Towyn-on-Sea Golf Club, Gwynedd.
In 1904 a ten hole course was opened; in 1906 a further eight holes were added, giving the links its full complement of eighteen holes. On the west side of the course was Cardigan Bay and on the east, facing the clubhouse verandah was the Dysynni estuary, a tidal river; in the background is Cader Idris and the well known local landmark of “Bird Rock”. The Clubhouse was situated close to the 18th green and comprised a general room, ladies’ room, luncheon room, and a kitchen, with a bicycle shed attached. There was also a professional’s workshop.In 1908 the committee spent a great deal of money on the construction of an earth bank some 800yds in length, six feet broad at the top, and with an average base width of twenty feet, the object of which was to protect part of the links from tidal inundation. Its exposed surface was turfed and is still visible today. It fulfilled all expectations by reclaiming some 150 acres of fine seaside turf.
The following people formed part of the original committee: R.B Yates (captain), H Haydn Jones (president), J H James, Dr H S Lowe, W Patterson and Dr Corbett (vice-presidents). E Lewis Lloyd was the Hon Secretary.
The letter below announcing the opening of the course is taken from the Cambrian News of the 24th June 1904:
“Sir, will you kindly through your column, let your readers know that the Towyn Golf Club is now an established fact, and that the links, near Morfa Towyn Farm are open for play. A very representative committee has been formed and the improvement of the nine hole course will be pushed forward. The course is at present rather rough but time and labour will, we hope, improve this. A room at Morfa Towyn Farmhouse has been rented as a golf club room, where lunch, tea and aerated waters can be had at fixed charges. This room will only be open to members of the club. Anyone desiring to join the club must be proposed and elected by the usual ballot. The entry fee for 1904 is 10/6 and subscriptions 10/6 for the same period. Casual tickets can be obtained for 1/- for one day 3/6 a week 7/6 a month. The committee wish to thank tradesmen and residents of Towyn for their generous donations without which the club could not have been formed- Yours etc E Lewis Lloyd Hon Sec.”
The first recorded minutes of a meeting were made on the 16th of June 1904, chaired by Mr Thomas Jones. It was agreed at this meeting to take the grounds over on the terms of the landlord, Mr H Haydn Jones. The actual rental for the course was fixed at the rate of £17/10/0 for the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th years, representing the years 1904/5/6 etc. The rental was to be made payable to the tenant, Mr Lewis of Morfa Farm, the farm adjoining the course.
The forming of a Mechanics Club was confirmed with an entry fee of 7/6 with 7/6 for subs for 1904. Mr John Lloyd was asked to draw up the rules and regulations for the Mechanics Club.
At a committee meeting held on the 20th of July 1904 it was decided to hold a formal opening of the links. This was to take place on the 28th of July at 2.30pm. The Hon Secretaries of Aberdovey and Harlech Golf Clubs were invited to play a round and declare the course open.
At some stage between June 1904 and the latter part of the year, the course had been extended to ten holes. Mr R B Yates (club captain) then put forward a scheme to further extend the links to18 holes. This plan seemed to have been enthusiastically supported and H H Shuker and D Davies were nominated to put the proposals to Mr Haydn Jones. Things now seemed to be moving on apace. Plans for the clubhouse and a bicycle shed were approved. The question of how to raise the money for these projects was, however, adjourned pending the reply from Mr H H Jones.
At a meeting in the Council Room on January 4th 1905 fees and subscriptions for the season were fixed at the following rates, £1/1/0 entry fee with subscriptions of £1/1/0 for men, for women and children the charges were 10/6 entry fee and 10/6 subscription. Fixed period tickets 2/- a day, 6/- a week, 10/- two weeks, 12/6 three weeks and 15/- a month. Rules and bye laws of the club were to be printed at a cost of 15/-, after being submitted to and approved by Mr R B Yates.
