A History Of Haste Hill Golf Club

 

Part 4. Modern History: 1946 To The Present Day

 

From the start of World War II, with news of more traditional pursuits seemingly becoming less of a draw, reporting of events at Haste Hill dropped significantly.

In 1946, course professional John G T Doe donated The Paul Cup to the club, to celebrate the birth of his son, who was of course named Paul. The cup was donated to be the prize for a men’s stroke play, medal competition. A tidy golfer himself, Paul reached the semi-final of the British Boys Matchplay Championship, representing Haste Hill, in 1960. John’s wife was also quite a player, winning the Darvill Bowl, an open competition at Chorleywood GC in 1961, again representing Haste Hill.

In October 1948 it was recorded that delays of up to 45 minutes were being experienced, waiting to commence a round of golf. There were apparently no catering facilities in the clubhouse, at this time, much to the disappointment of regular patrons, particularly, no doubt those in the queues.

1949 saw tragedy return to the course, when 74 year old golfer Mr Edward Walter Phillips died suddenly at Haste Hill. The cause of his passing was not made public.

A new clubhouse opened at Ruislip Golf Course in March 1951. The King’s End Farm House that had been used as the pavilion since 1914, was demolished to make way for housing.  With no plans for the new clubhouse to have an alcohol license, the secretary at Ruislip Golf Club, B Sansom likened the club to Cinderella stating they did not receive the same treatment as Haste Hill.

Haste Hill Captain for the year, Mr E C Morris was appointed to the position of Agency Manager at the Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society in 1952. Many will recall Insurance Agents calling door to door to collect premiums and sell new policies, Mr Morris would have been in charge of the many thousands of such agents, employed by the society.

That August, The Middlesex Development plan was put in place. The plan protected Haste Hill as well as numerous other open spaces in the district from future development.

 

In April 1953, club member & past club secretary Mr G Walker was elected to the position of President of The Middlesex Golf Union and Haste Hill was once again used as a site for a beacon, this time to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Club member Mr W H T Porter (59 at the time) was awarded a CBE in the 1954 New Year’s Honours List. Deputy Controller & Accountant-General at the Post Office, Mr Porter was a resident of North Wembley and an active member of the Sudbury Court Residents Association. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War and later became a member of the Management Committee of the Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance.

An application, to have a licensed bar at Haste Hill Pavilion was declined in 1956, as the council felt it was not appropriate to serve alcohol, with the facilities being open to the general public.

The same year, club member Ernst Lilley retired from being the longest serving driver on the Metropolitan Line, after over 40 years at the controls and 52 years on the railway, in total. A local resident he served with The Royal Engineers in the First World War and The Royal Fusiliers during World War II. He played music to entertain guests at The Clay Pigeon Hotel (now Venue 5) every Sunday evening, for many years.

The turbulent beginnings for the Uxbridge course had continued long after the war had ended with The Middlesex Agricultural Committee still refusing to return the land that had been appropriated for food production as late on as 1953. Whether the by then Municipal Borough of Uxbridge had procured additional land, or the original acreage had eventually been returned is still unclear but Harefield Place finally became an 18 hole course in 1957.

On Sunday 6th April, the following year, 51 year old Stanley John Turner was tragically found dead in Park Wood, on Haste Hill.  Park Wood runs alongside the 8th hole and behind the tees or greens of the 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th holes. 51 year old Mr Turner had been missing from his home in Warminster, Wiltshire since February 24th.

A series of Haste Hill trophies have sadly disappeared from the club calendar over the years. Bert Pearson donated a cup in 1932 to be awarded to the winners of the existing Mixed Foursomes Competition which ran through to the late 1960’s.  Two very early cups, The Simons Cups, one for a Ladies competition & one for men, do not appear to have lasted long on the calendar, from their inception in 1933.  Also starting life in 1933, the Red Cross Trophy appears to have been played on & off right through until 1999. The Jubilee Cup was donated in 1935, to commemorate The Silver Jubilee of King George V and ran through to the late 1960’s.

The competition for the Hospital Cup raised money for Pinner & Northwood Hospital and ran from 1937 through to the early 1950’s.  The Elizabeth Cup, donated to celebrate The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the prize for a Mixed Greensomes Competition that raised money for the RNIB’s local Sunshine House Hospital, for blind children. It ran from at least 1958, through to the late 1960’s. Other competition names that appear to have come and gone include The Lombard Trophy, The Cancer Relief Cup, The New Zealand Lamb Trophy, The Barnardo’s Cup, The Bob Wilkie Cup, The Shealagh Baird Cup and The Joan Usher Trophy.

