In the Balkans, tensions were growing that would lead to war within 12 months, while at home there was a different battle being fought as Women’s Suffrage gained its first martyr when Emily Davidson threw herself beneath the hooves of the King’s horse during the Epsom Derby.
On the London stage George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion had its world premiere and in the frozen waste of Antarctica Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his comrades perished.
Against that historical calendar of events, the first steps to bring the sport of golf to Sutton-in-Ashfield may seem insignificant, but everyone who has watched Coxmoor Golf Club grow into the institution it is today knows that the year of 1913 marks a very important milestone.
Sadly, there are no records available, nor anyone with a memory long enough to say exactly when the first suggestion for a golf club in Sutton-in-Ashfield was voiced.
But the thinking behind the idea is not so hard to imagine.
In the days before World War One, those who wanted to take part in this most pleasurable of leisure pastimes would have faced a lengthy trek to Sherwood, (at this time, the Sherwood Golf Club was located in the Ravensdale area of Mansfield), Hollinwell or even Bulwell.
And even for the well-off, who tended to dominate the amateur game in those early days, such a journey at a time when the automobile was still something of a noisy and lumbering rarity, would have been tiresome to say the least.
The game was being popularised by the exploits of players like Harry Vardon and it was clear that a town like Sutton-in- Ashfield, that was becoming increasingly prosperous from the twin commercial suc- cesses of mining and hosiery, would have sufficient interest and acumen among the business and professional community to establish a golf club.
Sutton-in-Ashfiled about the time of the club’s opening
And so it was that on a Friday evening, October 10, 1913, some of the leading Sutton citizens of the day gathered in the Bainbridge Hall, formed themselves into a committee and began the search for suitable land to site a brand new nine hole golf course. According to the pages of the Notts Free Press of that week, the principal movers behind the idea included Dr Nesbitt, who took the chair, Mrs Nesbitt, Mr and Mrs H. J. Bosworth, Miss Barltrop, Mr Walter Burn, Mr Alfred Briggs, Mr J. Bell, Mr and Mrs William Collins, Dr Durance, Mr and Mrs P. Faherty, Mr Walter Hoe, Mr and Mrs E. S. B. Hopkin, Mr F. Isitt, Mr S. Liddle, Miss Nellie Oates, Mr H. H. Pulpher, Mr M. Radford, Mr Martin Radford, Mr Ernest Smith, Dr Tweedie, Mr W. Wright, Mr E. S. Wright, Miss K. Winston, and Miss G. Williams.
Many of those names remain familiar, both in the town and within Coxmoor Golf Club, to this day – evidence of the lasting relationship members have formed with the club.
The group was keen to get on with things. Within a month, they had called a second meeting to confirm that negotiations for land were practically completed and Mr Hopkin, who had been entrusted with the onerous duties of secretary, said he had received a favourable response from Mr Tunbridge, the professional at the Mansfield Golf Club, who had been approached regarding the laying out of the greens.
The date of that second meeting was November 21st , 1913. To the delight of the committee members, Mr Hopkin confidently reported that play should commence by the following spring … just a few months after a virgin plot of land had been acquired. (See course plan)
He also reported that a large number of applications for membership had been received following an advertisement in the Free Press.
Because of the demand, the committee decided to set a limit of 100 subscribers who would each pay a membership fee of ten shillings and sixpence, with annual subscriptions set at one guinea for men and half a guinea for ladies.
Two weeks later, on December 5, 1913, the first annual general meeting of Coxmoor Golf Club was held at the Cafe Institute in the centre of Sutton, chaired by the Rev T. G. Shelmerdine, who was curate of St Modwen’s Church on Station Road.
His name now sits proudly at the head of the past captains list.
The meeting was told: ‘It is evident from the fact that a hundred members have already been secured, that the club fills a long felt want in Sutton-in-Ashfield and district.’
The meeting unanimously decided to invite His Grace The Duke of Portland, on whose land the course was to be established, to be the club’s first president.
It was a duty he subsequently accepted and for many years he would take a close interest in the affairs of Coxmoor.
At last, the club was up and running, with a committee led by Rev Shelmerdine, who also took on the position of club captain for the period 1913-1914.
The old clubhouse and, to the right, the ladies pavilion and professional’s living quarters
The first nine holes of the new Sutton-in-Ashfield Golf Club as it was initially titled, were laid out on some of the highest and most exposed land in the county, by Mr Tunbridge, the professional at Mansfield. The ground was leased from the Duke of Portland. The Duke’s agreement to lease the land for the use of the new golf club included one firm stipulation: No-one was allowed to play the game before 1pm on a Sunday afternoon. Before then, his Grace had ruled, all good people – including golfers – should be in church! It was also ruled that there should be no caddies at Coxmoor, although no explanation for this rule appears to have been recorded.
The Duke, a keen hunter, also retained the shooting rights on the land and in later years, long-serving professional Bill White can recall walking the course while his Grace wielded a double-barrelled shotgun instead of a mashie niblick. In those days, Coxmoor Road was nothing more than a country cart track which had earned the reputation as a Lovers Lane, so popular was it with courting couples from Sutton. The lane was lined on one side by gorse bushes and, of course, did not enjoy the modern advantages of street lighting.
It was not until the late 1930s that a tarmac surface was laid for motorised transport. Players came from as far afield as Nottingham and Hucknall to join the new club, travelling to Sutton Junction by train, then facing a walk of just under a mile from the station. A select few were able to make the journey by car and some even cycled the 16-odd miles, making use of the bike sheds provided by the club.
It is worth considering that there was no thing nine holes at Coxmoor in those days. Because of the length of time it took to travel, nine holes involved a day out, emphasising the dedication and love of the game showed by those pioneers. The original first hole ran alongside Coxmoor Road, between the road and what is now the seventh green towards the present 13th tee.
All nine holes were laid out on an area to the west of the current clubhouse as far as the boundary of the observatory and north to a boundary cutting across the eighth and 12th fairways of the present course. So, as World war One loomed ever closer across the Channel, Sutton opened its course.
With a little imagination you can conjure up a picture of the new golfers of Coxmoor, led by the good Reverend Shelmerdine, teeing it up for the first time, dressed in their woollen plus fours, starched collar and tie, flat caps, on that windswept, treeless course. How fascinating it would be to find some early scorecards!
Having established a nine hole course on which to play, the committee now turned its attention to providing a clubhouse to complement it. The inspiration for the course had come from the nearby Mansfield and Hollinwell clubs, established many years before Coxmoor’s appearance.
Perhaps our club’s founders had dreams of a clubhouse to match their illustrious near-neighbours – but such lofty ideals were not so easily fulfilled in those early days. Possibly because of the club’s finances, or the pressure of time, or more likely because they did not think it would be worth building an extensive clubhouse on what was leased land – the reason is not recorded – the Coxmoor pioneers had to settle for something a little more humble.
From somewhere in Sutton, they acquired an unwanted corrugated iron and wooden chapel building, no doubt with Rev Shelmerdine’s assistance. It was transported up the hill to Coxmoor and the members erected it on a site near the 13th tee.
The primitive structure – described somewhat grandly as a commodious building – was said to be freezing in winter, stifling in summer and possessed few of the creature comforts we all take for granted today. But it would serve its purpose for the best part of 50 years.
The first competition of note to be introduced at the new club came in 1919 when the Duke of Portland donated a trophy. It is worthy of note that in that same year, 1919, Mr Ronald Coupe was appointed as the club’s auditor. He would remain a loyal servant to the club for many years.
The Sutton-in-Ashfield Golf Club, as it was still known in those early years, flourished from the start and soon began to outgrow its modest accommodation. The initial membership had grown to 180 by 1921.
On January 1st, 1921, a special meeting was convened by the club committee to discuss an extension to the pavilion. Tenders were invited and a Mr Harvey was given the contract for the work. The committee also gave the go-ahead for ladies and gents changing rooms to be added, together with a small kitchen facility at the rear. The committee also decided to indulge in the luxury of a verandah so that the members could enjoy sunny afternoons watching players finishing on the ninth hole.
It should be remembered of course, that they did not have the facilities of a well stocked bar and the waitress service which the members enjoy today. In the early days before Len White became the first professional – as well as greenkeeper and steward – the grandmother of current member and former captain of the club, Elam Dudley, who lived in the White House on Coxmoor Road, used to come up every Saturday to provide the members with tea and cakes.
In the gents dressing room, there would be a few tables, a crate of beer, some bottles of spirits and a bottle of pop – all paid for by the use of an honesty pot.
After a keenly fought round of golf, the members would play cards with various forms of whist and also games of KoonKan among the favourites.
It is fair to say that things were put on a more professional footing when Len White and his wife Sarah took over the stewardship of the club – takings rose by around 400%!
That same meeting of January 1st, 1921, also passed a proposal to extend the last four holes, bringing the total cost of clubhouse and course work to £800, which was to be raised by subscriptions and a debenture share scheme, bearing 6% interest.
The committee also decided that the club should become a limited company, giving every member a £1 share, with seven directors and a share capital of £500. Thus it was that on January 1st, 1921, Coxmoor Golf Club Ltd finally became a reality. At some stage in those early, formative years, a country membership was introduced.
Bill White remembers a map being hung on the wall of the old clubhouse. A circular line marked a seven-mile radius. Anyone living beyond the line was eligible for country membership at a reduced fee. He recalls an uneasy relationship between country members and the local contingent.
“The country members used to cause problems on a Sunday. The first point of the course they reached, coming from Nottingham or Hucknall, would be the corner where the sixth tee now stands. At that time, it was the fourth and they would often come through a gate by the tee and start playing from there.
“Members who had started on the first would catch them up and arguments would break out,” said Bill.
In an effort to avoid these unfortunate confrontations, country membership was limited by the committee to 60.
Bill also recalls another problem arose from the fact that the course was crossed by two public footpaths.
