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Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. (1908 - 1968)

Founded in 1908.

Prior to WW1 Rhayader was a very popular centre for golfers. The early nine-hole golf course in Rhayader was built on the grounds of two farms a mile east of the town, Llwyncwtta and Cefnceido. It was instigated by the Rhayader Improvement Committee and laid out by F R Rawes of Builth Wells. Little else is known about this earlier course and it probably finished with the onset of WW1 when all available ground was required for agricultural purposes to support the war effort.

Early mention of the golf course at Cefnceido in May 1908.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Cefnceido Course. Early report on the golf course in May 1908.

Brecon and Radnor Express and Carmarthen Gazette Thursday 28 May 1908. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

From the Radnor Express Thursday 16 July 1908 - "The golf course was said to be ready for opening today."

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Cefnceido Course. Report on the opening of the new course in July 1908.

Brecon and Radnor Express and Carmarthen Gazette Thursday 23 July 1908. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Evidence of the earlier club in July 1909.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Evidence of the earlier club from July 1909.

Montgomeryshire Echo Saturday 24 July 1909. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

From 1911 to the mid 1920s the secretary was T Griffiths. A 9-hole course, there was no entry fee. Subs for gents were 10/6d and ladies 7/6d. Visitors’ fees were 1/- a day and 3/6d a week. Sunday play was not allowed. The station was 1 mile away.

The club went into abeyance at the time of WW1.

It wasn't until 1925 that golf was revived in Rhayader, report below.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Report on the revival of the golf club in June 1925.

Western Mail Tuesday 2 June 1925. Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

By 1925 work had begun on the layout of the new course which was situated in the hills a mile from the town. The views overlooking the town and Wye Valley were superb. The course was laid out by the eminent golf architect, Dr Alister MacKenzie who reported,  “The site suggested for the new golf course is on a hill within easy access from Rhayader. The views are delightful and could hardly be surpassed by those on any English course. The turf is excellent, the ground is very dry, and notwithstanding the fact that I visited it during excessively wet weather there was no trace of dampness anywhere. The ground is somewhat hilly, but in the design of the holes I have attempted to reduce the hill climbing to a minimum. There are some first class natural features which would help in making a very interesting course”

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Rhayader from the golf course.

Early postcard of Rhayader from the golf course.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Later view in 2012.

I took the above picture last autumn (2012) from a similar position. The eighth green was just below the tree-line (centre right).

 

The following is from a local tourist booklet issued at the time of the re-constructed course “Here the golfer will find his requirements well catered for. No finer spot than the site of the golf course on Llawr Dderw (within one mile of the town) could be desired. It is situated on a plateau amidst charming scenery, on one side the Peerless Wye winds along the valley, while on the other a rippling cascade tumbles o’er the rocks, down the hillside and empties itself into Lake Gwynllyn, nestling in the valley below. The mountain views from the links are really superb.

No recommendation of this excellent course can be given than to state that it was designed and laid out under the instructions of Dr A MacKenzie, of Leeds, the eminent golf course architect and advisor to the Royal and Ancient, St Andrew’s, and numerous others”.

The following are extracts from Dr MacKenzie’s report; “The site suggested for the new Golf Course is on a hill within easy access from Rhayader. The views are delightful and could hardly be surpassed by those on any English course.

The turf is excellent, the ground is very dry, and notwithstanding the fact that I visited it during excessively wet weather there was no trace of dampness anywhere. The ground is somewhat hilly, but in the design of the holes I have attempted to reduce the hill climbing to a minimum.

There are some first class natural features which would help in making a very interesting course”

The descriptions of the suggested new holes were as follows:

1st Hole – 253yds - There is a quarry which makes an excellent tee shot hazard, and the site chosen for the green is visible after a well placed tee shot.

2nd Hole – 305yds - This is placed up a gentle slope and the suggested green is situated immediately above the target of the old rifle range. The tee shot must be accurately placed, as there is an “out of bounds” jutting in from the right, and the approach to the green is an interesting one.

3rd Hole – 330yds - This should make an interesting two-shot hole, and the suggested site for the green is attractively situated in a slight hollow, and the turf from tee to green is all very good.

4th Hole – 126yds - This should make a most attractive short hole, as the whole of the surface of the green is visible and is guarded by the character of its surroundings.

5th Hole – 288yds - This is played uphill, and a well placed tee shot should should give a view of the suggested site for the green, which is situated in an interesting position.

6th Hole – 476yds - The tee shot is played downhill, and a long drive should enable a player to reach the green, which is situated in a beautiful position on rising ground.

7th Hole – 117yds - This should make an excellent short hole, as the position of the green is visible and well guarded.

8th Hole – 446yds - This is a long hole downhill, and the lie of the land necessitates very accurate placing of the first and second shots.