The image below, from 1959, shows the impressive array of silverware awarded to the winners of competitions at Haste Hill. At this time, replicas of the cups were issued as permanent mementoes, to the victors.

 In 1960, Horace J Smith retired from his role as Head Green Keeper at Haste Hill, after an impressive 31 years at the course. He was presented with a cheque on behalf of the club members upon his retirement. Horace brought an external honour to the club, winning the annual ‘Coming of Age’ cup in 1952. Played in Dublin that year, Horace had shot rounds of 75, 72 & 69 (net) to win the Association of Greenkeepers’ tournament for golfers over 60 years of age.

Popular jazz trumpeter Nat Gonella was a keen golfer and member of the Variety Golf Society that boasted such prominent members as Harry Secombe. On a society visit to Haste Hill in late September 1961, Nat hit a hole in one on the 11th hole.

In 1965, the club received and began to play a stableford competition for The John G T Doe Trophy. Donated by his family, the cup was to commemorate John Doe, the course professional of the previous 19 years, who had recently passed away.

On the perhaps rather unfortunately chosen date of 1st April 1965, the London Borough of Hillingdon was formed by the merger of 4 district councils. Those councils were Hayes & Harlington Urban District Council, Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council, Yiewsley & West Drayton Urban District Council and The Municipal Borough of Uxbridge that had superseded Uxbridge Urban District Council in 1955. This brought Harefield Place (Uxbridge) Golf Course under the control of the same council as the Ruislip & Haste Hill courses.

Harrow Councillor W Wormald caused a spat in 1972 by suggesting that Harrow resident players of municipal courses in Hillingdon, such as Haste Hill were irresponsible and should stick to their own borough, despite Harrow having no public courses.

George E O Walker was elected 44th president of The English Golf Union in 1975. The first such president from Middlesex, Mr Walker had been Club Captain at Haste Hill in 1948, Captain at Northwood GC in 1956 and served twice as president of the Middlesex County Golf Union, in 1953 & 1959.

By 1976, Bob Daw had been running the pro shop at Haste Hill for 6 years. Famed for the in depth stock he held, on April 1st, he opened his own premises in Windsor Street Uxbridge, ‘Aladdin’s Cave of Golf’.  Billed as ‘The Biggest Golf Shop in The World’, it was hugely popular store in the town for at least 25 years.

The following year saw the club seeking to expand its junior section, offering 12-18 year olds annual membership for 50 pence, including 4 free golf lessons.

The subject of irrigation seems to be an issue at Haste Hill that has cropped up many times throughout its history. In 1978, feeling the current arrangements were inadequate, Hillingdon Council ran a lottery with part of the £102k proceeds paying for a new watering system.

In 1979, Hillingdon Council extended the discount for Old Age Pensioners to non-residents. Until this time, only those living in the borough had qualified for the concession.

Golf grew hugely in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century and in 1989 a record 200,000 rounds of golf were played across Haste Hill, Ruislip & Uxbridge golf courses.

The following January, with golfers sleeping in their cars, to ensure they could secure a tee slot, the council were turning away 300 to 400 bookings every weekend, across the three courses. In an attempt to stop this practice the council adopted a policy of only taking bookings after 5pm.

That July there were reports of a flasher exposing himself to two women walking their dogs alongside the course.

Also in 1990, the popular Gordon Casuals golf society set up a women’s section, the Gordon Belles. In the first match between the two sections, the ladies triumphed on a play-off hole.

In 1991 the council let out the clubhouse to private caterers for the first time, with the successful company holding regular Friday Night Discos from 7.30pm to 11pm.

The subject of water raised its head again in late 1992, with major disruption at Haste Hill. Three Valleys Water installed a new pipeline, across the site. The effect on the course at the time was described as 'brutal' and 'a desecration'. The council took adverts in the local papers, once the course had been reinstated, to bring back lost patrons.

Golf Course Management (GCM) successfully tendered for the running of Hillingdon’s three golf courses in 1993. They spent £115k on machinery, took on 10 extra staff and spent £50k improving the clubhouses. An April public meeting was held at Haste Hill, for the company to put forward their vision for golf in Hillingdon. It did not go well, being described as raucous, with players complaining of inflexible booking arrangements & higher prices than surrounding public courses. Club members felt they were being pushed off the courses. GCM also dropped weekend season tickets, opting for a scheme allowing players to play 3 days a week but not weekends, when pay & play was the only option.  Following a 282 signature petition, the company later relented and offered a card for Hillingdon Residents only, giving players the chance to play 1 weekend round and 1 midweek round for £499 pa. The price was then later reduced to £457.75. The order of playing the holes was also changed, one of several such changes, over the years. The company had been granted a 25 year lease.

