Ashley Park Golf Club, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
The club first appeared in 1890.
The following is taken from a book entitled "The Sassoons of Ashley Park" (1999) written by Michael Dane. Sadly Michael Dane died in 2014. I would like to thank Mrs Dane for allowing us to reproduce the extract from the book. I would also like to thank Dixon Pickup for his help in researching the history of Ashley Park Golf Club.
Joseph Sassoon Sassoon the big land owner in the area took a very keen interest in sport, particularly involving himself and the Walton-on-Thames villagers in establishing good quality cricket club. A friend of W G Grace both Billy Murdoch and Walter Read turned out for the village, a later tenant of Ashley Cottage (a large house formerly the estate Ranger's dwelling was another Australian player F R Spofforth).
Joseph Sassoon soon caught the 'golf bug' and decided to create a nine-hole course on land lying between Ashley Road, Station Avenue, Hersham Road and Stompond Lane. To bring this to fruition he called upon the services of his gardener, James Albert Steer*. Then aged 29 he laid out the course during 1890, using only hand and horsepower. The shortest hole was 120yds and the longest 410yds, standard hazards included trees, ditches and bunkers. Play commenced in the Autumn of 1890 with Steer becoming the pro/green-keeper, later becoming equally proficient in club and gutta percha ball making. Joseph Sassoon became the club's President with Arthur Read as Captain, both entry fee and annual subscription were 2 guineas. 100 members were soon found later rising to 125. A thatched building on the estate not far from the station served as an early changing room but the Ashley Park Hotel, recently built on land opposite the station (sold by Joseph to a brewery concern) soon became the head-quarters of the club and could naturally accommodate visiting golfers. Joseph became a proficient player as did his second son David and sister Louise (photograph of her playing below).
In 1904 a cricket match probably an annual event took place between the cricket and golf clubs. The club continued to be a success until 1905, when Joseph, needing to realise some extra capital to continue financing his house and estate upkeep, plus the education of his many children, decided that the sale of the land nearest the station, ( the golf course), for residential development was the only answer.
As he did not want the existing members to be inconvenienced he approached the Viscount (later Earl) Iveagh (head of the Guinness family). Iveagh had some time earlier purchased the nearby Burhill House and estate. The house had recently become available for development following the death of the incumbent, the Dowager Duchess of Wellington. In brief 300 acres, sufficient for two 18 hole courses and the use of the house as club HQ and part dormy house was negotiated on a 28 year lease. All the members of Ashley Park Golf Club were offered membership when the new Burhill Golf Club opened the following year. Prince Alexander of Teck became the President and Arthur Read was elected as its first Captain.
A final dinner marking the end of the Ashley Park Golf Club was held in May 1907 at the Ashley Park Hotel, presentation of a gold watch was made to Arthur Read for his services as Captain for all seventeen years of the club's existence. An illuminated address signed by all members was given to Joseph Sassoon - "The members of Ashley Park Golf Club desire to express by this address their deep sense of gratitude to their President, Joseph Sassoon Sassoon J.P. for his unexampled generosity in allowing them the free use of his Park for golf during the last seventeen years and also having acted as their President for this long time, and for countless acts of kindness shown to them since the club was started in 1890".
*J A Steer eventually became a prominent golf course architect and club maker. He spent a large majority of his professional career at Blackpool Golf Club at Squires Gate. This club became defunct at the time of WW2 and the land is now occupied by Blackpool Airport.
In 1906 the secretary was Arthur Read, Ashley Park, Walton-on-Thames and the professional J A Steer. A 9-hole course, Visitors’ fees on introduction were 1/6 a day and 30/- a month. The Oaklands Park Hotel was one mile from Ashley Park Golf Club.
Ashley Park Golf Club had disappeared before WW1.
The Google Map below pinpoints the location of the former course.