9th Hole – 239yds - This should make a very interesting drive and pitch shot, as the position of the green should be quite visible after a well placed drive. The green is small and well guarded”

 

List of  fees etc for the year ending 31st March 1928; Subscription - Gentlemen  £1/1/0; Ladies   15/-; Family tickets (not exceeding 3), £2/2/0 each; each additional member of family 10/6; Juniors up to 18 years of age, half fees; Short period fees, 12/6 a month, 7/6 per week, 2/6 day. Tickets could be obtained from the Hon. Secretary of the Golf Club, Mr T C Price, Chemist, Rhayader.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Mackenzie's suggested layout.

Mackenzie's suggested layout.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Revised later layout.

Layout plans of the Rhayader golf course, with differing yardages. The top one is from 1926 and shows Mackenzie’s initial planned yardages. The one above is from 1928 and shows the actual yardages when the course was completed.

 

In June 1928 Colonel R E Blyth, a frequent visitor to Rhayader, set a course record of 39 for the “new” course. 

It was reported in May 1930 that “The Rhayader Golf Club are evidently going to have some first class golfing. They now possess a beautiful Challenge Bowl which will be competed for during the next months” 

On Tuesday 3 June 1930 the Rev Evan Jenkins accomplished a hole in one on the 126 yard fourth hole.   

In August 1930 Mr E A Collard and Mr T C Price playing in the second round of the Challenge Bowl had a neck to neck tussle Mr Price winning on the 18th hole. The course was in excellent condition and keen play was expected in the up-coming rounds of the competition. 

In August 1931 Mr L W Wheeler, a visitor staying at the Castle Hotel Rhayader, created a new course record of 37, it included a hole in one at the seventh. 

Fund raising events were important for the Rhayader Golf Club. In November 1931 there was a good attendance at the St Clement Hall for a whist drive and dance. The proceeds went towards the upkeep and improvement of the course. Mrs Lippiatt distributed the prizes to the winners and also presented the Challenge Bowl and replica to this year’s winner Mr T Price. Prizes for the dance were presented by Mrs T Sevan. On the proposition of Mr T C Price and seconded br Mr E A Collard thanks to the ladies and M Cs, Mr E Evans and Capt Gordon Lewis. The music was provided by the Snowdrop orchestra. 

Information on a couple of the leading members of the club; In December 1931 a shop which offered a wide range of Christmas gifts was that of Mr T C Price. Mr E A Collard, Elan House, Mr Collards name had spread far and wide on account of his prize milking herd and butchery business.  

Result of a club match played at Builth Wells in April 1934.

Builth Wells Golf Club   Rhayader Golf Club  
D J Morgan 1 E C Jones 0
E J Duggan 0 H C Rowlands 1
Rev H G Griffith 1 F Waite 0
S F Waters 0 D A James 1
Dan Thomas 0 R A Davies 1
J M Jones 0 R Sladen 1
A T Price 0 T O Price 0
J S Jones 0 W Sylvester 1
J Brock 1 J H Ferni 0
D Savage 1 T Griffiths 0
  4   5

Result of a match against Hay Golf Club (now defunct) played in May 1934.

Rhayader Golf Club   Hay Golf Club  
H C Rowlands 1 W W Hughes 0
F Waite 1 C R Ryman 0
T C Price 1 G Lewis 0
W Sylvester 0 D M Maddy 0
T Griffiths 0 H R Grant 1
R L Ryder 0 T Madigan 1
Capt. G Lewis 1 A E Birch 0
  4   2

From 1936 to 1949 the secretary was F Waite, Elan Village and the green-keeper J Morgan. Amateur course record holder was L W Wheeler with a score of 37. Visitors’ fees were 2/- a day and 7/6d a week. Local hotels were the Lion and the Royal.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Judge's postcard of the course.

Judge’s Postcard of the Rhayader course.

 

The course is marked to the north on the 1940/50s Ordnance Survey Map below.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. The course marked on the 1940/50s O.S. Map.

O.S. Map Revised 1948 - © Crown Copyright {year of publication 1953}.

 

From 1951 to the club’s final appearance in 1968, the secretary was W Morse, Barclays Bank House, Rhayader. The professional was W Grabham and the greenkeeper A Lewis. A 9-hole course with a membership of about 35. Sunday play was allowed from 1952. Local advertised hotels were the Castle and the Elan Valley. All other information was as 1949.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Location of the second course.

Location of the course in the 1930s. Grid reference SN955260,69160, co-ordinates, 295520,269160.

 

In the early 1990s an attempt was made to open another golf course at Llwynbaedd, one mile east of Rhayader. This was a nine-hole golf course with a covered floodlit driving range, non licensed club house etc. This lasted until September 1996 when the owner decided to call it a day. The ground was sold back to the farmer and reverted to farmland.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Location of the 1990s course.

Location of the 1990s course. Grid reference, SN99960,69760, co-ordinates, 299960,269760.

 

Following are some recent photographs of the former course taken by the author.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. The first hole 2004.

Above is a photograph taken in 2004. It shows the first hole. The ninth green was to the left played from a tee top left.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Second fairway 2012.

The second fairway ? (2012).

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. Approach to the second.

Approach to the second/sixth ? green.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. First and eighth greens.

The eighth green on the right and the first green on the left.

 

Rhayader Golf Club, Powys. The former eighth green.

Former green.