A History Of Haste Hill Golf Club
Part 2. The Development Of Ruislip - Northwood Municipal Golf Course
The Ruislip-Northwood Municipal Sports Ground opened at Haste Hill on Saturday 27th July 1929, which included the first municipal golf course to be laid down in the county of Middlesex. Chairman of Ruislip-Northwood Council, Mr Mitchell declared that the sports ground completed a chain of open space extending from Northwood, across Ruislip & Eastcote. He hoped ‘there would always be a friendly feeling between Northwood & Haste Hill Golf Courses’, and hit a drive off the first tee to declare the 60 acre, 9-hole course open. Mr T R Parker, a local Councillor, pivotal in the agreement to grant the local community a public golf course, then hit a brassie (2-wood) shot. This is the Mr Parker who in 1933 donated a trophy, we still play for today, The Parker Cup. Sir Charles Pinkham, Alderman, and Chairman of Middlesex County Council then struck a mashie (approximate to a modern pitching wedge) and the last shot was played by Alderman Mr H Marlow-Read, Vice Chairman of Middlesex County Council.
The first full round of 18 holes (twice around the course) was then played as a fourball by;
Sandy Herd, architect for the course, Open Champion of 1902, Open runner up on several more occasions and the golf professional at Moor Park.
John Henry Taylor who was another local resident and a huge supporter of public golf courses. He felt strongly the sport should not be just the preserve of those that could afford the fees at private clubs. Taylor was The Open Champion of 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 & 1913, was Britain’s winning Ryder Cup Captain in 1933 and a co-designer of Pinner Hill.
Robert ‘Bob’ or ‘Bert’ Pearson was the first course professional and manager at Haste Hill, he lived upstairs in the clubhouse, with his wife. His duties extended to providing catering and waiting staff for the pavilion and collecting green fees from the golfers as well as teaching the game.
Mr H R Metcalfe, council surveyor for the course and manager of the contractors that laid down the sports ground.
That first match ended in what was a possibly diplomatic draw.
The Pavilion as it was originally built was just the central section of what exists today, without the wings at each end and was only around 80% of its current depth (as can be seen by the columns in the main bar area, that are the original front wall).
There certainly would not have been much in the way of services for golfers in the pavilion, as golf was still very much seen as a sport you just turned up, played and off you went, after 18 holes. It is more likely to have been primarily changing rooms for the sports pitches. There were however lockers for hire & golfers could use the changing rooms. Some refreshments were available
Whilst it was a pay & play course from the start, annual season tickets were available, although there was a rather more formal application process, at the time. Application was made to and considered by the Golf Management Committee, set up by the council and made up of council employees.
Season tickets were renewable on 1st April each year. A 7 day season ticket was £3 13s 6d & a 5 day season ticket (no weekends or public holidays) £2 12s 6d. Pay & play prices were 1s 6d for 18 holes, whilst a day ticket was 2s 6d. The council also offered a 1 week pass for 7s 6d and a 1 month pass for £1. Until 1936, the course even opened on Christmas Day, until 1pm. In the decimalised currency of today, the price of the 7 day season ticket would equate to £3.68 and a single 18 hole round would be 13 pence. Players could also hire a locker for an annual fee of 7s 6d. Robert ‘Bert’ Pearson, the club professional offered lessons at the rate 4s for 1 hour of instruction or 2s 6d for 30 minutes.*
That first summer of 1929, was very hot & dry with the course considered to be in poor condition as a result of the drought. Irrigation was provided by a 20 year old ‘Shand Mason Steamer Pump’, a recycled fire engine that had been retired from service, locally. The pump would have been a tank of water set upon a steam powered carriage that was driven to wherever on the course watering was required.
By 14th October 1929, 39 applications for season tickets had been made and all were successful. This date is key to the history of Haste Hill Golf Club as a meeting was held that evening to elect officers to a ‘Committee of Season Ticket Holders’. A committee of four were elected, Mr W P Edwards, Mr A A Stirling, Mr J C Bolton and Mr E Braddon (also recorded as Bradden) was appointed secretary.
