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South Leeds Golf Club. (1906 - 2019)

Club founded in 1906 by three local businessmen, Mr Harry Howell, Mr J Pratt and Mr Frederick J Brown.

It was reported in January 1907 that South Leeds had attained its own golf club. Good progress had been made on laying out the nine-hole course at Stourton. The club had attracted 25 members but more were needed to raise funds for improving the course.

The course at Stourton was short lived and in 1908 the club moved to a course at Rothwell Haigh.

In 1914 the club moved to Beeston where it stayed until closure. The course was restructured by Dr Alister MacKenzie in 1923 when the Middleton Ring Road was built through the course.

It was reported in November 2019 that the club and course would be closing on 25 November. Vandalism, declining membership and rising prices stated as being the main reasons for closure.

In May 1907 Sir John Lawson Walton M.P for South Leeds accepted the presidency of the South Leeds Golf Club.

The following article is from The Yorkshire Evening Post November 7th 1907; “SOUTH LEEDS GOLF CLUB – IMPROVEMENT ON THE COURSE. Evidence of the interest in golf in Leeds is to be found in the progress which is being made in connection with the South Leeds Club.

With an increased membership and more means at their disposal the promoters of the club are gradually converting the very rough and miry land which they acquired over a year ago into a useful and golf-like course. There is yet room for considerable improvement, and much money and energy will need to be expended on “livening the turf” draining the land, and laying the greens before good golf can be obtained.

Still, the committee of the club are proceeding earnestly to tackle the task before them. They are closing in some very wide water-courses, which prove of great trouble to even moderate players, and are a terror to novices; and a new horse-mower will soon remove the last traces of superfluous grass. At present the course is limited to nine-holes, of lengths varying from 112 to 306 yards.

A considerable number of new members have recently been enrolled, attracted by the improved conditions and the concession of Sunday play from October to April, as well as by the fact that an entrance fee will be demanded at the end of this year. More members are, however, required to put the club on a paying basis. The trams to Rothwell or Wakefield run so near the course that one can tee-off within half hour of leaving Boar Lane.”

The final round by match play for the 1907 medal was played in March 1908. The competitors were Mr Brown (9), captain, and Mr J Pratt (16). Mr Pratt won by 3 and 2. The course was still nine-holes and the membership was about 50. The course with its natural hazards demanded accurate play, the bogey was 35. The secretary in 1908 was James Shurmer.

 

South Leeds Golf Club. Damage on the Stourton Golf Links.

From The Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer June 25th 1908. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

The above must have been the last straw for the members at Stourton and they eventually decided to make a move to a course at Rothwell Haigh.  

Result of the 1910 October medal; Fred Ellison, 82-10-72; J Clark, 96-20-76; J W Kirk, 107-30-77; E Thompson, 93-15-78; C E Fox, 106-28-78; J Pratt, 88-9-79; C Benn, 91-12-79; F J Brown, 86-7-79; W Turner, 95-16-79; J Blakey, 109-30-79; G Rogers, 95-15-90; W Gill, 84-4-80; A Ball, 104-22-82; G Stembridge, 104-22-82; E Schofield, 102-20-82.

Result of the December 1912 medal; First Division -  D McCandlish, 89-14-75; E B Lawson, 97-17-80; J W Kirk, 100-16-84; W Fretwell, 101-16-85; F Ellison, 94-8-86; Second Division – P Evered, 103-22-81; J L Butler, 109-28-81; W Harrison, 113-24-89; H Clark, 107-18-89; G C Cutler, 117-28-89. 

The annual meeting was held in the Salem Institute in February 1914, Walter Hargreaves presided. The club had a satisfactory year financially and also an increase in membership to 122. A new clubhouse had been erected during the year together with new furnishings. The following officials were elected; president, J S Charlesworth; vice-presidents; E A Brotherton, Walter Hargreaves, C F Ryder; hon. secretary, J H Gawthorpe; hon. Treasurer, D McCandlish; captain, W H Turner; vice-captain, F J Brown; committee – F J Armstrong, H L Baker, F G Brown, J Prince, E B Lawson, J MackenzieJ Pratt, W Simpkiss and W H Turner.

It was reported in October 1914 that South Leeds Golf Club (Limited) where to move to a course at Beeston. It also went on to say that the “South Leeds golfers are looking forward to possession of a good and interesting course at Beeston. Such terms can hardly be applied to their present course at Bean’s Farm, Rothwell Haigh.”