“Kids used to walk on the course and pick up golf balls, even when they were being played with.
“I once chased one all the way to Sutton Junction to get a ball back.”
During the passage of 1921, the club held its first dance, a popular and well supported event by all accounts, and junior membership was introduced, laying the foundations for the fine crop of young players that would emerge at Coxmoor over the ensuing decades.
Bill recalls that in later years, the Coxmoor annual ball, which was held at the Regency Ballroom in the centre of Sutton, was one of the most glittering occasions on the town’s social calendar with tickets coveted like gold dust.
The growth of Coxmoor continued to gather pace and in 1923, at the tenth annual general meeting, again held in the Bainbridge Institute in Sutton, the question of a full-time club professional was debated.
It would seem that prior to that date, the duties of course maintenance and care of the pavilion had been in the hands of Mr Edward (Ted) Woodward, a former cricket umpire. The absence of his name from the club accounts for those early years would suggest that he took on these important duties in an entirely voluntary and unpaid capacity. The fact that Mr Woodward, as early as the second AGM in December 1914, had been made an honorary member would seem to confirm this.
Bill White can remember Mr Woodward in his 70s, as a tall, white-haired, quietly spoken gentleman with a bushy white moustache, tinged with the colour of a heavy smoker.
Up until the 1930s, according to Bill White, Mr Woodward and a friend named Hadfield, would often been seen around the course, bright and early on a Saturday morning, hunting for rabbits.
A distinguished gathering of Coxmoor’s early golfers pictured outside the old clubhouse during the 1920s. Bill and Dorothea White can put a name to almost everyone pictured!
Towards the end of the 1920s, the question of extending the golf course into an 18-hole lay-out became ever more pressing.
It was something the members wanted and, if the club was to take a significant position on the Notts golfing circuit, it was a necessity.
The answer came from Mr Arthur Farnsworth, who owned Stonehills Farm, situated near the railway line at Sutton Junction.
A golfer himself, he offered to lease the club a parcel of land which lay on the opposite side of Coxmoor Road. He proposed a very attractive rate which would come within the club’s means.
The offer was duly accepted and the full 18 holes was earmarked for opening in the spring of 1929. (See course plan) With the experience gained from laying out the original nine holes some 15 years before still fresh in the memory, the committee discussed the notion of becoming more mechanised – so the acquisition of a tractor to help produce the second nine, was discussed.
Anyone who has seen the primitive horse drawn raking machine which stands beside the 13th tee today can understand why a more modern machine would be desirable. But once again, the club came up against the stumbling block of how to finance such an expensive purchase.
As was the way in those early days when everyone was prepared to lend a hand to help the club’s growth, another member came forward with the solution.
Mr J. E. (Ted) Fish, of Fish’s Foundry in Bottle Lane, Mansfield, who was on the committee at the time, offered to produce a tractor for the club.
Readers with an engineering background will be interested to know the ingenious lengths Mr Fish went to in building a tractor for the golf club.
He acquired a Model T Ford chassis – no doubt from a black car – added an extended rear axle, fitted 12 inch wide steel wheels and cast an internal cog wheel and cog onto the Ford’s back axle, giving a 3:1 speed reduction. He also fitted rows of 3m steel spikes for grip. It may sound today like some sort of Heath Robinson construction, but it was a marvellous piece of engineering which gave the club excellent service for many years.
The club supplemented Mr Fish’s hand built tractor by purchasing a 3-gang Ransomes fairway unit which was used to rough out all the fairways on the new nine holes.
Petrol for the tractor had to be delivered in sealed two gallon cans, 20 at a time, and it was stored in a shed on the old course side of Coxmoor Road.
When the new nine holes were being built on the opposite side, it had to be brought over the road.
The tractor could just scrape through the gates on either side – but in later years, when the road had been given a tarmac surface, it left a trail of spike marks in the road surface. Quite how Coxmoor managed to get away with damaging the King’s highway is not known, but one can hardly imagine such a thing being tolerated today.
The second nine holes were designed by Tom Williamson, who was the professional at Hollinwell, and by Len White, the Coxmoor club professional.
As we marvel at the achievements of our modern-day team of greenkeepers, going about their jobs with the best machinery that money can buy, think fora moment about the skill and tenacity of those early golf engineers who needed wit, ingenuity and Some brute strength to create a golf course out of empty, featureless land.
Much of the work was done with a heelbarrow and shovel, a horse and cart, and a hefty helping of that good honest sweat. But it worked and by 1929, Coxmoor had become a full 18 hole challenge.
It is interesting to look at the plan, drawn from memory by Bill White, and note that the new nine holes on the opposite side of the road, were built around the site of a smallpox isolation hospital which must have stood close to where the white arched house is now seen.
Presumably records about this hospital do exist. It would be interesting to know something about its history.
To coincide with the lengthening of the course to 18 holes, which inevitably brought more pressure from an increased number of players, the committee decided to add a new room at the rear of the existing clubroom, together with improved gents toilet block, a shop for the professional, a pantry for the stewardess and an extended bar.
This was completed in 1930 and was called the Gents Smoke Room.
A sign on the door carried the solemn instruction – Men Only.
Green fees at this time were two shillings and sixpence for weekdays, three shillings for Saturdays and bank holidays and four shillings for Sundays.
Among the membership at this time was a certain well known cricketer from down the road at Nuncargate. Notts and England pace bowler Harold ‘Lol’ Larwood enjoyed a round at Coxmoor when he was not turning out at Trent Bridge or on his travels with the MCC.
Of course, in the early ’30s, this local hero became one of the most talked about cricketers of all time due to the Bodyline scandal during Douglas Jardine’s Ashes tour to Australia.
Larwood, the ex-miner and Coxmoor golf club member, caused an international incident with questions raised in parliament at home and Down Under, with his lethal line of bowling attack against the Aussie batsmen. After that notorious series, Larwood resigned his membership at Coxmoor and eventually chose to make his home in Australia where he lived out the rest of his days.
An event of more significance within the confines of Coxmoor was the decision in 1931 to elect Mrs Donald, wife of former captain Dr Donald, as the first lady to be balloted onto the general committee. In that same year, Mr J. Greenwood offered to provide the clubhouse with an honours board, listing the captains and presidents.
It was around this time as well, that Coxmoor was connected to the outside world by the introduction of the telephone. To contact the clubhouse, callers would dial Sutton 48.
Among the characters Bill White remembers from those early days are men like J. T. Hodgson, John Edward Scott and the builder Joe Searson who, more than 60 years ago, put five shelters on the course – and never sent the club a bill for the work.
Today, there is only one still left standing: between the 11th and 16th holes.
Others were situated by the second green – removed recently during course improvement work to the third tee; on the 18th and the 3rd holes, but these latter two were burnt down by intruders, as was the original shelter on the 14th. The shelter that stands there today is of later construction.
With the advent of the 1930s, the story of Coxmoor was preparing for another important chapter. While other courses have tinkered with various holes over the years, moving tees, re-shaping greens, adding and removing bunkers, Coxmoor has undergone a number of major re-designs to arrive at the nurse we know today.
The most important move, as far as members were concerned, was to get the course contained on one side of Coxmoor Road.
And the key to the sort of future envisaged by the membership, was acquiring more land so that a new course of 18 holes could be laid out around the clubhouse.
Negotiations between the Coxmoor officers and the management of Welback Estates continued off and on until 1934 when agreement was reached to lease more land on the clubhouse side of Coxmoor Road.
Tom Williamson from the Notts Golf Club was again invited by Coxmoor to view the land and produce a plan for a completely new 18 hole course. (See course plan)
In September of that year Mr Williamson met a delegation of directors and committee on the course, showed them his vision for Coxmoor and asked for their opinions. The committee was unanimously in favour and Tom Williamson was given the job of creating the new Coxmoor – the foundations for the course we know today were finally being laid.
Once again, Tom teamed up with Len White to build the new course, using old Ted Fish’s tractor and some tried and trusted methods which today would seem primitive to say the least.
In those days grass for the fairways wasn’t purchased by the sackload from some local garden centre or seed merchant, it was collected by literally hand-stripping it from the fescue growing naturally over the land – the same thick, wiry grass that today claims so many lost balls! The seed was then spread over the fairways and fertilised by the barrowload … after the fertiliser had been collected by some of the greenkeeper’s lads, in wheelbarrows, and pushed all the way from Sutton gas yard in Fox Street. It produced very different ground conditions to the ones that we know today.
The fairways were hard and fast and balls would bounce along for great distances.
A bunker had to be laid along the length of the 16th fairway to prevent shots running out of bounds. Today, that bunker is overgrown and full of trees, but ball hunters can easily discern its shape and depth as they cast around beneath the branches.
The original layout was also different to the one we play today – as can easily be seen by referring to Bill White’s map. For instance, the present ninth green was originally the fifth, and the seventh green is now the 12th. The course, for the most part, was devoid of trees, and so was open to the elements which, at this highest point in the county, would often be windy and cold.
The challenge facing the golfers in those pre-war years was certainly different, and definitely no easier than the demands of the modern-day
Aside from the natural problems of wind and terrain, they had to cope with equipment still awaiting the explosion of technological development which began slowly after the war and has since gathered pace at a rate the pocket can barely keep up with.
The clubs were often made by the professional whose main role in life at that time was the repair and maintenance of equipment.
Clubs were made with hickory shafts and steel heads which were always going rusty. The club pro had a never-ending job of replacing worn parts.
In each player’s canvas and leather carrying bag would be a number one wood, a brassie (number two wood), spoon (number three wood), mashie (five/six iron), mashie niblick (eight/nine iron), niblick (wedge) and perhaps a driving iron. They faced holes which were much shorter than the current design, with the longest at around 300 yards. But using those old clubs and the gutta percha balls, the very best players would be happy to carry 180 yards.