The season ticket holders were asked to assist in the running of competitions, selection of teams to represent the course and make recommendations to the Golf Management Committee in relation to course improvements & maintenance. The group where not to be formally known as a club, in view of the council’s stated aims to keep the course open to all and offer no preferential treatment to any individual or society. They were though, clearly the first officials of Haste Hill Golf Club in all but name.
It was quite quickly suggested the course should be extended, particularly in view of the lengthy wait times to play and the levels of congestion on Sundays, with golfers playing the 9-hole track twice, to complete a round. It was also known that the public course in Harrow, sited at Preston Road was shortly to close, to be turned over to housing.
The sports ground faced some issues early on, with a proposal in March 1930 to turn parts of Haste Hill into a rubbish tip, with an access road through the golf course. During a meeting that month, Councillor Mr T A Kenyon refuted the claim they had decided to allow controlled tipping, proclaiming,’ The golf links is self-supporting and if it was possible, would be turned into an 18-hole course’.
By May 1930, the course extension appeared to be practically a done deal. The Council decided that in view of the sporting teams being displaced, they were to purchase land along Chestnut Avenue, to provide new facilities and a further 8.5 acres of land on Haste Hill to replace the public land that would be lost.
Many considered the planned extra holes to be a sweetener, to allow the tip proposals to get through and it took until August for that particular scheme to be outright rejected.
Meanwhile, the golf course continued to be a success. In May, a Mixed Foursomes is the first competition that appears to have been recorded and a Mr J. Austin returned a record card at the course, with a score of 71. The earliest titled competition, The Walter D Friend Cup, was played for the first time, over several rounds between June and September 1930. Mr Friend was a season ticket holder and well-known Northwood resident. He was the President of Northwood Bowls Club, a Vice President of Northwood United FC (now Northwood FC) and an active member of the Northwood Liberal Association. He donated the silver cup as the prize for a match play competition for local residents and season ticket holders. The Friend Cup is still a fixture on the Haste Hill calendar to this day.
There was still a degree of disquiet at the loss of the public space to the original golf course with many people refusing to keep to the footpaths laid around the edges and crossing the holes as they pleased. There were also representations made to the local newspapers that the ‘special treatment’ afforded to The Drive was unreasonable in view of the poor condition of other local roads, such as Chestnut Avenue. There had been reports of illegal shooting on the course and local horse riders stood accused of damaging the greens and fairways.
In August 1930, course architect Sandy Herd was made an Honorary Member at Haste Hill Golf Course.
Later that month, a visiting golfer from North Harrow hit the first recorded hole-in-one at Haste Hill, on the 5th hole, now the 8th but at that time laid out in reverse to how it is today and played uphill.
The course ran at a loss of £280 (or £800 dependent upon who you believe) in the first year but it was considered such a success that a further, southern access road was being considered, likely to be from Chestnut Avenue, or possibly even Wiltshere Lane that extended much further into the woods at that time. In September, the council spent £50 having ant-hills removed from around Haste Hill.
By the start of the 1930 / 31 season, at least two football clubs called what now appeared to be universally known as Haste Hill Golf Club, their home. Northwood United FC and Oaklands Gate FC (believed to be a team of council employees, as their offices were located in Oaklands Gate, a road off Green Lane in Northwood) were entertaining sides such as Roxeth United, Wembley Town and Harrow Sheet Metal Workers. The ground was also home to Northwood Cricket Club.
Haste Hill was on course to not only achieve its target income of £890 but not less than £1400, for the year 1930. There were by this time 104 season ticket holders and with 201 rounds of golf played per week including those by pay & play golfers, the course was also on target to achieve profitability in year 2.
As a result, in January 1931, a two hour council meeting ended with agreement to extend Haste Hill Golf Course. The suggestion by the Golf Course Management Committee was that 12.6 acres of adjacent land be purchased for £1,800. This was again not without opposition due to half of the Haste Hill open space being lost to the extension. The proposal was described as a luxury by opponents and 'a boon to people who could not afford the fees at other courses', by supporters. Somewhat ironically, some locals considered the extension to be a punishment for the dump not going ahead.
