. The greens committee are quite satisfied with the condition. The greens and fairways are as good as could be expected, but there has been some difficulty in keeping the rough down, owing to the exceptionally wet summer, but the greens committee anticipate that there will not be the same trouble in future. There is still a small amount of drainage to be done, and this will be completed this winter, if conditions permit.
The committee decided that it was advisable, in spite of present difficulties, to complete the construction of the new clubhouse, and it is hoped that this will be ready for opening during January next. It should prove a tremendous asset to the Club, and it is hoped that members will make full use of all its amenities. The
Corporation have acquired 22 acres of the old course for playing fields, and they will erect a fence on the club side of the footpath.
Resignations so far have not been more than was expected, but naturally these are larger in number than in peace time. The committee have made all members serving in His Majesty's Forces honorary members of
the club for the duration of the war. The officers stationed in Chesterfield have been made honorary members of the club, and it is hoped that members will welcome these officers. The subscriptions for temporary
membership have been modified, in order to encourage temporary residents in Chesterfield on war work to join the club for short periods, subject to confirmation by the general meeting. Three months subscription
£2.2s.Od. Monthly subscription, 15/-. The entrance fee has been suspended subject to the confirmation of the committee's action by the general meeting.
Mr. Edgar Eyre has been nominated as Captain, and if elected will be an ex-officio member of the committee. The retiring members of the committee, Messrs. J. B. Cutts, T. T. Savage and W. S. Wilson, who are eligible, offer themselves for re-election. The committee place on record the great regret of the club at the untimely death of the honorary secretary. Mr. M. R. Malson and would like to express their appreciation of the valuable services he rendered. Mr. R. N. Harrison was appointed to fill the vacancy, and to this the committee ask for
confirmation. The vacancy on the committee created was filled by the election of Mr. William C. Coxall. To this also the committee ask for confirmation.
The membership of the club as at 1st October. 1939, was as follows: Full members 166 (1938 187), ladies 81 (1938-93), others 82 (1938-76) total 329 (1938-356). The accounts show that on the green account  the expenditure £1093.8s.7d. is only £17 more than last year, while on the house account it is about £40 more. Other expenses are almost the same. Revenue shows an increase on subscriptions of nearly £200 but visitors fees are down by £20. Proceeds from refreshments etc. Are about the same £398. On loan account there is a mortgage at four per cent secured on the new clubhouse and site for £1006.11s.6d bank loan secured on the company's freehold property of £5198.19s.3d five percent debentures £2545 and ten temporary loans of £800. These loans and mortgages amount to £9,550. The assets include land and buildings at Walton valued at £6912.7s.3d course development and extension £3544.14s old pavilion and sheds £100. New clubhouse £600 (amount paid to date); loose fittings furniture etc. £60. There are some small balances in hand.
The annual meeting is fixed for Monday December 18th at 8pm at the Station Hotel Chesterfield.

The Derbyshire Times – December 15th, 1939

“The Names of the 18 Holes at Walton”

Introduction

There must be very few golfers who cannot recall some of the names of the holes that they have played on well known golf courses when on holiday or in competitions. Good shots and indeed bad ones are often remembered when a hole can be identified by a name rather than by a mere number. Some names are obvious when the hole has a particular geographical or topographical feature, some have a historical connection whilst others are humorous. It occurred to me that it might add character to our course at Walton if the holes could be named in the Centenary Year and the Committee was consulted and happily gave its consent.
New tee markers, provided through the generosity of a local businessman, have been installed and the hole names are set out thereon. I trust many of the names are self-evident and not too cryptic but in case any Member wonders how any of the names have been arrived at, I give the explanations below.

Hole Number One – “Aspiration”

The famous crooked spire of Chesterfield's Parish Church, built in 1400 A.D., can be seen when approaching the first green as is the spire of Calow Parish Church. The crooked spire is incorporated in the Golf Club's Badge. Although only a small part of the present course lies within the Borough of Chesterfield, the Club and many of its Members have close connections with Town, Trade and Commerce of Chesterfield. The Coat Of Aims of The Borough of Chesterfield has the punning reference to the Crooked Spire with the word "Aspire" on its crest.

Hole Number Two – “Castle”

Standing on the skyline to the left side of the fairway is Bolsover Castle. It was built by Sir Charles Cavendish in 1613 A.D, on the site of a Norman castle.

Hole Number Three – “Derby Tup”

The Club has been a Member of the Derbyshire Ladies Golf Club's Association and a Member of the Derbyshire Union of Golf Clubs for many years and several Club Members have held high office of President and Captain in those organisations. Many Club Members have played for the County Teams . It would seem right to name a hole to record these relationships .The Tup is of course "the finest ram, Sir, that ever was fed on hay".