Mention of the gutta percha is perhaps a good point to quickly explain the evolution of the golf ball. When the game of Gof or Colf was brought from Holland to Scotland as early as 1300, so the story goes, it was played with a single club, usually in towns and played towards a target such as a door. Early players hit round stones they had picked off the beach.
The game began to take shape in Scotland in the 1650s when it was moved out of the towns and onto land beside the east coast towns and ports. It was in Leith where the world’s first golf club The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, was founded.
The Stuart monarchs helped to spread the popularity of the game and when James VI of Scotland took the throne of Great Britain as James I he brought golf down to London.
The potential for a game of skill was quickly appreciated and so they devised a ball which was called a feathery.
It comprised of a small piece of leather, stuffed with feathers – a top hat full was the amount which had to go into the ball -which was then stitched up and rolled until it took up a rounded shape.
A big lad, with a strong arm, could probably hit it all of 80 yards.
But golf remained very much a reserve of the wealthy and did not really take off until the year 1848 when the new gutty ball appeared, made from malleable gutta-percha. This was a cheap, durable alternative to the short-lived feathery or the wooden ball that preceded it.
Researchers came up with a whitish rubbery substance, derived from the coagulated milky latex of the Palaquium tree of Malaya. This was called Gutta-percha.
No doubt, this strange substance had been brought to England by a sailor who handed it on until it fell into the hands of a bright spark with the imagination to turn it into a ball.
A nice round smooth white ball was just what those pioneering golfers had been looking for. They could hit it a lot further – but it would not go straight. At least, not until its case had been marked with cuts and ‘smiles’. So the next generation of ball was made with cuts already made in the cover and these were called Guttys.
With that, and the development of better and more versatile clubs, the new well-off middle class created by the industrial revolution started to flock by rail to Scotland for golfing holidays, with Berwick and St Andrew’s among the most popular destinations.
In return, Scotland sent south a horde of golf course designers and professionals like Willie Dunn, Willie Park – the designer of Hollinwell – and later Donald Ross, to spread the message across the country and on to foreign parts.
In 1912 came another major step forward with the development of the Haskell ball. with a rubber core, wound with rubber thread, and a gutta-percha cover. It was a great advance in design and is the model from which today’s highly sophisticated golf balls are derived. Those Coxmoor golfers playing in the years between the wars would have appreciated the better quality of ball. They were aiming at much smaller targets than we see today and it is still possible to discern one or two of the smaller, original greens as you walk around the course.
On the present eighth, just over the top of the hill, there is the outline of a green on the extreme left of the fairway. And on the 13th, just before you get to the ridge on the right side of the fairway you can make out the shape of an old green.
Bill White makes one other fascinating observation about today’s layout of Coxmoor.
Where, on the earlier holes, you had shots which could result in the ball being pushed out of bounds, no such shots exist today for the right-hander. All the out of bounds areas lie to the left.
By now, the rule on caddies at Coxmoor had been relaxed and Bill White recalls there were three regulars available to carry for members, including a man named Jack Smith, and his brother.
As far as Bill can recall, they received something like a shilling a bag.
Bill Drury, head greenkeeper from 1947-69
For Tom Williamson and Len White, the creation of another new course was another triumph and over the next dozen years, Len and his team of helpers nurtured it along, planting trees, building bunkers, shaping greens and generally producing a course to be proud of.
But Len had been at it since 1923 and just after the end of World War Two, no longer enjoying the best of health due to an injury he received while working on the course (which is explained a little later), he went to the committee and asked if he could relinquish his duties of greenkeeper.
Len White had given remarkable, dedicated service to the creation and maintenance of the golf course and the committee were reluctant to let him go, but understandably, they accepted his decision.
Messrs H. J. Johnson and W. Drury were later appointed to the role of greenkeepers.
It was around this time that the club opened up fresh negotiations with Welbeck Estates on the subject of the land they leased – but this time the Coxmoor committee had a new proposition for Welbeck and its owner the Duke of Portland. They announced that the time had come for Coxmoor to be its own landlord and duly offered to buy the course, lock, stock and 18 holes.
That was the signal for a series of meetings at which there was much hard-talking, bargaining and the burning of a few gallons of midnight oil before a deal could be hammered out.
Initially, the two sides were poles apart. Welbeck wanted the princely sum of £30 an acre for the 161 acres of Coxmoor golf course – a total of £4,830. Coxmoor’s officers were mandated to go no higher than £2,500.
The negotiations were deadlocked and Coxmoor could not even win permission to secure ten acres for a new clubhouse complex. For the time being, the transaction was put on hold: Coxmoor would reluctantly have to continue as fee-paying tenants of the Duke’s estate.
By now, Len White’s health was beginning to fail him and in August 1947, the committee sadly accepted his resignation as steward of the club. That meant Len and Sarah had to move out of the clubhouse accommodation so they made their new home in Red Lodge, a house in Thoresby Avenue at Kirkby.
He would continue as professional however, and the club provided him with a wooden building near the first tee to house his shop while a new couple, Mr and Mrs Harriman, took over the club bar activities.
In that same month, E. S. B. Hopkin, the club’s secretary since Coxmoor was founded in 1913, also resigned. Mr G. C. Harris was appointed as his paid successor.
During the last ten years of Mr Hopkin’s reign, most of his duties had been performed by his head clerk Mr Leslie D. Naylor.
Although not a member of the club, he sat in at committee meetings to take notes and made weekly visits to Coxmoor, travelling by train from Mansfield and then walking the nine-tenths of a mile up the hill from Sutton Junction station.
One of his tasks was to ensure the prompt payment of subscriptions – and quietly bring it to the attention of those who were lagging behind with their dues.
Captain’s Day gathering in front of the old clubhouse. The year is either 1948 when Joe Coupe (front left) was captain or 1947 when Albert Francis (front right) was captain
A list of the membership was displayed in the clubhouse and as each member settled his account for the year, a red star would be placed beside his name for all to see.
In those early post-war years, the subscription fee was four pounds for men, two pounds ten shillings for ladies and fifteen shillings (75p) for non-players.
Both Bill and Dorothea White remember the members using the course to create their own fun on those few occasions when it was not fit to play because of snow.
They remember organised sledging parties which used to go on well after dark if a full moon was shining, from one side of today’s 13th fairway to the other.
This was in the days when there were no trees to the right of the fairway, no heather on the bank and it was possible to launch a sledge from the top of the bank.
“Lots of members had their own sledges and they could really make them fly down the hill,” recalls Mrs White.
“The only thing you had to make sure of was that you put the brakes on before you crashed into the hedge on the other side.”
Hot toddies brought out on trays from the clubhouse helped to keep the cold out and the spirits high.
And Dorothy Alberry recalled: “We used to fetch tin trays from the clubhouse and use them as sledges. People used to bring picnics and flasks of soup.”
The popularity and expansion of golf was a very slow affair until the advent of television coverage in the late 1950s.
The leading golfers of the day began to acquire personality status. The likes of Dal Rees, Max Faulkner, Brian Huggett, Peter Alliss and Neil Coles became the leading figures on the British circuit and more and more was being heard of overseas stars like Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and a young American named Jack Nicklaus -but more of his links to Coxmoor later.
A poster for the Dunlop tournament of 1961, with a 6,000 prize fund
Nottinghamshires reputation as a home of fine golf courses was not lost on the tournament organisers at the R&A and in 1961, the county was chosen to host the prestigious Dunlop tournament, which carried the not inconsiderable prize fund of £6,000.
The qualifying rounds brought such names as five times Open champion Peter Thompson and legendary South African Bobby Locke to Coxmoor before the final two rounds were played over the Hollinwell course.
As public awareness of the delights of the game was raised, so demand for membership at Coxmoor and other golf clubs grew apace.
The somewhat primitive club house which had served Coxmoor members so well for more than 40 years, with its open fireplace and antiquated toilets, had to be replaced.
But, like every major change, it was viewed with a degree of regret.
Thoughts of the old clubhouse take Year 2000 captain Alan Crafts back to his beginnings in the game and he recalls the building with fondness.
“This gem of golf country is, suppose, almost a part of me since my father took me up to play when we were both beginners.
“I was about 12 at the time and we walked out from that old clubhouse to the 13th hole (now the ninth), so no one would see our efforts.
“In spite of my total inexperience I had a good eye and managed to hit one or two decent shots.
“I remember finding an old Crowflight ball with square shaped dimples.
“The golf bug had bitten and I played as often as possible, until 11pm during the latter part of World War Two when we had double summer time.
I often played with Ken Shaws brother Geoff and a young greenkeeper named Eric Barlow, and of course, with Alec Shepperson. Sometimes we played 45 roles in the day. In those days everyone carried their own bags and rounds took about two and half hours. Around the time Bill became professional trolleys were introduced and the incredible effect was to put rounds up to three hours-plus!
Teacher and pupil together: Bill White shows Alan Crafts the way in 1961 – note the early trolleys and bags!
Mr Len White gave us our first golf lessons and when he died, Bill White took over as professional.
What a revelation it was to see him hit the ball very long and straight, with a characteristic low take-off boring through the air and on a rising flight. What an inspiration!
I remember the old clubhouse gents room had a wonderful smell of old leather and canvas – no synthetic material in those days. There was a double row of lockers all round, of course, with a central seat-cum-clothes stand like todays mens locker room. Old hickory clubs and leather and canvas bags would be propped under the bay window. Odd pairs of shoes and knitted sweaters and jackets hung on pegs.
The general room had a bar in the corner and a double row of lockers round the walls.
This was fine until you wanted to put your clubs away. If members were eating, you suddenly became a little unpopular.
The gents bar, which was at the back of the general room, was a sparse, simply furnished room with linoleum on the floor.
To go in there was forbidden to juniors, but when the door opened, one could see a lot of happy faces through a blue haze of smoke.
There was always much laughter.