In March of that year, Police were instructed to ‘trace & take suitable action against people riding horses on Haste Hill’, referring to both parts of the golf course & the remaining open space.
After 18 months of being led by a four man board, in April 1931, the Committee of Season Ticket Holders elected the first Club Captain, Mr E G Baker.
The council decided to add Lacrosse to the games being played at the sports ground, for the 1931/ 32 season, which caused some concern amongst the golf patrons, as to when exactly the extension would go ahead.
Meanwhile though, the plans to extend the golf course, including turning the use of the sports pitches over to use as part of the golf course, went to an inquiry, held on behalf of the Ministry of Health, in July 1931. A month later, the Ministry sanctioned the construction of the additional holes.
By October 1931, Northwood United had moved to a new site along Chestnut Avenue and were happy with the move as their new pitch drained far more effectively than those at the Haste Hill ground. However, with football still being played at Haste Hill, the Golf Member’s Committee (as the Committee Of Season Ticket Holders were by then known) urged the council, at their monthly meeting, to press on with the works to extend the course. Harrow Golf Course had closed and many players were looking to become members at Haste Hill. The council in turn proposed to restrict membership to local residents as the course had become so popular and it was the council picking up the costs, after all. The council did however report that not only had the required land been purchased but that the further purchases, agreed the previous May, were completed.
With the impending eviction of local sports teams, Haste Hill Golf Club played charity competitions in support of Northwood Cricket Club, to assist with the purchase of a ground of their own, raising the princely sum of £3. Northwood Cricket Club are now based at their Ducks Hill Road ground, opposite The Gate Public House, on Rickmansworth Road.
The work began shortly after with Sandy Herd again appointed course architect, this time with the assistance of Bert Pearson. An experienced constructor of golf courses, Mr John R Scott from Paisley, near Glasgow was paid £945 to carry out the required works.
In early 1932, with the work in progress, there was huge public outcry about the closure of the public land to be handed over to the golf course. Complaints were raised about the positions of footpaths and suggestions made for paths across holes. The first Haste Hill Lady Captain, Miss B P Hillary was elected at the start of the season.
That March 1932, with the cost of season tickets set to rise, following the course extension, the council announced that patrons would be able to pay for their annual passes in instalments.
In April, Bert Pearson became only the 2nd player to hit a recorded hole-in-one, at Haste Hill, on the 8th hole (now the 17th). It was the 6th time Bert had hit an ace, having previously achieved the feat at Oxhey, Chingford, Braintree, and twice at Welwyn Garden City. He went on to hit several more at Haste Hill.
There were many complaints about the barbed wire fencing being erected along the boundary of the course, adjoining The Drive, likening it to that of a compound for prisoners. It would have looked much like the fencing along the A40 side of RAF Northolt. Mr R J Page, a local councillor who was a big supporter of the course & club, later suggested the money being paid out for fencing would be better spent on improving the greens. The fence ran along the footpath from the corner behind the now 12th green to the brook on what is now the 1st hole.
An article in the local papers on Friday 6th May 1932 reported that: ‘Assisted by showers the new nine holes at Haste Hill Municipal golf course, Northwood, are in excellent condition, and although no definite opening date has been fixed, it is expected that the full eighteen-hole course will be ready for play toward the end of June. Despite the limited acreage available, the old nine-hole course with the addition of the adjoining playing fields and a portion of Haste Hill, have been utilised in an ingenious manner to accommodate a full eighteen holes. Sandy Herd the Moor Park professional, assisted by Bert Pearson, professional at the course, have been responsible for the lay-out of the extended course. Regular users will find many changes......... The extension will do much to relieve the congestion that takes place especially at weekends and should still further enhance the popularity of the course.’
The extension meant the putting course was reduced to a putting green and would have been pretty much where the car park is now situated, up to the stockade fencing, within which the golf carts are now stored overnight.