At the A G M in January the following budget sheet was produced:
Details of estimate:
|2 Greensmen for 13 weeks Jan/Feb/March @ 18/- each||23||8||00|
|1 Greensman for 26 weeks April to September||23||8||00|
|2 Greensmen for 13 weeks Oct/Nov/Dec||23||8||00|
|1 Boy @ 1/6, 1 Pony @ 2/6, for 30 days from Apr to Sept, 26 weeks @ 4/- a day||15||12||00|
|Horse for roller 1 day a week for 52 weeks @ 6/-||15||12||00|
|Rent for two rooms for 12 months @ 35/-||21||00||00|
|Rent of Links||7||10||0|
|Carpenter for sundry work||2||00||00|
One greensman during the summer months with a boy and pony to assist, they must have worked long hard days, although their actual hours are not known. There were grazing animals on the course which would have helped keep the grass short on the fairways during the growing season.
It is obvious that at this time two rooms were being rented at Morfa Farm for the use of the members as no clubhouse was built yet.
During March 1905 a communication was received from Newtown Golf Club challenging Towyn to a friendly match. The challenge was accepted and a date of March 11th was confirmed, although the match was actually played on the last Saturday in April. This was the first inter-club match in Towyn’s history. Despite wet weather during the previous few days the course was in good condition for play on that Saturday. The Newtown team were very impressed and congratulated the home club, not only on the condition of the course, but also on the fine surrounding scenery. The game started at 2pm and was finished for 5pm. The Towyn Club recorded a resounding victory.
|R B Yates||1||K Powell||0|
|F A Lindner||1||D H Lewis||0|
|H Atkins||1||W Harrison||0|
|N J Preston||1||A Jones||0|
|E J Evans||1||H E Breese||0|
|Rev R R Williams||1||G Astley||0|
|R M Kinsey||0||W Atkins||1|
After the match the visitors were entertained to tea in the club room followed by a friendly game on the links.
During a meeting in May Mr R B Yates presented a sketch of a small pavilion for consideration. The clubhouse would consist of two rooms, 25 feet x 15 feet and 15 feet x 8 feet respectively. It was also to have a veranda 7 feet long – perhaps not palatial, but a start. The tender of local builders, Messrs Hughes & Edwards, was accepted for the building of the clubhouse. Work was to start at once and be finished by July the 1st, under a penalty of £5 a week. The pavilion was insured for £130 and the private property of members £20. To meet the requirements of the Registrations Act, the clubhouse was to open from 10am till 6pm from October 1st to March 31st inclusive, and from 8am till 8pm from April 1st to September 30th. The following gentlemen promised to take up £10 debenture shares to assist in the cost of the building, Messrs R B Yates, Thomas Jones, Dr Lloyd, J H Hughes, J Chidlaw Roberts and John Lloyd, solicitor. With the imminent building of the clubhouse it was decided to give up the second room at Morfa Farm. Mrs Evans was willing to accept 2/6 per annum rental for the ground the pavilion was to stand on, which was in a "beautiful position"
During May a part of the course had been under water and the cost of the drainage work amounted to over £26. Mr Yates stated that the money should be raised by some means or other. In an attempt to raise cash a jumble sale was held in the Assembly Rooms. This proved to be successful and thanks were passed on to all the lady members but particularly to Mrs Yates, Mrs Chidlaw Roberts, Mrs Maethlon James and Miss Pugh.
Mr S J Cooper, the professional from Aberdovey Golf Club, played a round on the links in July and scored 79. It was reported that he got into bunkers and had some very unlucky hits. He was determined to improve on this and played again and on the Friday of the same week, he established a record for the Towyn course with a score of 76 for 18 holes.
The 19th of July saw the opening of the clubhouse. A number of ladies and gentlemen from Aberdovey attended by invitation of the committee. The club was keen to impress its neighbours and the links were in very good condition and the greens excellent for this imporant day. The Towyn Golf Club had grown from its inception and now had 78 members. At this time there were still 10 holes, and the 18 hole round was played by playing the 1st and 10th holes once, and the remaining holes twice. It was still hoped that the lease could be extended and that the course be made up to eighteen holes. There was no doubt that when the 18 hole course was completed it would be a great asset to Towyn, as it would attract many visitors. It was generally accepted that the links had been the making of nearby Aberdovey and, if the interest was kept up, Towyn would be as successful. The clubhouse was reported to be large and spacious, containing two rooms, one for gentlemen and the other for ladies. There were about 70 lockers for members to keep their golf equipment etc. The clubhouse was opened with a quite informal ceremony followed by a golf competition for a silver cup presented by the club. The results were as follows:-
R B Yates 89-15=74, Hon C Villiers 96-17=79, A Cherry 98-17=81, F A Lindner 97-15=82, S J Cooper(pro) 80-4=84, E J Evans 106-21=85, F Florent 104-18=86, H Weston 103-16=87, N J Preston 112-22=90.