I also remember old Len and Sally White, Bill s mum and dad, when they were steward and stewardess.
Geoff and I would buy a plain tea, bread, margarine and jam and a pot of tea for one shilling and threepence (about eight pence in today’s currency).
“Being growing lads, we sometimes asked for more and Mrs White never refused, bless her.
“The secretary at that time was Gilbert Harris, who was landlord of the Denman’s Head Hotel on Sutton Market Place.
“He was a very large, portly man who always wore a dark brown pinstripe suit with a watch chain across a very tight waistcoat.
“He was a rather fierce looking man, but very conscientious. I have seen him chase across the course, sweating profusely, to apprehend some unfortunate member for committing some misdemeanour or other. But underneath it all, he was a very kind man.”
However, no-one was in any doubt, despite the familiarity of their surroundings, that the time for change was long overdue.
Not only did the somewhat modest clubhouse not present the right image to the increasing number of visitors coming to play one of the finest courses in the county, there were more immediate and pressing problems to address.
Swinging on the old clubhouse patio.Note the old reservoir building which is still standing
Stories of Bill White’s bed rocking in the wind because the building was so rickety and the discovery that the clubhouse was not actually rooted to the ground as the foundations had rotted away, convinced everyone that something had to be done.
In fact, the subject of a new clubhouse had been the subject of discussion, and financial consideration since 1945.
Captain Arthur Vardy had made it his mission for his year of office to start a building fund and by the end of his term, he had handed over £300 with the request that fund-raising continue in subsequent years.
By the time the next annual general meeting had rolled round, the clubhouse kitty had swelled to more than £1,000 and o it went over the following years until, in 1955, when club captain Edgar Coates that at £5,300, the fund was accumulating too slowly.
Swinging on the edge of the old putting green showing Bill White’s professional shop. Note the large ash tree which still stands there today
He decided to launch a football sweep to speed things along. That got the committee galvanised into coming up with more money-spinning ideas and the following year. 20 members were offered life membership for the payment of £100. A weekly lottery, called the Coxmoor Golf Club supporters Fund, was also launched by Sob Ellis.
The coffers were now beginning to build, but it was the generosity of golf fanatic Sir Stewart Goodwin, a Sheffield steel magnate who had made his home in Nottinghamshire – in Farnsfield to be pre-,:Ise – and had become well known as a generous benefactor to worthy causes in the area, which provided the final impetus.
He became interested in the affairs of Coxmoor and gave the club several thousand pounds.
Thanks to that timely sponsorship, building was able to start on August 27, 1960, and fittingly, Sir Stewart was invited to Coxmoor to cut the first sod.
However, what should have been a fairly simple affair was not quite so straightforward as it might sound – because Bill White felt it his duty to point out a slight miscalculation to the committee … they had chosen the wrong site for the clubhouse!
It had been decided to put up the new building at the back of the 12th green – but to Bill’s mind this was the wrong place entirely … and, with some trepidation, he approached the committee to put them straight.
‘I thought I would get the sack for going against the committee’s opinion, but I said it should be built where it now stands.
`The original site had no electricity, no water, no car park.’
Fortunately, they heeded Bill’s words of advice and by 1961, Coxmoor had a new, modern facility costing upwards of £20,000. It was built by Vic Hallam and, with certain alterations and improvements, remains to this day.
There was quite a turn-out of dignitaries at the opening ceremony including Len Stimpson, chairman of what was then Sutton Urban District Council and the long-serving clerk Walter Laughton.
The weather was so bad they had to hold the outdoor event under a marquee – but that did not stop a special inaugural golf match to mark the occasion.
Legendary Welsh golfer Dai Rees was the guest professional and he was given the honour of hitting the first shot. He was followed onto the tee by Alec Shepperson.
Dai was partnered by home professional Bill White, Alec by his Walker Cup colleague Alan Bussell.
Bill remembers, fondly, that the event was organised by the 1958 captain and former Nottingham Forest chairman Geoffrey Macpherson who, throughout his life, was an enthusiastic supporter of Coxmoor.
In 1959 he arranged for the FA Cup to be brought to the club in the weeks after Forest’s 2-1 Wembley win over Luton Town. The trophy was accompanied by one of the heroes of the day, goalscorer Roy Dwight, his leg still in plaster after he broke it in the final.
“Geoffrey was one of the most outstanding captains the club ever had,” says Bill White.
There has been much talk in recent years of funding a new clubhouse for the 21st Century but, at the time of writing, the only major change to the facilities at Coxmoor has been the addition of a purpose-built professional’s shop for David Ridley and his staff which has created an attractive and functional facility worthy of the club’s standing.
Out on the course, improvements continue all the time under the dedicated watch of head greenkeeper Kevin Atherton and his staff.
Today, Coxmoor regularly appears in golf magazine lists among the top 100 inland courses in the UK.
Over recent years, it has been honoured by a number of prestigious competitions including the venue for regional qualifying the Open Golf Championship, and also the British seniors competition which attracted amateurs from around the world.
It is all a far cry from that October night in 1913 when Rev Shelmerdine and friends sat down in the town to discuss the possibility of opening a nine hole golf course somewhere in Sutton.
Sir Stewart Goodwin cuts the first sod to mark the start of construction on the new clubhouse in 1960. Among others pictured are Ivan Bennett, Kate Walton, Hilda Lowe, Dorothy Alberry, Geoffrey Macpherson, Mrs Olive Hancock, George Warner, clubhouse architect; Ken Shaw, Lady Goodwin, with the flowers, Alan Packer, Alec Shepperson, Councillor Len Stimpson, chairman of Sutton Urban District Council, Bill Arbon, Walter Laughton, clerk to the council, and George Barke.
Coxmoor lies on a sandy, pebbly strata and at around 500-600 feet above sea level, it is exposed to the north and east winds which, for around nine months of the year, generally blow in from Russia, cold and hard, across the highest points of the course.
Given those conditions, some trees are better than others at adapting and surviving.
In 1934-36 when the present course was -being constructed, there were no trees to be seen.
Every birch, beech and pine tree that gives Coxmoor its character, has either been planted or self set during the last 60 years.
Looking round the tree-lined holes today. it is hard to believe this was barren land. But as the trees have spread and flourished, so they brought their own problems and to keep Coxmoor in tip-top condition, the club is constantly seeking advice and guidance of university agronomists to ensure the foliage enhances Coxmoors natural beauty but does not endanger it.
Of ten large ash trees originally planted in the boundary hedges, only three remain.
Eight plantations, mainly of Scots Pine, were planted at the time and these can still be seen on the third, fourth, tenth, 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes.
Afterwards, silver birch trees were planted in strings and over the years, the club, captains, committee, ladies and individuals have supplied, and even helped to plant and set, numerous trees around the course.
They account for the wide variety which now proliferates: Larch, alder, ilex, sorbus, silver leaf poplar, willow, rhododendron, sycamore, rowan, three oaks, dog rose, elderberry, hawthorn, gorse, broom.
The year that Edgar Coates was captain, Bill White travelled to Beeston Fields Golf Club with him, to fill a car with silver leaf poplar by kind permission of John Mitchell, owner of the Beeston club.Sometimes I wish we hadn’t, says Bill today. they are very fast growing, and invasive, and they shed those white leaves in autumn which make ball spotting so difficult, especially on the ninth, 11th and 13th.
It is a pity we don t have more flowering trees, such as cherry and lilac, which would improve the courses appearance.
It is a view echoed by Alan Crafts who adds: As the course develops and the present trees die, possibly a more balanced approach will be adopted.
Around 30 years ago, Lewis Shepperson planted 50 Lombardy poplar trees, but now there are only about half-a-dozen left.
Down at ground level, there are a number of flowering plants that can be seen around the course.
These include teasel, field scabious, Red Campion, Rose Bay, foxglove, heather, Scarlet Pimpernel, dead nettle, Scotch thistle, tansey, coltsfoot, cats ear, dandelion, ragwort, buttercup, daisy, yarrow, ox eye daisy, early purple orchid, common quaking grass, harebell and snowdrops.
There is also common rush, bracken, Royal fern, shaggy inkcap, blue stalk and the pretty, but very poisonous fly agaric which abounds in the autumn.
But sadly, there are no cowslips, primrose or buttercups to be seen.
And, of course, there is the heather. Pretty in autumn, but often cursed by wayward drivers. However, it gives Coxmoor a unique link with one of the most famous golf courses in the world – Carnoustie.
It was on a cool afternoon in 1953 that Dorothy Alberry was up on the Scottish coast watching Ben Hogan win his one and only Open championship – on his one and only visit to the competition – that she dug out a few roots of heather and brought it back to Coxmoor.
A study by club member and Chad photographer Roger Grayson, showing Coxmoor with its winter coat
Those few roots were planted on the right hand side of what is now the 13th fairway. The weather, animals and birds have done the job of spreading them
around the course.
Not everyone is convinced about the heather, especially when you have to hack away at a trapped ball, but they do give Coxmoor a signature that is known and remembered by everyone who plays the course.
During the 1930s the first attempts at irrigating the sandrock-based course was taken with cast iron and galvanised pipes being laid.
A 10,000 gallon reservoir with pumping equipment, driven by a petrol paraffin engine, on top was built by J. Searson Ltd of Sutton in a sandhole near to the water mains and Bill Drury’s greenkeeping building and enclosed in what can be seen today when passing from the 12th green a the 13th tee.
The spraying equipment consisted of three 3ft high and three 6ft high double-armed monstrosities which whirled round at the dizzy speed of 20 rpm.
Portable, it could be hauled from green to green and connected to an underground concrete box.
Such was its limitations however, a green like today’s 13th would require four moves to water it completely.
Another major drawback was the subsidence caused by the workings of the old Summit Colliery which ran directly beneath the course, causing frequent pipe fractures.