The 18 holes opened on Wednesday 20th July 1932, at 6pm with the bogey (par) for the course set at 70 and after a total outlay of £8360. It seems it was with a little less fanfare than the original course opening although a huge crowd gathered to witness the first round of golf, played again by two Open Champions. (Imagine the crowd today, if Padraig Harrington & Mark O’Meara turned out to play a round at Haste Hill.)
The ceremonial first tee shot was played by Mr J A Hutt, JP & chairman of the Ruislip-Northwood Council, with the first match following straight after, played between Sandy Herd, Ted Ray (1912 Open Champion, 1920 US Open Champion & the golf professional at Oxhey) & Percy Baxter (golf professional at Northwood), together with Bert Pearson.
Once the full 18 hole course was established, the idea of a second entrance, from the south was abandoned. Not content to rest on their laurels, though, the council declared themselves to be ‘desirous of improving the course and making it a first class one’. Toward the end of the year, the 15th green (now the 5th) had been taken up and re-laid, as if to prove the point.
In December 1932, the Season Ticket Holders held their first annual dinner, which was a great success. Seventy six people attended the sold out event at The Gayton Rooms in Harrow (now The Junction Pub), including council officials and local professional golfers. The Council Chairman, Mr L F Fogarty toasted the players & officials and stated that with the support of the players, it would be possible to improve the course still further. An increase in season ticket holders was seen as key to the success, as members displayed a keener interest in the development of the course and were also critical to recouping the considerable amount spent on the extension.
A number of trophies had been donated in time for the 1933 season, with the Rowley Cup for men’s foursomes knockout donated by club member Mr H J Rowley and The Parker Cup for men’s singles knockout match play donated by Mr T R Parker upon his retirement from the council. The mixed foursomes knockout competition was by then known as The Pearson Cup (donated by Bert Pearson), who had also donated a further cup for a ladies competition. Lady Captain Miss B P Preston- Hillary also donated a cup for a ladies competition, the Preston Hillary Cup (now known as The Betty Hillary Cup).
The issues with the public crossing the course as & where they chose continued into 1933, such that both the Member’s and Golf Management committees requested the council have the 13th tee (now the 3rd) raised so a view of people on the two adjacent holes was possible. It appears the concrete steps were installed, instead, as a more cost effective option.
Little is known about Mr Simons who had also donated two cups for a ladies’ and a men’s competition. Some of the competitions were restricted to season ticket holders only, effectively the club members, with a number of others being open competitions. The Parker, Rowley & Betty Hillary Cup competitions are still played to this day.
There were wait times of up to 2 hours to start a round at the weekend and with these large numbers a procedure of placing your ball in a chute, positioned at what is now the 13th tee box, had been adopted to identify the order for players to tee off. The council put forward suggestions that local residents be given preference in the allocation of tee times and brought in a rule that no single players were to be permitted to play on Sundays.
The council stepped back from involvement in picking players to represent the course, although they retained the right of final approval over Haste Hill team members. Partially in view of this, some of the season ticket holders were looking for the council to recognise their group as a club and also address concerns over the conditions in the pavilion. Disharmony was such that in July 1933, Captain E Nichols resigned, to be replaced by Mr M G Reynolds. Soon after the change, the Golf Member’s Committee requested the council have the course affiliated to the EGU (English Golf Union), in order that it could be assessed for a standard scratch score and the handicaps of players be made official. The committee also put forward formal proposals to the council that they be allowed to form an officially recognised Golf Club. The course was affiliated to the EGU, later in the year but the possibility of an official club for the course was not resolved.
Haste Hill Golf Course was so popular that it was thought possible the local rates may be reduced, as a result of the income generated from green fees. In view of this success, in August 1933, Pinner Parish Council proposed to Hendon Rural Council that Pinner Park should be turned over to a Municipal Golf Course but the idea clearly gained no traction. A municipal course was also suggested for South Harrow that year but again this did not go ahead.