Hole Number Four – “Grangewood”

An early Ordnance Survey Map of the area published around 1840 shows Grange Wood covering land which is now the fourth fairway and adjacent land. Many older Members will remember Grangewood Farm situated to the rear of the third green. A Grange is a granary or a country residence that has farming connections and it is possible that Grange Wood was farmed from Harwood Grange .

Hole Number Five – “The Stoop”

To the right of the Men's Medal Tee and behind the Ladies Back Tee is a Stoop which is a dialectic word for a stone post. It is likely that it has stood sentinel in this position at least from 1906 A.D. when the course was laid and probably from an earlier date.  One of two gateposts into field (now 7th hole) pre-1952.

Hole Number Six – “Butts”

A feature of this hole are the hillocks or mounds in front of the tees. I understand that during the 1939-1945 war the Home Guard used the old clubhouse as a post and used the mounds as butts for shooting practice. The word is derived from the French word Butte.

Hole Number Seven – “Bess’ Home”

Looking from the tee in a north-easterly direction and just below the skyline can be seen one of most   famous historic buildings in North-Derbyshire. Completed in 1597, Hardwick Hall was built by Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury sometimes referred to by historians as Bess of Hardwick. Born Elizabeth of Hardwick, she was the Granddaughter of James IV of Scotland and the Great Granddaughter of Henry VII. Her second husband was Sir William Cavendish, the 12 times Great-Grandfather of His Grace the 11th Duke of Devonshire.

Hole Number Eight “Gorsy Knoll”

From 1907 to 1937, part of the golf course was on the land to the left of the eighth hole. This land was known as Gorsy Knoll and was sold (9th November 1939 for £995 18s 2d) by the Golf Club to the Chesterfield Corporation and is now a public open space. Gorse bushes grow in front of the tee and a Knoll is a rounded top of a hill or a hillock.

Hole Number Nine “Murder Alley”

The present 7th and 8th holes were not developed until 1952 and prior to that date two holes, the 8th, and 9th were played on what is now the 9th hole. With golf bails flying in opposite directions a real golf hazard existed and Members sometimes referred to it as " Murder Alley ".

Hole Number Ten “Beck”

The Birdholme Brook which crosses or bounds every one of the back nine holes is an important feature of the tenth hole. A "beck" is a brook or stream with a stony bed and is a fitting description of the watercourse.

Hole Number Eleven “Traps”

Without the bunkers on the right-hand side of the fairway and at the greenside, the hole would have considerably less character. They provide an appropriate name for the hole.

Hole Number Twelve “Brookside”

The Birdholme Brook is the topographical feature that marks the out of bounds to the left of the fairway.

Hole Number Thirteen  “Long Holt”

The name of this hole was conceived by mistake. I had intended to name it after the architect, Colt, who designed the back nine holes and who designed many famous courses both in this Country and in America, In a moment of forgetfulness I substituted the first letter of his surname and he became Holt. I looked up the word holt in the dictionary and found it to be an Old English word for a wood or copse. The outstanding feature of the hole is its length requiring, for most golfers a long wood off the tee to reach the green in regulation. The long wood which runs along the left-hand side of the fairway is Walton Wood.

Hole Number 14  “Deer Park”

Within two miles of this hole lies Wingerworth Deer Park and one can speculate that a couple of centuries ago deer might have roamed through (lie intervening scrub to feed on the pasture which is now the fourteenth fairway to drink from the brook). What is fact and not speculation is that there have frequent sightings over many years of a male deer, of at least five years of age , not more than two hundred yards distant from the fourteenth green.  Because of its distinctive colouring it is known as the WHITE HART !

Hole Number 15 “Fishpond”

On the Ordnance Survey Map of 1896 three fishponds are shown alongside the fifteenth fairway.  The
outline of at least one remains and can be seen to the left of the fairway immediately before the bridge.

Hole Number 16 “Somersall"

The sixteenth green is probably the nearest point on the present course to the original course of the Club at Somersall which existed from 1897 to 1906 .

Hole Number 17 “The Oaks”

Two of the outstanding features of this hole must be the oak trees standing on either side of the fairway. They are both probably over one hundred years old and whilst they cannot be considered permanent features it is to be hoped, that in due course, young oak trees will be planted in proximity to the present ones to replace them when they reach the end of their of their lives.

Hole Number 18 “Centennial”

The dictionary meanings – a) of 100 years’ standing and b) a hundredth anniversary or its celebration.

In conclusion:

Only time will tell if the names selected have been found to be acceptable or not to Members of the Club. Whilst the tee marker plates are, I understand, to be fixed in attractive concrete plinths I am sure that they will not be regarded as "being set in tablets of stone ".

Jim Brackenbury, 2nd May 1997