Things did not start well for GCM, with what they described as a crime wave occurring that year, with Incidents including aggravated burglary, vandalism & break-ins. At one point the wheel nuts were even loosened, on one of the company vehicles, causing a front wheel to fall off when it was later being driven.

With the courses still not at their best following the pipeline works the previous year and resentment about the unpopular changes, 200 fewer rounds were played at Uxbridge and 300 fewer at Haste Hill that April compared to the same month, the previous year. In response GCM advertised the three Hillingdon courses extensively, with some adverts claiming Haste Hill, Ruislip & Uxbridge were ‘The best public courses in Middlesex’.

Golf at Haste Hill is certainly great value for money, today. In July 1993, the club ran an advert in the Harrow Leader, offering 6 months membership for £50.00, although this was inclusive of all subs. The following year, season tickets gave you 3 midweek summer rounds & unlimited winter midweek golf for £387.75 or alternatively, 1 weekend round, 1 midweek round and unlimited midweek dusk rounds for £499.50. They were comparatively expensive at the time and it is noticeable how little the prices have increased since.

By 1994, the subject of gender equality became a hot topic. Hillingdon GC had been granted a drinks license for just 1 year, due to their ban on woman playing on Sundays and not allowing them to sit on the club committee. At the time Northwood GC would not allow women to play in the morning, at weekends and lady members were not granted voting rights at meetings. Moor Park meanwhile, did allow lady members to vote but they were prohibited from playing before 10am at weekends. When approached for comment, Sandy Lodge declined to say whether any such restrictions applied at the club. The council were proud to say that equal rights were granted to all players at the three London Borough of Hillingdon courses.

Another of the repeating themes is the clubhouse. In January 1996 further alterations were made to the clubhouse with ‘new changing rooms, extensions to ground floor and front elevations and new offices at first floor level.'

1998 saw Hillingdon Mayor Steve Panayi hold an 18 hole medal AM-AM competition on Wednesday 22nd April, to raise funds toward a hydrotherapy pool for the RNIB’s Sunshine House Hospital, based in Northwood. Twenty eight, four man teams entered, raising £4,000.

In 1999, the regular Haste Hill Junior Open, held in February, attracted just under 100 entrants and that August a putting competition raised £2500 for the Hillingdon Hospital Neo-Natal Unit.

Golf Course Management went into liquidation in December 2006 and the running of the three Hillingdon Golf Courses was taken back in-house for just under 2 years, before being put out to tender again.

Mack Golf Hillingdon became the new course managers for Haste Hill, Ruislip & Uxbridge, on a 45 year lease, in September 2008. Less than a year later, though there was a major disagreement over groundworks at Uxbridge Golf Course. Following the installation of a gas pipeline from Harefield to Southall, through part of the course at Uxbridge, National Grid agreed a figure to cover re-instatement work on the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th holes. Involving three planning applications to alter the course & two appeals to the Secretary of State, the saga finally came to an end in December 2011 with Mack Golf having withheld nearly £300k worth of rent and also leaving the council a huge cost to bring the holes back to a playable standard.  Having terminated the lease, the council took back control of all three courses, once again. Sadly, Uxbridge remains a 13 hole layout to this day, with 12 holes in use. It truly has been a tempestuous history for the course.

It would be fair to say Mack Golf did not exactly cover themselves in glory, in the short time they had control at Haste Hill. They sacked popular greenkeeper John Elvin, in 2010, for declining a transfer to Ruislip Golf course. He wished to remain at Haste Hill, as it was far closer to his home and meant he could provide needed care & support to his wife. Backed by a number of Haste Hill regulars, John was reinstated a few weeks later, on appeal. The parent company to Mack Golf, Mack Trading, collapsed in October 2018, with seven golf courses across the country being closed as a result. A number have since re-opened under new management.

On Saturday 15th September 2012, a ‘man in his 50’s’ was found dead on Haste Hill Golf Course. A suspected suicide, he was discovered by early golfers at 7.10am alongside the 10th hole. The John Williams Memorial Competition, planned for the day was called off as a result and rescheduled for later in the year. Sadly, this occurred again, in the last couple of years with the victim being discovered amongst trees between the 2nd & 3rd holes.

In 2017 the council invested over £250,000 into the facilities at Haste Hill, with another major upgrade to the watering system, an extension to the car park and some redecoration of the clubhouse. Sadly, a decision was made at this time to remove the club honours boards from the clubhouse, a decision that many members were unhappy about. A digital board was later installed that holds all of these records on one screen. The club though, still wanted to see some of the boards replaced, offering to do so with boards of a more modern design.