The difficulties for Bert Pearson to manage the large numbers of players attending Haste Hill were recognised by the council when they decided to install automatic ticket barriers to take payment. It is though not clear whether these were ever installed and if so, where they were positioned.
Haste Hill was even popular in the spirit world boasting two of its own ghosts in the early 1930’s. The first resided in a house along Wiltshere Lane, occupied by a member of the clergy. Fear was such that woman and children apparently avoided the lane after dark and the property was pulled down when no-one would buy it, once it was no longer needed by The Church. ‘Springheel Jack’ was also said to haunt the hill and Golf Course, given the name as he could leap over the tallest hedges and boundary walls, even being credited with the ability to fly. Research has not turned up any local events or persons that form the basis as to why these spectres were said to exist.
Bert Pearson hit the 8th hole-in-one of his golfing career, in 1933, when he aced the par 4, 14th (now 4th) hole. Considerably shorter than it is now, the tee was at the beginning of the now the 7th fairway and what was the green at the time is still visible as a small plateau to the right just before the current 4th green.
Following the decision to open a new Metropolitan Line Station along Joel Street, Northwood, a competition was held to decide on an appropriate name for the stop. ‘Joel Street’ & ‘Haste Hill’ appeared to be the most popular ideas with ‘Haste Hill (for Golf)’ also being amongst the 198 suggested names, as many people were travelling by rail to play at the course. The winning entry ‘Northwood Hills’ secured a £5 prize for a Miss Hawkins from Harrow Weald who was one of a few that suggested it. Opening on 13th November 1933, the name was chosen as it reflected that the station served an area surrounded by a number of hills including Duck’s Hill, Haste Hill, Kewferry Hill, Pinner Hill, and the Hogs Back. Perhaps confusingly, Northwood Station is in fact set higher above sea level than Northwood Hills.
Also in November of that year, the council introduced a special rate of 6d per round, for unemployed residents. Just one player took advantage of this concession, in the first three weeks it was in place.* Around that time, with a degree of frustration over the method for starting, the course moved over to a system of issuing a numbered ticket, upon the payment of green fees. Corresponding numbers were then displayed on a board at 1st tee (now 13th) to indicate who was next to tee off. Anyone playing the back 9 first was required to swap their numbered ticket on returning to the clubhouse, and join the queue at the first.
Meanwhile, the Golf Member’s committee deemed the Pavilion was completely inadequate and described conditions as ‘akin to the black hole of Calcutta, at the weekends’. Their representations to the council brought success and at their November meeting, the council approved plans for alterations and additions to the pavilion at Haste Hill.
The annual dinner was again held at The Gayton Rooms in Harrow with just short of 100 people attending. Having by this time stepped down from the council, Mr T R Parker attended the December event. He had been a vociferous advocate for the retention of green spaces in the district, during his six years of service. A Justice of the Peace, he twice served as Chairman of the Council and had also been appointed Chairman of The Golf Management committee. Retiring, to Cornwall, with his wife, he stated he was doing so to properly learn the game of golf and would return when he could be considered ‘a qualified golfer’.
In January 1934 an interesting competition was held, a 16-a-side match between a team led by the Club Captain and a team captained by the Club Secretary. Each player played a singles match in the morning and then took part in a foursomes match in the afternoon. An annual fixture the number of team members seemed to vary each year.
Commenced in March, the Clubhouse works were to include the addition of wings to each end of the pavilion as well as the addition of a veranda across the front of the original, central section. The left hand wing housed a ladies' lounge, ladies' cloakroom & the new pro shop, whilst the men's lounge and cloakroom was in the right hand wing. The kitchen facilities were also upgraded, as was the accommodation, upstairs.
Bert Pearson was advised that once the works were completed, the rent for his accommodation in the refurbished building would be set at £60 pa, inclusive of electricity & water but not gas*. He was to continue to receive any profits from the sale of refreshments on condition that he provide the services of two full-time waitresses. Alcohol was not served in the pavilion at this time and no plans were in place to alter that.
