Club History & James Braid

The following extract is taken from “Eltham Warren Golf Club 1890 –1990” by past President F.H Seeley, and is reproduced here by kind permission.

In 1890 a group of friends who, for some time, had permission to practice golf on an expanse of land called the Warren field on the eastern end of Eltham village, decided to form a club. They met on 7th May 1890 in the house of Mr Walter Richardson and formed Eltham Golf Club with a membership of eight.

The Club became sub-tenants of Mr Edwards at an annual rental of £10 and a 6-hole course was laid out. A further field, the present practice ground area, extended the playing area to a more generous 17 acres and in 1894 a very-cramped 9-hole course was laid out. Not surprisingly this soon proved to be a dangerous experiment and the course went back to six holes.

Due to nearby development the golf course was pushed further east and extended until, by 1910 or so, it occupied more or less its present site.

In spite of doubts about the future – particularly with regard to tenure of the land – the infant club grew rapidly. By early 1894 the agreed membership had been increased to 30. Some of the newcomers lived as far away as Lewisham, quite a long journey in those days, and needed somewhere to change, but it was not until the middle of 1896 that a satisfactory solution was found: then a room was rented from Mr Hands at 2 Elm Villas (Southend Crescent) at a rent of £5 5s 0d per quarter, and it was soon further arranged that tea and light refreshments should be made available.

Further expansion of membership and the formation of a Ladies Club rendered this room quite inadequate; the next move was to 14 The Broadway where it seems that at least three rooms, one large enough to form a changing room with thirty lockers, must have been rented and meals and drinks were available. This in turn was rapidly outgrown and the next move was to a whole house, Montrose, in Eltham High Street, which was rented at £45 per annum. This, then referred to in minutes as the Club House, was the home of the club until the first clubhouse on the present site was built in 1912.

During the first few years the founder members of the club and those who joined them soon after seem to have made and tended the course themselves using their own shovels, scythes, sickles and lawn mowers, but expansion from the original small six hole layout made this impractical and investment was made on a greens cutter and a fairways mower with horse (the horse cost £10).

Major refurbishment was undertaken to the clubhouse in the early 1950s, but the building was devastated by fire on Saturday, 2nd June, 1956. The Lady Captain’s Day supper that year was by candlelight in the blackened shell of the dining room.

A grand new clubhouse was built, which included a billiard room and ladies’ room upstairs, as they are today, and incorporated the old covered patio and the card room in the much larger lounge which has changed very little since it was built.

Improvements, such as the installation of a sprinkler system for the course, have continued. Parts of the course may have been eaten away by road developments such as the Rochester Way Relief Road over the years, but our club is still here, stronger than ever and continues to thrive, with membership growing.

Member of the Association of James Braid Courses.

Currently there are 269 member clubs that were either designed or altered by the renowned golf architect James Braid.

The courses are to be found in Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland with one in New York. Eltham Warren Golf Club members and members of all The Golf Clubs in the Association can enjoy preferential green fees at these courses, by booking in advance.

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