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West Kent Golf Club, Bickley.

Construction of the course at Bickley began in 1914 but due to the onset WW1 the work took some time to complete. The course was designed by Herbert Fowler and T Simpson, with input from James Braid.  

It was reported in June 1916 that the West Kent Golf Club had opened. An 18-hole course near Bickley, at 300ft above sea level. The site was owned by a company called Wythe Estates.

The first professional at West Kent was Frank Roberts who joined the club in 1916, he continued until the course closed at the time of WW2.

On Saturday 17th May 1919 James Braid, Harry Vardon, J H Taylor and Ted Ray played an exhibition match on the West Kent course. Ray and Taylor tied for the lead at the turn with 37, Vardon and Braid being 41 and 43 respectively. On the homeward stretch Ray putted with deadly accuracy, scores; Ray 77, Taylor 78, Vardon 84 and Braid, 86.

It seems that Ted Ray had developed a liking for the West Kent course at Bickley. On Saturday 10th October 1925 the club held a £200 tournament and Ray took the first prize of £75. In the first round he equalled the course record of 72, he bettered that by one stroke in his second round. Leading scores; Ted Ray (Oxhey), 72 + 71 = 143; A G Havers (Coombe Hill), 73 + 73 = 146; Abe Mitchell (Unattached), 74 + 74 = 148; Fred Robson (Cooden Beach), 77 + 72 = 149; George Gadd (Roehampton), 76 + 73 = 149; W B Smith (Hadley Wood), 75 + 77 = 152; George Duncan (Wentworth Park), 75 + 77 = 152; J H Taylor (Mid Surrey), 74 + 79 = 153; C A Whitcombe (Crews Hill), 76 + 78 = 154; Harry Vardon (South Herts), 78 + 78 = 156; C Johns (Purley Downs), 77 + 79 = 156; H C Jolly (Foxgrove), 80 + 78 = 158; Alex Herd (Moor Park), 77 + 81 = 158; Len Holland (Gerrards Cross), 83 + 76 = 159; W L Ritchie (Addington), 80 + 79 = 159.   

The West Kent Course scorecard - 18-holes; 6,239 yards, SSS 74.

Out;  Hole One - 308 yards, Bogey 4; Two - 152, 3; Three - 418, 4; Four - 435, 5; Five - 176, 3; Six - 408, 4; Seven - 330, 4; Eight - 440, 5; Nine - 326, 4; Out - 2,993 yards; Bogey, 36.

Home; Hole Ten - 170 yards, Bogey 3; Eleven - 463, 5; Twelve - 435, 5; Thirteen - 161, 3; Fourteen - 346, 4; Fifteen - 471, 5; Sixteen - 348, 4; Seventeen - 312, 4; Eighteen - 440, 5; Home - 3,246 yards: Bogey, 38.

 

West Kent Golf Club, Bickley. Layout of the West Kent course at Bickley.

West Kent course layout at Bickley.

 

West Kent Golf Club, Bickley. The thirteenth hole at Bickley.

The Par 3 thirteenth green.

 

In August 1929 F McGloine of the West Kent club played in the Boys' Amateur Championship at the Edinburgh Burgess Golf Society course.

 

West Kent Golf Club. From the Illustrated Sporting Dramatic News October 1930.

From The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News October 4th 1930. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

West Kent Golf Club, Bickley. Article from The Tatler November 1934.

From The Tatler November 7th 1934. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

On Tuesday January 7th 1934 Mr J F McGloin, director of the Imperial Advertising Agency, took over as captain of the West Kent Golf Club. He was the father of Francis McGloin who at 18 years of age was the Kent Champion in 1933.

On Monday 30th April 1934 the Australian cricketers paid a visit to the course to play a team from the West Kent club. The winners for the Australians were L Darling and A Mailey, who respectively, beat E Borradaile by 8&7 and L W Fyson by 3&1. The best golfers of the Australian cricketers were S McCabe who halved with Francis McGloin jun., and Don Bradman. The latter was partnered by C L Leman, a club member, in a foursome and they won by a hole against C Grimmett and B S Farnfield, a West Kent member.    

In June 1934 O Austreng, a young member of the West Kent Club, won the Kent Amateur Championship when he beat Dr J A Flaherty (Langley Park) by 3 and 2 in the final at Langley Park.

West Kent Golf Club, Bickley. Article from The Bystander November 1935.

 

West Kent Golf Club, Bickley. Article from The Bystander November 1935.

From The Bystander November 27th 1935. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

On Wednesday December 2nd 1936 the West Kent Golf Club held their annual dinner at the White Hart Hotel, Bromley.  

The final record for West Kent Golf Club at Golf Road.  The secretary was E T Kyle, 14 Hawthorne Road, Bickley. The professional was the long serving Frank Roberts. The green-keeper was W Goodwin. The 18-hole course had a SSS of 74. Course records were, amateur, O Austreng and H G S Penman 70, professional W T Twine and S King 69.

Visitors’ fees on introduction, 2/6 a day, weekends and Bank holidays 5/- a day, 15/- a week, 25/- a month. There were stations at Chislehurst ½ mile, Bickley ¾ mile.

In April 1939 the course was requisitioned by the War Ministry. Trenches were dug, roadways were made and anti-aircraft guns were erected on parts of the course. For a time the members played around theses "obstacles." The clubhouse was destroyed by a bomb in September 1940 and everything was lost,  it was becoming impossible to play over the course.

An alternative would be to take over the liquidated Bromley & Bickley course from Bromley Corporation.

In September 1940 the members decided to move to the 18-hole course vacated by the Bromley & Bickley Golf Club in Magpie Hall Lane. The club struggled to keep things together financially during the war years; this was the case with many clubs.

At the end of the war Bromley Council planned to build a school and playing fields on the site occupied by the Bromley & Bickley course. The space left after the construction of the school meant it would only be suitable for a nine-hole course, nowadays this is Bromley Golf Club, a municipal nine-hole golf course.

The owners of Downe Golf Club, as it was then known, were keen to reinstate their course at Orpington. Representatives of West Kent Golf Club got together with the owners of Downe Golf Club and a new club was formed in 1947. West Kent Golf Club members eventually bought the land in 1957 and the West Kent Golf Club continues to thrive.

Downe Golf Club disappeared. 

Thanks to Doug George in 2004 for the following information regarding the former site of West Kent Golf Club “West Kent Golf Club was situated in Golf Road, Bickley, Bromley. The original course was taken over by the government at the beginning of world war two, single storey buildings were erected on part of the golf course nearest the old clubhouse, these buildings were built to become an emergency hospital if needed. The buildings were eventually used by the war department as an engineering department. Part of the ground that was left became an anti-aircraft gun emplacement and the rest was left to grow wild. Some years ago the old gun emplacement and the wild area were turned into what is now Jubilee Park, a public wild life park. One can still see remnants of old bunkers on close scrutiny. The part that was used by the war department is destined to be sold as a new house build site”

 

West Kent Golf Club. Location of the golf course at Bickley.

Location of the West Kent course at Bickley.

Grid reference TQ43945,68055, co-ordinates 543945,168055.