Three teams of Haste Hill members took part in the Macmillan Longest Day Golf Challenge over the summer that year. The sponsored challenge, to play four full rounds of golf in one day took place at Haste Hill with teams playing from 4am through to 9pm to complete the 72 holes. The feat raised in excess of £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with the name Phil Grice but in June 2018 he was appointed Chairman of The Golf Club Managers Association after a stint as the Communications & Marketing Director and seven years as the General Manager of Royal Norwich Golf Club. Phil started his golf management career as an assistant at Haste Hill, many years ago.

2018 also saw an exceptionally hot summer not only affect the course directly but also cause issues with water supplies. Grass on many of the fairways and greens was scorched with some areas dying off completely. The council had to bring water in by tanker trucks and the green keeping staff had their work cut out to return the greens to the excellent condition they had been in at the start of the season. Remarkably, the greens were all but back to their best by the following spring, although having had to reseed a few of the fairways, parts of the course were still recovering, two years later.

Later in the year, the clubhouse was left without catering or bar facilities, when the contractors decided not to renew their contract. This hit membership numbers at the club for 2019 with many members deciding to move to other venues.

Despite the reduction in numbers, 2019 was a very successful year with Haste Hill winning two NAPGC competitions, finishing runners up in three others and reaching the finals of a further two. The club also picked up two divisional place prizes at the UKPCC final and triumphed at the European Tour England Golfsixes tournament. By spring 2020 negotiations were ongoing to bring in new caterers and the club membership numbers for that year were also hit.

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the club, the Captain’s Day on Saturday October 12th 2019 included a revived & revised version of the Captain vs Secretary match from the 1930’s. Each entrant was allocated to one of four teams representing the Club President, the Lady Captain, the Club Captain & the Club Secretary.  The President’s Team ran out winners and club President John Paterson was presented with the Founders Trophy (a silver cup hallmarked in 1929) a copy of the rules of golf from the year and a 1929 half-crown, all contained in an art deco box of the era. The Founder’s Trophy will now become an annual event.

2020 will see Micky Dollard reach the incredible milestone of 50 years as a member at Haste Hill Golf Club. In reaching this Golden Anniversary, Micky has seen his fair share of success, winning The Boswell Cup in 1972, The Rishton Cup in 1973, The Haste Hill Open in 1989, The Tom Palmer Scramble in 1991,  The Rowley Cup in 1993, The Greensomes Trophy in 1996, The Foxes Cup in 2000, The Committee Shield, The Greensomes Team Trial & The Greensomes Trophy in 2004, The Ferndown Plaque & The President’s Cup in 2005, The President’s Cup again in 2006, The J Williams Shield in 2008 and The Rodgers Shield in 2015. A popular member of the club, he has also won numerous monthly bogey, stableford & medal competitions and represented Haste Hill many times, over the years. Congratulations Micky.

Numbers participating in outdoor sports are currently at a lower point, historically, with the game of golf reflecting the situation faced by most pastimes.  In view of that, the number of challenges for the club to overcome recently, and with many people finding themselves lacking free time enough to run clubs or societies, Haste Hill Golf Club is fortunate to have a committed group to keep it running.  No history of the club would be complete without noting the contribution of one man in particular.  Of course, this refers to Stuart Cella, the Club Secretary who is now in his 12th straight year, in the role. Stuart’s association with the club goes all the way back to 1986, having been Vice-President in 1992 & Vice-Captain in 1993. He returned to the committee in 1997 and has held a position on it ever since. Tireless, in his efforts to promote both the sport and the club, Stuart has been a County Rules Official since 2002 and is now in his 8th year on the NAPGC Committee / Board, for whom he is now the Chair of Competitions. Frankly, Stuart is Haste Hill Golf Club and served as Club Captain for 2009. He has won so many cups, trophies & competitions, over the years, we’d need a second booklet, just to list them all. However, he never seeks the limelight, preferring to see the prosperity of the club as his reward.  It is no exaggeration to say the club would struggle without his organisational skills & integrity. Thank you Stuart, on behalf of members past & present, for ensuring there is a successful club, worthy of having its history recorded.

At the time of writing, golf was beginning to recover from the hiaitus brought about by the global Covid-19 pandemic. The well, rested course reopened with a number of new policies and procedurtes in place to help prevent the further spread of the disease.

 

Sources.

Local knowledge

British Newspaper Archive, Harrow Leader, Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazzette (Advertiser & Gazzette), Hillingdon Gazette,  Hayes & Harlington Gazette, Harefield Gazette, numerous publishing dates.

 

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