Pressure to distant greens like 2-3-4-5 and 17 was only enough to operate one sprinkler at a time.
Problems with windy conditions, evaporation due to the spraying only being carried out during daylight hours when greenkeeping staff were on duty … and golfers moving the equipment when they wanted to putt and often not putting it back, were a constant concern.
Compare that to today’s sophisticated methods: electric power, plastic pipes, pop-up sprinkler heads.
Sandholes were dug all over the course during the construction of the course – for greens, bunkers, mounds.
Many are now hidden by undergrowth, but one can be seen on the right of the 12th. round about drive length, which was christened Skegness and was quite a hazzard
before the trees appeared.
Another was in front of the third tee and another deep one is to the left of the tenth green.
The one Bill Drury took shelter in when the aircraft crashed on the course in 1970 is left of the men’s back tee on the fifth.
The final one to be excavated is at the bottom of the practice ground near the 17th tee – deep and dangerous.
Owing to the sandy subsoil, Coxmoor has its fair share of burrowing animals, most common of course being the rabbit, which is a perennial nuisance, leaving its holes in the fairways and bunkers.
Another constant source of nuisance because of this particular habit is the mole.
The grey squirrel is also seen in great numbers, but foxes are rare, although occasionally seen around the seventh and 12th fairways.
At one time, grasshoppers and also frogs were prevalent around the course, but no longer. Every summer, the ditch across the 14th fairway used to be full of frog spawn but there is very little evidence of breeding today.
As for bird life, the story is even more disappointing.
Despite what would seem to be ideal conditions, the number of different species once observed around the course, has long since diminished, the parents and chicks
having long ago fled the nest, never to return.
The lark has all but vanished, as has the green linnet. During the 1950s and ’60s, they nested in great numbers in the gorse bushes.
The partridge is another bird that has been driven away over the decades, from the time when coveys of 10 to 12 used to abound during the summer.
Flocks of starlings still settle on the fairway and Hollinwell’s rook colonies sometimes wing their way over to Coxmoor for a visit, but the lapwing, which was once prolific in the field to the left of the 16th hole, is long gone.
Bill White said: “Up to the 1960s, there was such a person as a gamekeeper who kept down the vermin population, and by that I mean the magpie which, to my mind, is the death knell for the small bird population, helped by the grey squirrel.”
One bright spot is the grey wagtail which feeds off the putting green and has been known to nest in the hydrangea beneath the office window.
And of course, there is also the robin which pops out to greet members around the course.
Another story from Bill’s vast reservoir of memories is worthy of inclusion here.
That was the day Bill was playing down the 13th fairway when a slightly wayward shot flushed a startled duck out of the undergrowth.
When Bill went over to see if there was a nest, he discovered to his surprise, hidden beneath the foliage was the hen’s home – complete with three eggs … and two golf balls!
The story of this strange family brood very quickly spread and eventually it came to the attention of the local BBC television station.
Smelling a scoop, the station sent a camera crew to get some film of the duck nurturing its clutch of odd eggs.
But when the camera crew arrived at Coxmoor, Bill would not allow them to go and film the nest for fear they would scare off the mother.
Bill says he never went back to the nest to check if the ducklings hatched.
We can only assume the golf balls didn’t!
Before we move away from the story of the course, two incidents should be recorded.
Coxmoor can claim a unique record, certainly for this part of the world, of being the scene of two air crashes – one which ended in tragedy, the other in miraculous escape.
The first came more than 50 years ago, during the dark days of the Second World War.
On a foggy morning in 1941, a Blenheim bomber came roaring over the course, the pilot almost certainly disorientated by the poor visibility.
Perhaps not aware that he was flying over the highest point between here and the Ural mountains of Russia, the pilot was too low when he passed over Coxmoor, heading west, and he ripped into overhead cables which wrapped around his propeller, forcing the engine to lose power.
Bill White recalls the incident quite clearly. “He must have come over the seventh tee and straight down the hole because we could see where, just in front of the green, his props had cut grooves, before coming to rest on the green.
“One can imagine it was like running into a brick wall when the plane hit the bank at the rear of the green.
“Unfortunately, it then disintegrated, and because of the speed it hit the bank, debris was thrown into the next valley – wheels, engines, tanks, wings and bits of all shapes and sizes were spread from the eighth fairway all the way to Bill Drury’s shed.’
Sadly the pilot who, by a strange quirk of fate, was named Mansfield, did not survive. But because the plane was new and was, apparently, being ferried to an airfield, presumably to be prepared for frontline service, he was the only person on board.
Imagine the surprise of member Jim Horsley, who was playing on that fateful morning, when he walked through the mist towards the seventh green and came across the wrecked aircraft.
There was also, during the war, a forced landing by another RAF plane.
Bill White says: “I understand, but did not see it, that a Lysander – one of those high wing monoplanes they used to land agents behind enemy lines – came down on the 16th fairway and, after some minor adjustments, safely took off again.
`This was in spite of the fact that Coxmoor had been compelled to produce speed humps across all fairways … to prevent German invasion forces landing!”
There is still a long low earth mound in the rough half way down the 1st (right half of the 14th in the ’40s) which was put in as an aircraft trap.
The second major incident involving aircraft occurred on a day in January 1971 when the clubhouse, golf course, players and residents of the surrounding area had something of a miraculous escape.
Two RAF Canberra jet bombers collided in the sky above Coxmoor at around 10,000 feet and at a speed of 300mph.
The impact sent wreckage showering over an area of around six square miles, like confetti in the wind.
Headline news in the Evening Post of January 1971
Much of it landed across Coxmoor golf course.
One of the stricken jets came down on the 16th fairway, the other in a field opposite.
Bill Drury and some of his staff were working on the fourth hole as the collision occurred and they were forced to dive for shelter in a bunker to avoid lumps of metal which came crashing down from above.
The incident made headline news around the country and a security cordon was thrown around the golf course as Ministry of Defence experts were flown in by helicopter to begin an investigation and search for classified, top secret equipment which, the media was informed, had been carried on the planes.
Five airmen baled out, four landing on the course, the other in woods near Harlow Wood Hospital.
All were taken to Harlow Wood Hospital with back injuries, although none were seriously hurt.
However, it quickly emerged that the towns of Sutton, Kirkby and Mansfield had had a remarkable escape.
One of the pilots, Flying Officer Douglas Irwin was interviewed by a reporter from the Nottingham Evening Post while still lying in his Mansfield hospital bed.
He told the newsman: “It was just plain luck that we did not land in a built-up area.
“We did not have time to point the planes at the countryside and pick our spot.”
Crowds of curious local people defied the restrictions on access to get a glimpse of the stricken planes and local police chief Superintendent John A. Weselby broadcast an appeal to anyone who found a piece of the wreckage to hand it over to the authorities.
While the investigation was continuing on the ground, Coxmoor was closed to everyone and secretary William Arbon was told that play could not begin again until the Ministry of Defence officials had finished their work and given the all-clear.
As a footnote to those amazing incidents, it is perhaps worth recording that on a summer’s evening two hot air balloons came down on the course near the entrance gate and on another memorable evening, but perhaps hair-raising occasion for those who were playing, an advertising airship flew straight up the course, barely clearing the clubhouse roof on its passage.
In the 87 years of Coxmoor Golf Club’s existance. many things have changed.
The course bears little resemblance to that on which the first balls were struck back in 1914, and over the decades, members have come and gone, captains change with every passing year and the roll call of club secretaries runs into double figures.
It is what anyone would expect of such thriving organisation – but how many clubs anywhere UK can boast a record of only three professionals over a period of 87 years … and two of them from the same family.
In those early pioneering days when the outline of the club was still being shaped. the members struggled along without the guidance of a paid expert to coach them in the finer points of the game, repair their clubs and teach them the rules and etiquette expected.
But in 1924, Coxmoor began an association with the White family from Bulwell which would survive, unbroken, for more than 60 years and leave an indelible mark on the club’s history.
Len White, who was born in Bulwell in 1887, began his golfing career as the assistant professional at Bulwell Forest before joining legendary pro Tom Williamson at Hollinwell in 1902.
Coxmoor first professional Len White
Len White’s first job in charge of a golf club was at Sutton-on-Sea but he did not remain there many years before the call of the wild tempted him and he emigrated to
the New World in search of his fortune.
He made his home in Edmonton, Alberta, and between the years 1910 and 1911, he was responsible for the construction of the Canadian city’s golf course.
But in those far off days, there was not enough money to be made in golf so Len turned his hand to farming. That did not work too well either, especially when a raging thunderstorm washed away most of his land and crops.
Tom decided to return to England and his chosen profession, taking positions at golf clubs in The Wirral and Hornsea.
Then Tom got another call – but this time it was to join the First World War effort.
Tom’s skills as a golf coach stood him in good stead because the Army used him as a weapons instructor.
He left behind his Sandiacre-born wife Sarah to run the golf club while he went off and did his bit for King and country.
Fortunately, Tom came home from the war to end all wars unscathed and was able to resume his golfing duties at Hornsea.
But the ex-Bulwell lad was still not settled and once again he turned to farming, this time in Warwickshire.
Len was clearly having problems establishing a settled life as he moved between golf and farming, on both sides of the Atlantic, and perhaps, when he arrived at Coxmoor in 1923, he saw the club as just another step along the road of life.
And the early signs were not particularly auspicious.
When he arrived at Coxmoor, he discovered there was no living accommodation within the clubhouse.
For a married couple with a young family, it was hardly the ideal situation, but Len clearly saw something in the job that appealed to him. He left his family behind in Warwickshire and took lodgings at Red House Farm.
The club’s officers quickly realised that the situation had to be resolved if they were to retain Len’s services. They built two bedrooms above a new ladies room as living quarters.
This meant the ladies had to go from the main entrance along a path and down some steps to reach the ladies room.