This game was followed by a tea which was served by the lady members of the club, then back on the course when a mixed foursomes match was played with another silver cup for the victors.
Result -Mrs Haydn Jones & Hon C Villiers 44, Mrs Procter & Mr Florent 44, Mr Weston & Miss M Pugh 45, Mr Yates & Miss Edwards 45, Mr Preston & Miss Cook 45, S J Cooper(pro) & Mrs Weston 47, S Cherry & Mrs Abercombie 51. There was a tie for first place so it was decided to play an extra hole to decide the winner. There was a great deal of excitement in the play off which resulted in a win for the Hon C Villiers and Mrs Haydn Jones, and so a very pleasant day came to a close.
July, August and September were particularly busy months on the links with many competitions, and it was thought that some of the visitors from the Midlands, who usually played at Harlech, had decided to visit Towyn this year. With the popularity of the course growing, more visitors were playing and as a result more open competitions were organised, as well as ongoing club competitions.
Two of the major projects in the club’s early history were now coming to fruition. Extending the course to eighteen holes had been suggested and discussed earlier, but now, following a successful summer season's golf the extra holes were becoming a priority. The course had suffered through the year with flooding and in an attempt to lessen the possibility of the water coming over from the Dysini, the building of an embankment which had also been discussed at earlier meetings, was also to go ahead. The tender of a local company, Hughes & Edwards, was accepted in 1904 at a quoted price of £5 per cubic yard.
The scale of this operation with the equipment available at the time, must have been daunting. The embankment was five yards wide at the base and had sloping sides which were turfed. It was about five feet in height, and about half a mile in length. The embankment is still visible today, a lasting reminder of the club’s existence.
The rest of the year seemed to be taken up with trying to raise money for the pavilion, embankment and course extensions. The secretary was instructed to appeal through the local newspaper to townspeople and visitors for financial support. The list of guarantors for the pavilion fund was slowly growing, with the names of Col C A Arthur and Mr J M Jones being added. The greens committee held a meeting with Mr Haydn Jones and Mr Evans, the tenant of Morfa Farm, with regard to the additional land required for the course extensions.
During October 1905 the club secured the services of a professional by the name of Frank Brooklyn from Leatherhead. He was also to work as a greensman, and it was stated that, in addition, he would give lessons every Wednesday and Saturday.
While the club team were playing a return match at Newtown, back home at Towyn, the floodbank, which by now was about one third complete, was put to its first serious test, when an unusually high tide got in behind the partly finished work. Fortunately no serious damage was done. Given fine weather it was estimated that the work on the embankment should be completed in December. It was a busy period at this time with work on the new greens also being pushed forward.
Result of a match played at Criccieth on Saturday April 24th 1909.
|Mr E H Jonathan (2up)||1||Mr B de Watteville||0|
|Mr W Jones||0||Colonel Lewis (1up)||1|
|Rev J Owen||0||Mr R B Yates (3&1)||1|
|Mr J N Roberts||0||Mr Pryce Jones (5&4)||1|
|Mr J Williams||0||Mr Tom Jones (2&1)||1|
|Mr D O M Roberts||0||Mr E J Evans (4&3)||1|
|Mr J W Jones||0||Mr S Hardie (2&1)||1|
|Mr W H Williams (2&1)||1||Mr R M Kinsey||0|
|Mr J E Griffith||0||Mr L Jones (6&4)||1|
|Professional S Whiting (2up)||1||Professional G Gadd||0|
Description of the course and holes from a booklet issued by the club in 1909 -
1st Hole-300yds; bogey 4. The drive must be straight and of moderate length, otherwise you are trapped. The approach shot gives the hole its interest. It must carry a high grass bank with a dry ditch on each side. If you carry over the green you are among hummocks and rough grass.