Report on the new course in November 1914.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Report on the new course in November 1914.

Yorkshire Evening Post Saturday 14 November 1914. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD./p>

 

The club subsequently obtained the tenancy of Parkside Farm and Top Parkside Farm, Gypsy Lane, and the club briefly became known as Parkside Links, it was appearing as South Leeds Golf Club prior to WW1.

The course was restructured by Dr Alister MacKenzie in the early 1920s when the Middleton Ring Road was laid down and ran through the course, despite this, the club remained at this location until closure in 2019. 

Report on the construction of a road through the course in January 1921.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Report on the new road through the course in January 1921.

Yorkshire Evening Post Saturday 8 January 1921. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Despite the problems with the course the South Leeds club hosted the second meeting of the Yorkshire Union of Professional Golfers foursomes on Tuesday 25 January 1921. The first annual meeting was played at Harrogate in 1913. The big gap between the first and the second of these meetings was due to the intervention of the war. A remarkable feature of the contest was that it was under handicap, a very rare thing in a professional event. There was no handicap worse than scratch the top pair were plus 5. At this time the course measured 4,551 yards with a bogey of 73. Leading scores; S Trapp (Wakefield) and J C Johnson (Halifax,) 77+2=79; J Scarth (Doncaster) and C Sayner (Hallamshire,) 81+3=84; H Tuck (Hull) and E H Cassidy (Pannal,) 81+3=84.

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Well known professionals at South Leeds In January 1921.

Leeds Mercury Wednesday 26 January 1921. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ­

 

Many thanks to Neil Crafter for allowing us to use the following text extracts and pictures from his archive regarding the involvement of Dr. Alister MacKenzie at South Leeds Golf Club in the 1920s.

A report in the ‘Yorkshire Post’ on 6 January 1923 quoted the club secretary as saying that the club had; “constructed an entirely new course on the design of Dr Mackenzie, and the work has been carried out by Messrs. C.A. Mackenzie and Co. We are not yet playing over the new greens. We are desirous of getting it into condition for the spring of 1923.” The golf writer went over the course “yesterday” and was “agreeably surprised with the work that has been done. South Leeds has been transformed into a really good course.”

The golf writer followed up with a long article on 1 May 1923, just prior to the new course’s opening on 5 May. He began by saying that “it frequently happens that what looks at the time like a crushing adversity turns out to be a blessing in disguise. This at any rate has been the experience of the South Leeds Golf Club.” He described their move before the war to a new course on the Dewsbury Road, “though an improvement on the old spot, was also as a matter of fact very poor stuff.” The cloud then showed its silver lining with the proposal to cut the ring road through the course, as: “out of the compensation awarded fresh land has been taken and a more interesting new course has been constructed by Messrs. C. A. Mackenzie and company to the designs of Dr Mackenzie. It will be a notable addition to the golfing facilities of Leeds and a far better course than even the most optimistic of South Leeds members ever dreamed of possessing. In addition the ring road, which at one time was hated as a destroyer, now provides a fine approach in place of the old, spring-breaking muddy lane, and it carries a motor ‘bus service which makes South Leeds the most easily approachable club in the district.”

The reconstruction led to some interesting discoveries – one was that “old and unsightly pit heaps, relics of the days of active mining in the district, are ready-made golfing “features.” Quite a number of the greens are laid out on the old heaps, and the work which has been done has converted these pit heaps into things of beauty.” The other find was that calcined shale, an old by-product of the mining activities, made an excellent substitute for sand in the bunkers, and in some ways was better than sand. It had a reddish-brown colour that looked attractive in the bunkers, and would not clump together or get muddy.

The new course was just under 6,000 yards, and as was MacKenzie’s practice wherever possible, laid out in two loops of nine holes. Four of the first nine greens were sited over old pit heaps, while the 3rd hole was described as a “full two-shotter of 400 yards,” with a green “built up in much the same manner as the famous Road hole on the St. Andrews Old course.” The 13th was a short hole “recalling in its main features the Eden hole at St. Andrews,” with the round finishing on a picturesque green out in front of the clubhouse.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. The reopening of the course in May 1923.

The Yorkshire Evening Post Monday 7 May 1923. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

The club’s history book records that when the course was completed in 1923 the contrast between the new holes and the retained old holes was so great that the club decided to redesign and reconstruct these old holes, and payments made to MacKenzie and his brother’s firm in 1923 and 1924 bear this out.