But, after a year, it was ready for occupation and Len was able to bring his wife Sarah, and their two children, ten year-old son Bill and daughter Joyce, aged three, to their new home at Coxmoor.
Father and son: Len and Bill White pictured at a Notts Alliance meeting at Stanton-on-the-Wolds in 1934
Bill had visited Coxmoor with his father earlier, riding in the dickie seat of a red two-seater Salmson car, to take a look.
They moved in 1924, arriving from Warwickshire in a furniture van. Bill can remember being warned not to fall off as they made their way around the water tower to get to the clubhouse.
Len’s wanderlust was satisfied and he began to set down roots which would remain in place for the rest of his life. He obviously felt the young, growing club
was something he could help and influence and so he concentrated his efforts on the general management of the club and, in particular, the repair and maintenance of the
facilities and equipment.
Son Bill recalled: ‘Dad was never much – player, there weren’t any tournaments for him to enter in those days so he concentrated on helping the members as much as
he could and on looking after the course.
He got up early in the morning to work on the greens, then he gave lessons and in the evening he tended the bar.’
There was more than enough work to keep Len, and Sarah busy. With the golf course barely ten years old, there was much to do to keep it in good playing condition and as for the equipment, those old Hickory shafted clubs were always in need of repair and replacement. In fact, steel shafted clubs did not become generally available until 1929.
At his side, when he was not doing his schooling at Station Road and Hardwick Street, was his son Bill. Looking back, Bill’s future was mapped out for him almost from the day he was born.
It was just always there for me and, fortunately, I took to it,’ Bill says.
Len taught his eager son all he knew about the game and before long, Bill had left school to join him more or less full time at Coxmoor.
Then, in 1931, he left his father and became assistant to Hollinwell professional Tom Williamson.
But where Len was never anything more a solid and dependable full time club professional, Bill had a more competitive spirit and wanted to put his game to the
highest test available.
Tall and willowy, he developed into a long, straight-hitter, particularly when he had an iron in his hands.
He entered competitions whenever and wherever he could, and with a fair degree of success.
In 1939, the British Assistants Championship was played around Hollinwell and Bill used his course knowledge, allied to a skilful game, to take the title. In fact, 1939 was a good year for Bill. He finished the eighth highest money winner in Britain – his total prize money for a season of success was £200.
He remembers winning £50 for coming fourth in an Irish tournament around that time and also recalls the day he travelled to a tournament on his motorbike, with his bag and clubs across his shoulders.
Comparisons with the style and luxury today’s golfers enjoy are unworthy. It was a different era, different standards, different expectations – but there is no reason to suppose Bill White would not have fared equally as well, if not better, against today’s exciting generation of professionals.
Bill’s performances took him to the fringes of the Ryder Cup team – a much-coveted honour even in those days when Great Britain and Ireland always lost to the USA.
But at a crucial time in his tournament career World War Two intervened.
At the outbreak of the war, his father Len joined the local Home Guard, and in those early, dark days as Hitler rampaged through Europe and appeared ready to invade, Len did everything he could to make sure his family would be safe, should paratroopers suddenly drop out of the sky and onto Coxmoor’s fairways.
He had an air raid shelter built near the workmen’s hut and he also took other precautions to safeguard his valuables.
Bill takes up the story: “He put all his documents in a 71b biscuit tin and buried it in the bunker on the left hand side of the 13th fairway.
“He told me ‘if I am killed, you know where the papers are buried’.
As events unfolded of course, Herr Hitler chose not to invade Britain and Coxmoor was spared the ignominy of having jackboots marching up the clubhouse drive. After VE Day, Len was able to burrow down into that bunker, retrieve his documents and get on with the rest of his life.
Sadly, Len would not have too many years left. Running a golf club in all its many aspects, was a hard life and over the years the varying demands, mainly physical, had taken their toll.
There were no motor mowers to cut the greens and as far back as the 1920s, Bill can recall the trouble that had to be taken to mow the fairways.
Len would borrow a horse from Red House Farm to haul the mowing equipment, making sure to slip on leather shoes over the horse’s hooves to protect the surface.
The height of mechanised machinery during Len’s days was an old Model T Ford tractor which had to be crank started.
Anyone who can remember having to get the starting handle out to their cars in those days can easily picture Len putting his shoulder into the job, straining to turn the heavy old engine.
One morning, in 1943, the exertions found a weakness in Len’s chest, tearing his aorta.
`There were no heart by-pass operations in those days,’ said Bill. “They gave him tablets to coat the inside of the veins to stop the loss of blood through the tear.”
That caused Len to scale down his duties and just after the end of the Second World War he handed on the greenkeeping side of the job to concentrate on the physically less demanding role of club professional.
Len was to live for another couple of years until, in April 1948, he was giving a lesson to a visitor named Sillitoe out on the course, near the 12th green when he collapsed
`They all thought it was a nice way for him to go’ said his son Bill.
Len White was 62 when he died. His wife Sarah died on April 1, 1956.
At the time of Len White’s death, his son Bill was attached to the Hornsea club – again following in the footsteps of his father.
It seemed the natural thing for him to apply for the vacancy caused by the death of his father at Coxmoor, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion as there were a number of excellent candidates and if Bill wanted to succeed his father, he would have to impress the committee by attending an interview.
Stylish Bill White, looking good in both swing and attire, pictured in 1985 at the age of 69, taking part in a pro-am to mark the diamond jubilee of the Notts Amateur and Professional Golfers Alliance, which Bill joined in 1930
But. Bill is the first to say, that he had a number of influential allies within the club. They were so determined that Bill would keep the family name of White flying over Coxmoor that they organised a petition campaigning for his selection and presented it to the coimmittee.
Whether it was needed or not is not recorded, but whatever. Bill got the job.
The only thing I ever wanted to be was a golf professional so I was delighted when they awarded me the job,’ he said.
In his first few years at Coxmoor, Bill would combine his club duties with the demands of tournament play. By 1949, he had competed for the Open Championship on six occasions, up against the likes of Henry Cotton, Fred Daly and Max Faulkner.
`I remember Henry playing in the group behind mine one year and the crowds were all following him. As I would be getting ready to putt, the crowds would come running down the fairway to get a good position around the green ready for Henry’s approach shot.’
Bill’s best finish in the Open was 31st.
On the local scene, he was highly successful, winning the Notts Open Championship on three occasions – Wollaton Park in 1956, Beeston Fields in 1961 and Sherwood Forest in 1972.
That final triumph at Sherwood Forest produced a remarkable finish and a fine collection of memories for the White family.
After the first two rounds, the name of White was high on the leader board with Bill, and his son Peter, an England international, one stroke off the pace, having shot 75 round the tough Mansfield course.
Bill had taken only 28 putts and he had to match that performance in the second round to take the title.
With three holes to go, he was trailing Beeston Fields’ Peter Shaw by one stroke, but he rolled in an eight footer on the 16th and got a par on the 17th to level. On the final hole both he and Shaw were bunkered near the green.
But Bill got up and down, thanks to a six foot putt, to take the title.
Bill also won the Midlands Senior Championship in 1975 and, in 1980, two years before he retired he was the Notts Amateur and Professional Alliance champion.
He is a life member of the Notts PGA and of Coxmoor Golf Club, and in 1979, he was elected president of the Notts Alliance, thus becoming the first professional to hold that particular honour.
Within the confines of Coxmoor, Bill was renowned as an excellent coach who helped to develop the outstanding careers of many golfers including Walker Cup player Alec Shepperson and boys internationals Alan Crafts and his own son Peter.
He also had a fierce reputation for handling newcomers to the club.
`I used to frighten them to death,’ says Bill, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. ‘They had to satisfy me that they knew enough about rules and etiquette to play on the golf course,’ he explained.
He also used to have a challenge for ladies who came to him for instruction. He would take them up to the first tee -now the 13th -and invite them to knock a drive past the tree on the left. Anyone who could do it would receive a free golf ball.
As Bill remembers, only one lady ever achieved the feat, a certain Mrs Wigley, and she was a Hollinwell member.
On December 31, 1982, at the age of 72. Bill finally retired.
Typically, he said: ‘I did not want to give up. Golf was, and still is, the love of my life.’
Thus ended the White years. They had begun in 1923 when a young man and his family arrived at a course without a home. and ended 62 years later with Bill saying farewell, as a professional, to one of the finest clubs in the country.
Winners of the Notts Amateur and Professional Alliance at Bulwell Forest in the 1930s: From left, John Kirk, captain 1933; J. M. Smith, captain 1937; Bill White, A. H. Briggs, captain 1931
David Ridley became Coxmoor’s third professional in its 85 year history in 1986 and, barring unforeseen circumstances, he is likely to be here to help the club celebrate its centenary in the year 2013.
Today’s professional David Ridley
He sees no reason to look for change at this stage in his highly successful career.
`Coxmoor is one of the best courses you will ever play,’ he says.
`It changes every day, due to the wind, and you could never get tired of playing it.’
Although the conditions can sometimes be tough for higher handicapped players, David is convinced that it is an essential part of Coxmoor’s quality and character which, along with Hollinwell, Sherwood and Worksop, sets it apart from lesser courses.
`That is why these courses develop so many good players, compared with the south of the county,’ he maintains.
`The heathland turf means the ball sits tight and you have to hit it just right, so ball strikers here become so much more superior.
`That is why Coxmoor has produced so many good iron players like Alec Shepperson and Alan Crafts.
`And of course Bill White himself, was an excellent iron player, one of the very best.’
In his heyday on the European tour, David Ridley wasn’t a bad striker of the ball either.
Born in Darlington, Co Durham, he shared his early golf with cricket and football, under the guidance of his grandfather.
However, his destiny was decided by a football injury when he was about 12 years old and his grandfather told him: `Right, that’s it. From now on it’s got to be golf.’