2nd Hole-310yds; bogey 4. A drive of over 100yds will leave you on nice smooth turf. Bunkers on each side of the “pretty” catch a slice or a bad pull. With your second you should be on the green. It must be an accurate one , as the green is guarded by two bunkers, one on each side, and a run over it will probably land you in the water hazard. The water hazard is a most hazardous one, and is met with again on the 3rd and 17th tees.
3rd Hole-235yds; bogey 4.This is a blind hole. A palisade some 90yds from the tee, and at the edge of the water hazard, makes a solid looking object to negotiate. If to this is added the water hazard itself –22yds in breadth from bank to bank- and a sand bunker about 30yds beyond that, you will find you must clear about 150yds with your drive to be quite safe. The green is well protected by pot bunkers.
4th Hole-460yds; bogey 5. Is quite straightforward. Sand bunkers about 130yds from the tee keep you straight. A large belt of hummocks must be carried with your second , and a chip shot will land you on the green; two putts, and you are out in 5.
5th Hole-465yds; bogey 5. Is practically a repetition of the 4th hole, with the great difference: that if the prevailing wind helps you at the 4th it is almost dead against you at the 5th. At both these holes your driving is tested rather severely, and also your second.
6th Hole-335yds; bogey 5. Looks simple and inviting, because it is not until you have driven off that a broad dry channel becomes visible which may easily catch your second shot. It is about 220yds from the tee. It is almost impossible to play out of it, so the only to do is pick up and add one stroke to your score. The green is well guarded by bunkers and an abandoned rabbit warren on the left. The greens committee means to lengthen this hole by setting back the tee.
7th Hole-350yds; bogey 5. Will also be lengthened by about 20yds. It will then require a really good drive to clear the ditch you met with at the 5th hole. Here again you will find that a wind which may have been favourable at the 5th and 6th holes will be against you at this hole. There are a number of water channels which are dry in summer close round the green and which necessitate straight and accurate approaching. This hole is a good test of golf.
8th Hole-360yds; bogey 5. Somewhat like the 7th. The green is not so well protected. It requires a good drive and a good, straight second shot.
9th Hole-150yds; bogey 3. The first one shot hole on the course. It presents no difficulty to a straight moderate driver, but a topped shot may be punished very severely. A sliced ball is also trapped.
10th Hole-145yds; bogey 3. Another one shot hole, very prettily situated. A high and broad bank hides the green from the tee. The river guards the right side of the green and runs past the back of it, so it does not pay to overdrive the green. It is, as all one shot holes should be , a good test of accuracy in strength and direction. It is possible this hole may be lengthened to about 170yds, making it a wooden club shot.
11th Hole –325yds; bogey 5. Is sure to be lengthened soon. It is the only dog legged hole on the course. A really fine driver who is bold enough to go straight for the hole will, if successful, land on the “pretty” and be left with an iron shot to reach the green, and snatch a stroke from bogey. It requires, however, length and accuracy of direction to attain this result. The green is guarded by the river. It is at the apex of a triangle of which one side is the river and the second side the Cambrian Railway line. Both are out of bounds. Some pot bunkers also protect the green.
12thHole-330yds; bogey 5. A very sporting one indeed. The green is very well situated in a basin guarded by sand hills. Your pitch shot must stay on the green. Be short of the green or run over in any direction, and you will be punished. It is, of course, quite possible, and often (it depends on the wind) quite simple to reach the green with your second shot, but to remain there is another story. It is generally wiser to make your approach to the green a chip shot.
13th Hole-470yds; bogey 5. Rather flat and uninteresting, but a good test of long straight hitting. The green is well guarded and a very nice one to putt on.
14th Hole-320yds; bogey 5.Very like the 12th and quite as sporting. The green is in a hollow surrounded by small hillocks. A lot of natural bunkers guard it. This and the 12th are probably the best holes on the course.
15th Hole-205yds; bogey 4. Given a north wind it is quite possible to reach the green from the tee with even a cleek, but shift the wind a little, and you will find it safer to try for a four. There are a lot of traps all round which punish you very severely if you do not go dead straight. This is quite a good hole. To cover 205yds in four shots sounds very simple indeed, but from the tee it does not present equal simplicity to the eye.