Meanwhile The Club Championship was at this time played over 72 holes, with two single rounds played over a couple of weekends then those that made the cut, playing a further 36 holes in a single day to wrap up the tournament.
In the first half of the year, the council decided an upgrade was needed to the water supplies, for the course. With a number of West London courses closing down to make way for housing, the council wanted to ensure the greens could be treated correctly, so as to attract as many of the displaced golfers as possible. Later in the year, the 'pipes, pumps & plant' required to draw water straight from Ruislip Reservoir were laid at a cost of just under £700, supplying water to each green directly, for the first time. It was another hot, dry summer in 1934 and later in the year, the council were pleased to report that irrigation at the course was not contributing to water shortages, thanks to the new system.
The council put forward a proposal, in June that year, for a bowling green to be constructed in the north corner of the course. The proposal would have done away with the putting green, shortened the course and entailed 7 or 8 months of disruption. Bert Pearson suggested shortening the 1st hole and placing a bowling green behind the 1st tee. Haste Hill was approved as the most suitable location, despite local opposition from both bowlers and golfers, who preferred a site at Northwood Recreation Ground, on Chestnut Avenue. A portion of the recreation ground had previously been set aside for exactly that purpose but construction there would mean demolishing tennis courts and reducing the children’s play area. It was suggested that ‘with acres of spare ground at Haste Hill the course could either be rearranged or a further 9 holes added, on adjoining land’, to accommodate the Bowling Green. There was talk of building the green in front of the clubhouse and even building it at the recreation Ground and then turning the putting green at Haste Hill over to tennis courts. It took until August 1935 for the final decision that the bowling green be laid down at Northwood Recreation Ground, with no changes at Haste Hill.
There were also proposals for bridle paths to be laid around Haste Hill Golf Course but fortunately the idea was quickly rejected as impractical.
With the success at Haste Hill, neighbouring Uxbridge Urban District Council decided to construct a Golf Course on land they had acquired for Green Belt, off Harvil Road. The land had formed part of the deer park, attached to the Harefield Place Estate and before that had been a farm. Knowing of his work on courses in the area, they asked Sandy Herd to design the layout.
A June meeting of the Golf Management & Golf Member’s Committees saw the council chastise the Member’s group for setting up an unauthorised league style competition and insisted it was cancelled.
Later in the year, Ruislip Northwood Urban District council acquired the land upon which Ruislip Golf Course stood, to prevent the owner Mr George Weedon selling it to developers. In addition they purchased surrounding parcels of land in order to extend and improve the facility. Mr Weedon had originally founded the course as the private concern, King’s End Golf Links, in October 1914. Before that the site had been pleasure grounds, set up by Mr Weedon on his King’s End Farm, to exploit the large numbers of day trippers visiting from the more urban areas of London.
A person of note, relating to the history of Haste Hill is the previously mentioned R J Page, a local councillor who was appointed Chairman of The Golf Management Committee in 1934. He had opposed the proposals to site a tip and later a bowling green at Haste Hill and had been one of the residents to challenge the council over the costs to upgrade ‘The Drive’ back in 1927. He felt the season ticket holders were critical to the success of Haste Hill and that the council relied upon them for the running of the course. He was popular with golfers and the Golf Member’s Committee. Although not a great golfer himself, he played on the council team in many of the annual club vs council matches in what was an annual fixture from the opening of the course. He went on to have an illustrious career being at different times Chairman of The General Purposes Committee, The Fire Brigade & Air Raid Precautions Committee, The Anglo-Russian Friendship Committee, The Youth Committee and even Chairman Of Ruislip Northwood Urban District Council itself. He was also key to the council’s purchases of Mad Bess Wood and Copse Wood as Chairman of the Open Spaces Committee. His outside interests included being Chairman of the Northwood & Pinner Chamber of Trade, President of Northwood Bowls Club, Honorary Auditor of The Northwood Literary Society & Chairman of Fund Raising at Northwood Methodist Church. Becoming a local magistrate in the 1940’s, he was also the proprietor of a local construction firm that completed a number of charitable projects for local groups.