The old chap had clearly got a good eye and it soon became obvious that David had got real potential to make it in the game. He was sent down to the Fulwell club in Twickenham for weekend sessions with top coach Bill Cox who was helping a number of young players including pioneering Italian professional Baldovino Dassu with whom David became firm friends.
Top coach David Ridley helps Greg Owen fine tune his swing ready for another European Tour competition
That led to David being offered the job of assistant at Fulwell and at the age of 16, he left his north country home and headed for London.
His ambition in those exciting early days was clear – to make it on the professional circuit.
He quickly made his mark on the Middlesex scene, winning the assistants and professionals championships and then adding the South Wales PGA title in his first foray ‘abroad’.
Ambitious from the start, David had his first tilt at the Open Championship when he was only 17.
He took a two day holiday so no-one at his club would know and he entered the qualifying competition.
But the young upstart shocked everyone by getting through to the championship proper, a fact that was recorded in the local newspaper.
Two club members were impressed enough to sponsor young David for the big event and so he headed off to Royal Lytham and St Anne’s.
After nine holes of his first round in his first Open, his name was up on the leaderboard, having taken 34 shots to the turn.
He finished that opening round with a 78 and was not able to score well enough in the second round to beat the cut, but he had gained enough encouragement to believe that he could cut the mustard on the European tour.
For the next five years, he travelled the world with contemporaries like Craig Defoy, Peter Oosterhuis and John Garner.
In 1970, he finished 37th in the Order of Merit, while his best tournament result came in Ireland when he finished third behind New Zealander John Lister and Tommy Horton, now a highly successful figure on the seniors tour.
`At the age of 18, I made money quite quickly, it just happened for me,’ said David.
`But it got tougher and tougher to maintain the standard necessary and I began to realise just how hard I had got to work.’
It was a spell away from the constant demands of tournament golf that opened up a new direction for David’s career.
He was employed as a coach for cruise passengers on board a luxury liner in the Gulf of Mexico and it quickly became clear that David had an aptitude for getting his ideas across.
So, in 1974, he took on his first club professional’s job at the newly opened Oxton course, combining his duties there with Midlands tournaments and, occasionally qualifying for the Open championship.
On the Midlands scene, he established a reputation as the man to beat, taking a string of titles and topping the Order of Merit in 1985. He was twice selected for the Great Britain and Ireland team which contested the biennial club professionals’ version of the Ryder Cup, helping the home team to victory in 1979 at Castletown on the Isle of Man, when he scored two wins and a half. He followed that up by scoring two more wins when the competition was staged at Turnberry Island in Florida.
David had his last shot at the Open in 1984. It was his fifth appearance in the final rounds of the competition.
`I was sat in the locker room and looked up to see Seve, Tom Watson and Tom Kite all getting ready to go out.
`I thought to myself ‘what am I doing here?’
`I realised at that moment that it had become a world tournament, not something for club pros, and I haven’t entered since.’
By now, David was well established at Coxmoor and discovering the joys and satisfaction of coaching young and old.
`A club professional has to specialise -either in the retail side, as a club manager, or as a coach.’ he explained.
It is a job he takes very seriously.
`I love doing what I am doing. I still want to be the best.’
David Ridley checks the address of former Coxmoor assistant Matthew Buckley who is now pursuing a career on tour. Looking on is assistant Craig Wright
To achieve that he has travelled to America and studied the methods of Jimmy Ballard, the legendary coach who has helped the careers of people like Sandy Lyle, Curtis Strange and Jesper Parnevik.
David has also completed a sports psychology course to help him better understand the mental side of the game, and he has even teamed up with martial arts expert Ron Cuthbert to develop his knowledge and application of muscle movement.
He is especially involved with the young players from the East Midlands region and has been the English Golf Union’s regional coach for more than ten years.
He coaches young players for the Midlands Golf Union and Notts Union of Golf Clubs, helping the likes of Mark Foster, Liam White, Coxmoor’s Greg Owen and Lee Westwood to come through the junior ranks.
But he is quick to point out that you don’t have to be a single figure player to enlist his help.
`I like to take people from beginners to tournament players and make them swing the club better.
`Anyone, of any standard, can come to me and I will help them improve the physical and mental aspects of their game.’
Before we leave the ranks of the professional, a quick quiz question: which Coxmoor member has won the Open, the US Open, the Masters and been part of the winning Ryder Cup team?
Answer: Dave Musgrove, one of the top caddies in the world.
Dave, whose home is in Kirkby and still plays off 12 when he takes a break from his travels, began caddying at Hollinwell as a youngster. He carried on while working in the coal industry before deciding to become a full time caddie.
Since then, he has carried the bag for a who’s who of greats from his early days with Roberto di Vicenzo, to Seve Ballesteros – “lots of aggro and much money” – Sandy Lyle, Tom Watson, Scott Hoch and for the past few years, US Open champion Lee Janzen.
With one eye on the future, Dave and his wife Hilary have been developing a golf books business and he is always eager to hear from anyone who might have a volume or two.
In the long list of top quality players to emerge from the ranks of youngsters at Coxmoor, starting with Bill White and running through to today’s touring professional Greg Owen, one man probably stands above all others when it comes to records and achievements.
Ex-Coxmoor professional Bill White has no doubts. ‘He was the best player I ever taught,’ he said.
Jack Nicklaus described him as one of the greatest iron players he had ever faced.
And the records show he remains the most successful amateur golfer to be produced in Nottinghamshire.
From the moment he picked up a club for the first time, inspired by his father Lewis, it was clear young Alec Shepperson was destined for great things.
`My father suffered from asthma and he was advised to take up golf during the Second World War.
`He joined Coxmoor, and eventually, the whole family followed in his footsteps,’ said Alec.
Lewis Shepperson would become club captain in l950 and again in 1953 and Alec’s mother Nance also captained the ladies in 1953.
But it was young Alec who had the special talent.
`It is easy to look back and say I had natural ability, but what transpired was that I played often and practised whenever I could.’
Alec was guided by Bill White with such good effect that within the space of five months in 1950, his handicap dropped from 18 to 10 and within a year he was playing off 5.
Alec says fondly: ‘Bill was a tower of strength.
`He was always ready to help, advise and play.
`His favourite phrase was ‘Just pop it down the middle’.’
Alec remembers Coxmoor having a wonderful attitude towards its juniors. While Alec was the leading light, there were other wonderful young players around him including his brother John, Barry Wardman and keen rival Alan Crafts.
`Members like Len Townsend, George Rymell, Arthur Lineker and dozens more, all gave us terrific encouragement.
`I am sure that without them, and the committee’s willingness to let me play in all the senior club competitions, I would not have achieved all that I did.
‘Those members would always give the juniors a game -and it was always a tough game.’
If that was responsible for giving Alec a competitive instinct, it certainly stood him in good stead.
His achievements over the following 15 years include:
England Boys international 195153; British Boys runner-up (to Michael Bonallack), 1952; British Boys champion 1953; Notts county amateur and open champion, French junior champion 1955; England international 1956-62; Oxford and Cambridge Golf Society President’s Putter 1957; Walker Cup (with fellow Coxmoor member Alan Bussell) 1957; Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Open Stroke Play championship) runner-up, two more county titles, home internationals and GB v Rest of Europe 1958; Walker Cup team member 1959; Turnberry Trophy (including course record 65) 1960; county champion 1961; Brabazon Trophy runner-up, home internationals 1962; Notts Amateur champion 1965.
Looking back, Alec understandably regards his two appearances for the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team as the pinnacle of his career.
Along with fellow Coxmoor member, Scotsman Alan Bussell (now a member of the Chevin GC), Alec was called up for the biennial match against the best American amateurs, in 1957, when the match was played in Minneapolis.
The Americans won, as usual, but Alec, teamed with Guy Wolstenholme, scored a notable hal in the foursomes with American duo Mason Rudolph and Hillman Robins Jnr.
Alec did not play in the singles, but Bussell scored a wonderful 2&1 victory over J. Campbell. However he lost his foursomes match.
Even better was to follow in 1959, when the American team arrived at Muirfield, Alec’s favourite golf course.
The Americans included their new amateur champion, young, muscular blond haired sensation by the name of Jack Nicklaus.
Alec, partnered by Michael Lunt, was drawn to play the young prodigy and his partner, the splendidly named Ward Wettlaufer III.
With an east wind blowing across the exposed Scottish links, Alec and Michael Lunt looked on for a famous win until the closing holes of the 36-hole match when the Americans’ charge took them to a 2&1 victory.
It was while looking back on this match that Nicklaus was to remark on the quality of Alec’s iron play.
Alec was still waiting to chalk up his first Walker Cup win and, after taking 43 to cover the first nine holes of his singles match against future American tour pro Tommy Aaron, he was four down and odds on for another defeat.
But Alec then put together a remarkable sequence of scoring which, he recalls, went 4-3-4- 3 4 3 4 3 4. He won the match by 2&1 and had that precious point to add to his illustrious record.
As the Sixties dawned, Alec could reflect on a career in which he had achieved just about everything that he could in the amateur game, and as the responsibilities of adult life began to emerge, changes were inevitable.
Academically, he had a bright future as he graduated from Christ College, Oxford, to enter the legal profession.
Marriage and a family was another significant influence on his personal development: gradually golf began to take a back seat as more important considerations entered his life.
Looking back, he says: ‘Those ten years or more when I was playing at almost every opportunity were, in sporting terms, among the most wonderful of my life.’
But gradually, he came to accept that his days at the highest level of competition were over and golf became little more than a weekend hobby.
In fact, for two years in the early 1970s, he ceased playing altogether.
Nowadays, playing off four, he confines himself to friendly games.
To acknowledge his achievements, and especially those Walker Cup appearances, he was made an honorary member, along with Alan Bussell, and is currently the club president.
`I cherish the honour,’ he says. I regard it as an honour for my family. I am glad that my father was alive to see the day I became president.’