MacKenzie wrote about South Leeds in his article "The Growth of Golf in Leeds" in the October 1923 issue of “Golfing,” confirming that the previously retained old holes were reconstructed as well: “The South Leeds Golf Course is very accessible, and it is situated near the most populous part of Leeds. To the despair of the Club a new ring road was planned to run through the centre of the course, but this in reality proved a blessing in disguise, as it necessitated the remodeling of the course. The new course was designed in two loops of nine holes, and in the first instance the writer proposed to retain some of the existing holes which were quite good and for which the members had an affection. When the new holes had been constructed the contrast was so great between them and the remaining ones on the old course, that the members changed their views and took an intense dislike to those old holes which had previously found favour, and insisted on all of them being scrapped and new ones constructed in their place.” 

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Layout of the new course in 1923.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Approach to the eighteenth hole at South Leeds in 1923.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. The railway hole, the ninth, in 1923.

Above images courtesy of Neil Crafter.

 

MacKenzie later revisited the South Leeds course prior to leaving on his trip to Australia in September 1926, and wrote to the golf writer at the ‘Yorkshire Post’ about his impressions, although the writer did not mention him by name – he was referred to as a “well-known authority on golf courses” - his correspondent was almost certainly MacKenzie, as below this article was another on his upcoming world tour. MacKenzie was astonished at the way the course had come on since he last saw it, saying that the greens would stand comparison with those on most Yorkshire courses and that the round was full of sporting interest. He said that: “The surface of every green is visible for the second shot, and at almost every hole you have to place your tee shot very accurately to have anything like a reasonably easy second. The bunkers are most natural looking, and the red shale, which have been used as a substitute for sand, has turned out to be most successful. In many respects it is better than the inland sand used on most golf courses.”

In the 36-hole final of the Club Cup in July 1926 the club captain, F Burns (handicap 5) beat A J Duffill (1) by 4 and 3.

In September 1926 F H Foss, well known member, holed in one at 163 yard 14th hole.

Prize presentation in July 1927.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Prize presentation in July 1927.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Prize presentation in July 1927.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Monday 25 July 1927. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.­

 

Result of the Burton Cup Competition played in July 1928; A B Mortimer (12) 73, 67, 140; M Connor (17) 73,71, 144; H Farrell (8) 73,72, 145; J Pratt (7) 73,73, 146; P Pope (18) 73, 74, 147.

A satisfactory report and balance sheet was produced at the annual meeting in February 1929, F J Brown presided. He stated that the membership was 450; 310 men and 140 women. Keith Robertson, retiring captain, announced F A N Howson as his successor, vice captain was to be Rev. D H S Mould vicar of Hunslet. H T Howell, professional, was congratulated on his election as president of the Yorkshire Union of Professional Golfers.

In the final of the 36-hole annual cup competition played in July 1932 E Heaps (7) beat F A Howson (6) by 6 and 5.

In the final of the clubs Scratch Trophy played in August 1932 E Hall, the holder, beat P Pounds by one up.

From the 1933 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership 450; secretary – C C Edwards, 238 Cross Flatts Grove, Beeston, Leeds; professional, H T Howell; green-keeper, J Coates; course records; amateur – F W Duffill, 67; professional – H T Howell, 70.

Report on the annual meeting in March 1934.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Report on the annual meeting in March 1934.

Yorkshire Evening Post Monday 19 March 1934. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

In November 1934 Mr & Mrs H T Howell celebrated an aggregate of 50 years at South Leeds Golf Club. Howell had been professional for 26 years and Mrs Howell had been stewardess for 24 years. Like most professionals Howell started his career as a caddie. It was at Royal West Norfolk Golf Club at Brancaster. He saw the first hole cut there when the course opened in 1892, seven years later he was appointed professional at a club in Peterborough. He eventually moved to Leeds working as an engine cleaner. It was while going to a football match he saw three men swinging golf clubs. The men were Messrs. Sherman, Rickards and Ellison. He borrowed a club and ball, joined in their game and this started his association with South Leeds Golf Club. Such was his love for the game that he cut the greens, filled the sand boxes and looked after the course without payment. In 1908 the club moved to Rothwell on land called Bean’s (or Bleach) Farm on the right side of Wakefield Road. In 1909 Howell was appointed professional.

In April 1935 H Barker, a member of the greens committee, holed in one at the 167 yard eighth hole.