At this time, although there were reports that tee boxes were sandy and soft, due to understaffing at Haste Hill, Percy Baxter, the professional at Northwood Golf Club publicly congratulated Bert Pearson for the condition of the course, in a letter to the local paper.
1934 also saw Haste Hill golfers compete for ‘The Morning Post Trophy’, then again in 1935. It appears to have been much like the Daily Mail Competitions of today. The Morning Post was absorbed into The Daily Telegraph in 1937.
The Golf Member’s Committee reiterated their desire to form a fully recognised club and requested the provision of ‘quarters’ at the new pavilion which was officially opened on Saturday 13th October 1934. With very little in the way of trees and shrubs on the course or surrounding area at that time, the view from the pavilion was considered remarkable. Visitors were apparently able to see all the way across to Ruislip Reservoir. The water level in the Reservoir was higher at the time with much of the land upon which the tracks of the Ruislip Lido Railway are now laid then submerged.
In December 1934 the council formally rejected the proposals by season ticket holders to form a club. Although R J Page fully supported the idea, the council did not feel it appropriate to hand over a room in the pavilion for use by such a group and felt they could not give them any preferential treatment at the course. They also insisted that were any recognised club to be formed in the future, a council official must sit on the committee. It appears likely by this time that the council were aware the group of season ticket holders had been widely considered a club for a good while.
At the annual dinner that December, Mr W T Warren was presented with the Friend Cup, following his victory in the competition, earlier in the year. On his way home, after the event he ‘made a stop in London’. Having completed whatever matters to which he was attending he was horrified to find, upon returning to his car, that it had been broken into and his coat stolen. Fortunately the silver cup that he had also left in the car had either been overlooked or ignored by the culprit.
In view of the holes being laid out at Harefield Place and with the completion of works at the recently acquired King’s End course still a long way off, Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council continued improvements to the course at Haste Hill. In May 1935 the Council approved in principle the addition of a 9 hole pitch & putt ‘relief’ course. It was to be built on land adjoining the existing layout, to ease congestion & prevent any loss of revenue to the soon-to-open Uxbridge course. Subject to the exact position being agreed, £450 had been set aside in March for this purpose.
Also in May that year, Haste Hill was used as a site for a Beacon to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V, with the council presenting the club with a silver cup, 'The Jubilee Cup', to be played for each year, by club members.
August saw the first recorded hole-in-one achieved by a lady golfer. A Mrs Redman hit the ace on what was then the 2nd hole (now the 11th).
Further improvements in 1935 saw a starters hut constructed by the 1st (now 13th) tee box and it was also agreed a shelter should be constructed by the 8th (now 17th) tee box. It would appear to be at the site of the shelter that until recently stood at the back of the current 9th tee box. Changes were also made to the 1st (now 13th & 14th) & 2nd (the current 11th), although it does not appear to have been noted, what exactly these changes were.
The annual dinner that year was held at The Orchard Hotel in Ruislip with 170 people in attendance including such notable guests as open champions Sandy Herd and Arthur Havers, the only English winner of the previous 14 years.
The course was closed on Tuesday 29th January 1936 as a mark of respect, following the death of King George V.
In March, Club Secretary A S Lowe was appointed to the Executive Committee of the NAPGC, a position he held for at least five years. After serving as Club Secretary for 2 years, Mr Lowe swapped places with Club Captain A T Smith just a few weeks later. Possibly helped by the influence of having Mr Lowe on the board, Haste Hill Golf Course was affiliated to the NAPGC, later in the year.
Three months later, with the construction of the 9 hole relief course at an advanced stage, police were requested to include the area on their regular patrols following a number of serious acts of vandalism, 'by boys'. Nevertheless, on Saturday 19th September 1936, the par 3 relief course opened, built on land to the left of the current 1st hole, running out to Chestnut Avenue & up to the area of the now 6th green, and on a portion of Northwood Recreation Ground. Sandy Herd and Bert Pearson were once again the course architects. Little else is known about the course, other than the 1st hole was 65 yards in length and the second 125 yards. It is though known to have been a tight, tricky layout with Bert Pearson commenting that a large number of balls had been lost during the ceremonial opening match. It is very likely remnants of some of the tee boxes and bunkers can be found, buried under the dense scrub to the left of the footpath alongside the 1st hole.