16th Hole-300yds; bogey 4. A fine view of the sea from this tee. Two straight shots of moderate length and you find the green. No great difficulty anywhere so long as you keep on the course.
17th Hole-330yds; bogey 5. Here again we come across the water hazard, with another wooden palisade to protect it, which forces you to loft your ball well over its banks in your drive from the tee. A straight carry of 140yds will clear all obstacles. Add 20yds to it and you will find your brassy quite capable of reaching the green. It is on a sort of plateau, so it is necessary to be well up, otherwise you will hit the bank and lose a lot of distance. It is generally advisable (unless you have made an exceptionally good drive) to play your second to the left of the green and well up on the bank. The short approach is so much easier in this case. This hole may be lengthened out to 360yds, which will make the second shot still more difficult. A good drive in this case will be well rewarded.
18th Hole-245yds; bogey 4. This hole will be lengthened by about 30yds. At present it is to simple and easy. A fairly good drive and a short approach is all that is required at present. The green is a nice one and is close to the Club House.
Description of the course from 1909. “Generally speaking, the course is a good one. The turf is first rate, keep on the straight and you will always get a good lie for your second shot. The greens are all good, and some of them very good. The course will be improved by lengthening some of the holes. Even on the hottest day in summer there is always a nice breeze to be felt on the links. The holes point in all directions so you get a wonderful variety of shots. Whitsuntide and Summer meetings are held annually, and good prizes are offered for competition. The green fees are quite low, and up to present the course has never been overcrowded. There are some good hotels and lodging houses in the town. A professional and caretaker are always in attendance at the Golf Club House.
The present length of the course is 5635yds, and the bogey is 80. By lengthening out it is quite easy to increase the length of the course to very close on 6000yds. The membership at present (July 1909) is 137. Attention should perhaps be specially drawn to the advantage gained by Country members; they pay no entrance fee at all, merely an annual subscription of one guinea. They get, with one small exception, all the advantages of an ordinary member. The exception is that they cannot introduce a friend to play on the links free of charge. The only qualification for a Country Member is that his home or permanent residence must be more than four miles from Towyn. The committee discourages any interference with the play of members or visitors who do not care to join in the club competitions. The mere fact of joining in a competition does not (as present arranged) allow a player any advantage over one who does not feel inclined to do so. The course is a wide open one, and so there is never likely to be any danger of congestion. Within an area of about 150 acres there ought to be room for everyone to play in comfort”
|1907||N J Preston and Dr E Lewys Lloyd|
|1911-31||T Jones, Brynafor, Towyn|
|1908-12||George Gadd (p)|
|1912||Percy Bowser (p)|
|1913||A Breeze (p)|
|1914-22||E R Hanton (p) J E Davies (g)|
|1924||A Holden (p)|
|1925||A Davey (p)|
|1929||Evan Lloyd Jones (p&g)|
|1932/3||J T Schofield, Gwelafon, Towyn.||E L Jones (p&g)|
|1934-47||H F Shuker, Tymawr, Towyn.||E L Jones (p) J E Davies (g)|
Below is the result of a match played against Newtown at Towyn in April 1911.
|T Jones||1||T M Taylor||0|
|O P Jones||0||W E Pryce-Jones||1|
|R M Kinsey||0||O D S Taylor||1|
|R B Yates||1||James Wall||0|
|E J Evans (Half)||0||G Scott Owen (Half)||0|
|E D Jones||1||P Wilson Jones||0|
|O L Jones||0||J Arthur Jones||1|
|S Hardie||1||D H Lewis||0|
|J Roberts||1||R Ifor Jones||0|
|R R Roberts||1||C W Norton||0|
|George Gadd (Professional)||1||E Lewis (Professional)||0|
The home team also won the foursomes by four games to one.