In June 1935 Eric Heaps holed his tee shot on the 12th hole in a match against J A Beaumont. The hole measured 316 yards and was a bogey 4, an exceptional hole in one. Mr C C Edwards, club secretary, was a spectator.

In November 1936 the secretary, Charles Edwards, retired after 18 years in the post. Mr & Mrs Edwards were to spend their retirement at Scraborough.

In the August 1937 monthly medal Eric Heaps broke the course record with a round of 65. He was the easy winner with a net 63.

It was reported in June 1941 that Harry Howell, who had been professional for 34 years, was to retire at the end of the month. Mrs Howell had been stewardess for 26 years.

At the annual meeting in March 1942 Leslie Lindley and Leonard Brown were elected captain and vice-captain. A profit of £14/5 shillings was reported for the year.  

In the final of the South Leeds Challenge Cup in September 1945 L Lindley (4) beat D Dunne (13) by 3 and 2.

From the 1947 and 1951 Golfer’s Handbook; Parkside Links, Dewsbury Road; membership 300; secretary – J Whittam3 Cardinal Road, Leeds; professional and green-keeper, Alex Smith; course records; amateur – E Heaps, 65; professional - H T Howell, 70; 18-holes, Par and SSS 69; visitors; 2s/6d round, 3s/6d day (weekdays); 3s/6d a round, 5s a day (weekend).

GH 1956/7; membership 270; secretary – R E Bainbridge, 157, Swinnow Lane, Leeds; professional, Alex Smith; green-keeper, A D Mason.

GH 1961/64; membership 350; secretary – R E Bainbridge, 60 Manston Avenue, Leeds; professional, Brian English; green-keeper, R Blackburn; 18-holes, 5,287 yards; visitors; 2s/6d round, 3s/6d day (weekdays); 5s a round, 7s/6d a day (weekend).

GH 1966; Founded 1914; Parkside Links, Dewsbury Road; membership 300; secretary – R E Bainbridge, 60 Manston Avenue, Leeds; professional, A Hirst; green-keeper, J Smith; course records; amateur – E Heaps, 65; professional - H T Howell, 70; 18-holes, 5,845 yards, SSS 68.

GH 1972/75; Membership, 350 (1972,) 400 (1975); secretary, R E Bainbridge (1972) I D Long (1975); professional, G Howard; course records; amateur – E Heaps, 65; professional – D Jagger, 69; visitors - £1.10p, (£1.65).

Scorecard showing a different layout of the course in 1979 from the plan shown in 1923.

 

South Leeds Golf Club. Scorecard, course plan and local rules from 1979.

 

South Leeds Golf Club. Scorecard, course plan and local rules from 1979.

 

South Leeds Golf Club. Scorecard, course plan and local rules from 1979.

Images courtesy of Colin Barker who played the course in September 1979.

 

GH 1982; Membership 500; secretary, G Davis; professional, J T Kerr; amateur course record; M Guy, 68; visitors, £5.

GH 1985/88; Membership 500; secretary, W G Ward; professional, J T Kerr; visitors - £6, (£7).

In the early 1990s the club had a membership of 560; secretary, J McBride; professional, M Lewis; 18-holes, 5,835 yards, SSS 68; course records; amateur – M Guy, 66; professional – B Waites, 68.

In the late 1990s the professional was Mike Lewis.    

In 2004/6 the club membership was 450. The secretary was B Clayton; professional, Laurie Turner; 18-holes, 5.865 yards, SSS 68. Visitors - £18, (£25).

In 2009 the secretary was B Clayton; professional, N Sheard.

In 2014 the secretary was B Clayton. 

The following message appeared on the South Leeds Golf Club Official Facebook page in November 2019. “By now I’m sure you are all aware that the golf club can no longer operate and subject to satisfying some conditions the business will cease to trade from Monday 25 November. Clearly this is a very sad and upsetting situation but despite every effort to keep the business afloat all options have now been exhausted. We are planning for the weekend and the hope is that we can stage one final competition over 18 holes and then have an evening together in the bar. Members and ex members are more than welcome.”

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Course scorecard.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Course hole profiles.

Scorecard and hole profiles ©SkyGolf360.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. The South Leeds clubhouse and course.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. The clubhouse and course.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. View of the former course.

 

South Leeds Golf Club, Beeston Course. Picture showing vandalism to the course.

Picture showing vandalism to the course.