One of the most successful, original members at Haste Hill was Mr A E Rackley. Less than a month after the 18 hole course was completed, in 1934, he set a course record of 67, three under bogey (par), at the time. He won the Course Championship every year from 1930 to 1935 & again in 1937 and also won The Parker Cup in its first three years from 1933 to 1935 then once more in 1951. He took the Red Cross Trophy in 1933, The Hospital Cup in both 1937 & 1938, The Rowley Cup in 1939 and The Friend Cup in 1946 & 1952, the year he also won the Clifton Cup. His final victory of note, was the Veteran’s Cup in 1962, this triumph coming a full 32 years after he was first crowned Course Champion.
Mr Rackley also brought one of the first notable external honours to Haste Hill. In 1936 he won the J H Taylor Challenge Shield, the prize for winning the Southern Area Final of the NAPGC Men’s Singles Competition. A replica of the impressive silver shield was presented each year, to the winner. The club is very fortunate to now have this & other replicas in its possession, since they were donated to us when discovered during a house clearance.
Despite the death of the King, earlier in the year, the council pressed ahead with the planting of a half mile long avenue of plain & lime trees named Jubilee Walk. Running from almost the top of Haste Hill, down toward the cemetery, the two lines of trees alongside the sixth hole remain in place to this day. A ring of fir trees was also planted as part of this venture, encircling the summit of the hill. Many of these trees can still be seen, surrounding the area of the now 5th hole.
The 18 hole layout continued to attract huge numbers of golfers with complaints of waiting times of up to 3 hours and up to 46 golfers in the queue. However, it was noted at the council meeting in November 1936, that the 9 hole relief course was not attracting the numbers hoped for and did not appear to be doing much to reduce the congestion on the full course.
At the start of 1937, proposals were put forward to make further alterations to the 1st (now 13th & 14th) & 2nd (the current 11th hole), although again, the exact details of the changes appear not to have been recorded. These suggestions were again to ease congestion at the beginning of the course. It would appear the alterations were carried out as it was also put forward that the 12th hole (now 8th) be reversed and played downhill due to the number of balls being hooked onto the 13th (now 3rd) tee box.
A possibly unique achievement was accomplished in February 1937 when Mr E Nichols (Club Captain for 1932 & into 1933) won the Parker Cup. The Nichols family of keen golfers held all of the trophies, available to members at once, bar the club championship. Mr Nichols beat his own nephew, Mr W H Nichols who himself went on to become club captain in 1939, in the final.
March saw the course close for 4 weeks, due to poor weather & in late Spring, Haste Hill Golfers competed at home in the qualifying round of the News of the World PGC competition.
Later that year, well-known local businessman and advocate of open spaces Mr Harry Bennett planted an oak tree with a commemorative plaque on Haste Hill, to mark the coronation of King George VI. Mr Bennett went on to become a local councillor and following his death in 1944, his ashes were buried beneath the tree. The exact location of the tree is not known at the time of writing, perhaps have a look as you make your way around the course.
The annual dinner was once again held at The Orchard Hotel and was another complete sell-out, with 180 guests attending.
*The currency systems prior to decimalisation used '£' for pounds, 's' for shillings and 'd' for pence. There were 12 d or pence to a shilling and 20 s or shillings to the pound. You will probably have worked out there were 240 d or pence to the pound. To give you a chance at comparison, with 20 shillings to the pound, a shilling is considered to be the equivalent of 5 pence, in today’s money.
British Newspaper Archive, Harrow Leader, Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazette (Advertiser & Gazette), Hillingdon Gazette, Hayes & Harlington Gazette, Harefield Gazette, numerous publishing dates.