Results from the Whitsuntide meeting played in June 1911. Spalding Silver Challenge Trophy, Bogey Competition; F L Hornabrook, received 9, 1 down; WH Franklin, (11) 1 down; E J Evans, (8) 3down. The tie was played off on when Mr W H Franklin was the winner. Shuker Silver Cup; W H Franklin, 88-15-73; R M Kinsey, 89-8-81; F L Hornabrook, 93-12-81. Dixon Silver Cup; F L Hornabrook, 1 down; E Derry Evans, 3 down.
Below, result of a club match played in July 1911 against Machynlleth.
|T Jones||0||C Boyce||1|
|R M Kinsey||1||Dr A O Davies||0|
|J O Franklin||1||B Jukes||0|
|E J Evans||1||D Jones||0|
|E D Evans||0||H H Meyler||1|
|B Franklin||1||J G Jenkins||0|
|H H Hornby||1||J Edwards||0|
|O L Jones||1||J G Edwards||0|
Below, result of an Open Bogey competition played in conjunction with a club match against Newtown in April 1912.
|T Jones||0||S P Powell||1|
|H E Jones (Half)||0||C T M Taylor (Half)||0|
|R M Kinsey (Captain)||1||J E G Davies||0|
|B R Jukes||1||E L Morgan||0|
|O P Jones||1||W H Rigg||0|
|E J Evans (Half)||0||Tom Morgan (Half)||0|
|W H Franklin||1||E Morgan||0|
|J C Roberts||1||J Wall (Captain)||0|
|N Cave Brown Cave||1||Rev T Jones||0|
|E D Evans||1||Sam Morgan||0|
|O L Jones||0||A N Powell||1|
|W Roberts||1||Edward Powell||0|
|S Hardie||0||C A Hackett||1|
|Dr D J Roberts||1||Henry Roberts||0|
The Silver Challenge Cup Bogey result; J C Roberts, 2down; C T M Taylor, 5down. The sweepstake was divided between; S P Powell, Tom Morgan and A N Powell. Competition played in conjunction with the above club match.
In 1914 to reflect the sometimes unpredictable weather on the Welsh coast, storm shelters were erected all over the course. There was a membership of just over 100. Entry fees for gents were £1/1/0 and ladies 10/6d. Subs for gents £1/1/0 and ladies 10/6d. Visitors’ fees were 7/6d for the first week, 5/- subsequent weeks and £1/1/0 a month. There were reduced rates for ladies and juniors. The station was ¾ mile away.
In the early 1920s course records were: amateur S C Healing (77); professional A Breeze (69). Visitors’ fees for gents were 3/- a day, 10/6d a week and £1/10/0 a month, ladies and under 16s, 1/6d, 7/-, £1/0/0. Local hotels were the Corbett, and Sandilands Hall which offered “...first class boarding residence. A large country house with southern aspect, standing in its own grounds 5 minutes to the station, sea and golf course”.
Below is the result of a club match played at Towyn against Machynlleth on Saturday 9th June 1934.
|H F Shuker||0||S Read (1up)||1|
|Dr J H M Lloyd||0||Dan Rees (3&1)||1|
|Israel Williams (4&3)||1||R W H Rees||0|
|Roger Lloyd (half)||0||Alf Lewis (half)||0|
|S Edwards||0||D J Davies (3&2)||1|
|W Allen Jones (7&6)||1||M C Jones||0|
|H V Robinson||0||O C Jones (1up)||1|
|D J Jones (4&3)||1||R Perry||0|
From 1935 to the club’s last year in 1947, the 18 hole course had a SSS of 72 and a membership of about 100. The professional course record holder was now E Jones 68. Visitors’ fees for gents were 3/- a day, 12/6d a week and £1/15/0 a month. Ladies and boys under 16 paid 2/6d, 10/-, £1/7/6 respectively. Sunday play was not allowed.
The photo above shows Evan Lloyd Jones, professional at Towyn in the 1920/30s. After the war he was head groundsman at Morfa and Tonfanau army camps, looking after all the sports grounds in both camps. He never got back into golf all that much and played very little; trouble with his hands made it difficult to play. My thanks go to Rodney, his son, who has helped a great deal with my research with the Towyn Club with pictures, plans and recollections of the course.
Attempts were made to re-establish the club following WW2 but unfortunately these proved unsuccessful.