And then he added: ‘Coxmoor is a wonderful club – with a capital C.
`There are some that have better terrain, Hollinwell for instance, which I believe is the toughest test of golf within 50 miles, and that is why I played there.
`But in terms of friendliness and camaraderie, Coxmoor is the best.’
“Although Alec heads the club’s roll of honour, it is by no means a short list.
At international level, several players have carried the club’s name forward including Alec’s friend and rival Alan Crafts, who was an England player in 1950-51, and also won the Notts Amateur Matchplay championship in 1963 and 1965.
Bill White’s son Peter represented England boys in 1968, also winning the Notts Amateur Championship, Joanne Berry won international honours in 1988-90 and Oliver Wilson, the 1999 Notts Open champion has become the latest junior from the Coxmoor ranks to achieve international recognition.
Oliver also took the 1999 Midland Order of Merit with a record points score and is now on a golfing scholarship in the United States.
To add to Coxmoor’s recent glory, Martin Scothern finished third in that same order of merit, another unprecedented achievement for the club in a single season.
The club has racked up numerous other honours of significance, both individually and in team competitions.
Among the highlights have been Alan Crafts’ Midlands Boys Amateur Championship success in 1951 – a title later claimed by Simon Prescote, in 1987; Mark Betteridge winning the Notts Junior Matchplay title in 1984; Mark Scothern’s triumph in the Notts Amateur championship of 1985 and, in 1997, becoming Great Britain Club Champion of Champions.
He qualified by winning the 1997 Coxmoor club championship and then had to play seven rounds of singles matchplay against other club champions, at neutral courses around the country.
He came through to reach the final at the Forest of Arden where he faced five other players over 36 holes of stroke play. Martin won by five shots.
Tim Clark has claimed several open titles including the coveted Hollinwell Trophy and, with Martin Scothern, took the Midlands team strokeplay title in 1988. This formidable pairing were also Notts Foursomes champions in 1988, 1990 and 1995.
Springwater professional Phil Edwards, son of the former Notts County, Mansfield Town and Aston Villa footballer Dick Edwards, won the Notts Amateur title in 1990 while a member of Coxmoor.
Among the many outstanding lady players produced at Coxmoor, Eileen Lowe won the 1948 county ladies championship. In 1970-71, as Eileen Anderson, she was county captain and from 1983-85, county president.
She was followed into that prestigious position three years later by Pam Meadows.
Kathryn Horberry, another former county ladies captain, made her mark at the age of 14 when she matched her age to her handicap by shooting an 87 gross in the finals of the RNLI competition to take the title.
Kathyrn also remembers the day she played at Coxmoor in the consolation event of the English Ladies Matchplay – the main event was held at Hollinwell. It was a notable day for Kathryn as she recorded her first hole in one at the tenth.
In 1974, Kathryn took the NCLGA title at Coxmoor. Kathryn recalls: “I first played in the championship at Wollaton Park in 1967 and Dorothy Alberry caddied for me when she learned my family was not allowed to as I was still a junior. I beat Wendy McLuckie (Nichol) on the 23rd hole.”
The Coxmoor team 1998
During her illustrious career, Kathryn has been county ladies champion on no less than eight occasions, including a run of consecutive victories from 1974-77, and runner-up a further five times.
She also won the Central England Mixed Foursomes with Charles Banks of Stantonon-the-Wolds in 1974.
Paula Wooding was the Notts Girls champion in 1983 and 1985 and also the Four Counties girls champion in 1985.
Other fine ladies who have battled for Coxmoor include Jill Dudley, Jane Fowler and many more. Now there is a new crop of talented young ladies carrying Coxmoor forward.
In recent years, it has been the men’s fourball team in The Mail On Sunday Golf Club Classic which has captured the headlines. In 1997 the four man team reached the semi final of the Grand Final held in France.
Incredibly, the following year, a completely different fourball entered the competition – and got a step nearer the crown.
Consider this: in 1998 a record 2,902 men and women teams – a total of 17,500 players – entered what is the world’s biggest golf club tournament. For the same club to provide a grand finalists’ team two years in a row is a remarkable achievement.
Coxmoor’s 1998 team consisted of Trevor Ryan (4) Roy Hudson (5), Robert Oakden (2) and captain Jim Wright (3), with reserves Steve Matthews and David Bell.
The Coxmoor team battled through eight preliminary rounds to reach the UK final, at The Belfry, where they knocked out Irish champions Nuremore 3-1 to reach Grand Final at the San Roque club in southern Spain.
The Coxmoor four then beat North Wales GC in the semi-final, but lost 3-1 to Creigau GC (Cardiff) in the Grand Final.
Many other Coxmoor members had the potential, over the years, to add to the club’s achievements but, for one reason or another, were not able to fulfill their ambitions.
Alan Crafts says: “I am sure that had their jobs permitted more playing time to them and had golf been given more media coverage at that time, great success would have come their way.”
He mentions Len Butler, who still plays great golf despite breaking both wnists in the past; Mac Eley, a miner who played off two; Chic Hickling, mentioned by Bill White as one of the club’s eanly ‘big hitters’, who also worked in the mines and played scratch golf; Arthur Lineker, scratch golfer with a wonderful touch; Slamming Sam Taylor, another miner who only started to play at the age of 35-plus and achieved a handicap of two; Alf Carter, an Army sergeant major and a one handicap player; Ken Shaw, a terrific player who had the distinction of beating three Yorkshire county players in two days, a feat which the Yorkshire- men found understandably hard to swallow.
Alan Bussell, although not a local man, was the most tremendous golfer who represented Scotland and Britain in the Walker Cup, at the same time as Alec Shepperson. He won the British Youths title, Notts championship and many other competitions during his sparkling amateur career.
One other Coxmoor member who should not be omitted from the scroll of honour is Walter Woods, now a resident of St Andrew’s in Scotland.
Walter came to Coxmoor as a member from Stanton-on-the-Wolds where he was greenkeeper.
From Coxmoor he went to the world’s oldest and most famous golf course to become head greenkeeper at St Andrew’s from where he retired in 1998.
Finally, Coxmoor saw out the old Millennium in grand style with the following additions to its roll of honour: Oliver Wilson, Midland Onder of Merit winner, took the Beau Desert Stag, Notts Open, Northants County Cup and Trentham Punch Bowl along the way.
Martin Scothern: third in the Midland Order of Merit, winner of the Sherwood Forester, Wollaton Stag, Leicestershire Fox, City Classic and Shepperson Trophy.
Derek McJannet, Joint 11th Midland Order of Merit, winner of the Kedleston Goose.
Coxmoor also took the Inter Club Scratch League and were Midland County League champions.
There had, of course, been a ladies influence in the club from that very first meeting back in 1913.
But it was not until 15 years later that the first meeting of the ladies club was held with Miss W. Walton taking the honour of captain.
However, it should be noted that the captain’s board in the ladies lounge records A. Wright in 1925 as the first person to take on the role.
The officers chosen to lead the new section included Miss K. Martyn, secretary (a duty she would later share with Mrs S. J. W. Donald); Mrs R. V. Lees, treasurer; and a committee of Mrs D. Charlton, Mrs A. Gamble, Mrs S. J. W. Donald, Mrs H. S. Shacklock.
Ladies Captain’s Day 1963
The ladies were quickly into their stride, organising their monthly medals – and later arranging for a supply of special spoons to be provided by Mary’s Jewellers of Nottingham as the medal prize – plus a variety of other competitions including the Searson Rose Bowl, Mrs Nesbitt’s Cup and the Captain’s Prize.
The ladies also realised the need to start fund-raising as soon as possible, deciding to hold a tea dance in St Michael’s Hall with tickets costing two shillings and sixpence. And for that half a crown, you got tea included.
It is interesting to note that in those early years, the ladies section was small in numbers.
At the 1929 AGM, it was revealed that only 12 players had taken part in the Spring meeting, only 11 competed for the Searson Rose Bowl and only 9 – due to holidays – battling for the Captain’s Prize.
Come the autumn meeting however, a record number of 20 players took part. It was also noted that Miss Farnsworth recorded a hole in one, winning a tea set in the process.
The following years were busy ones for the ladies, on and off the course. New competitions were introduced and county success was registered – in 1934, the ladies team did not lose a single match.
Ladies Invitation Day 1964
In 1936, thanks to their diligence in the work of fund-raising, the ladies were able to provide the club with a flagpole, flag and a mowing machine.
Two years later, the ladies pledged money to provide a deserved retirement present for Miss Farnsworth, the result being a handsome silver cake stand.
And they put the war years to good use. Although very few competitions were held, Mrs Gregory, the captain during 1943-45 suggested that a competition should be run in aid of prisoners of war, resulting in the tidy sum of £175 being raised.
A bring and buy sale held in Sutton Church Hall realised another £.65.10s.
That cash was supplemented by parcels which were sent to five lads in hospital.
Postal orders were sent to four soldiers in the Middle East and then a cheque for £150 was presented to the British Red Cross for the Prisoners of War Fund.
Not surprisingly, at the annual general meeting of 1946, a vote of thanks to the committee, and ex-captain Mrs Gregory, was recorded, for their efforts in keeping the club going during those difficult war years.
As the day dawned for the club to move into new premises, at the beginning of the 1960s, it is interesting to note discussions about furniture which are recorded in the ladies minutes.
An honour for Coxmoor – the 1979 English U-23 ladies championship is hosted. Pictured are officials of the English Ladies Golf Association together with Jack Barnett and extreme right, Mrs Dorothea White
One entry reveals an agreement to buy five card tables and “perhaps four easy chairs, six small tables” from Barnes the Furnishers in Sutton – at a cost of £1.16s. The minutes also add: “These were thought to be more essential than a new carpet.”
The secretary also made a note, in 1964’s annual report, that the lady captain had been allocated a designated space in the car park.
Just a few years later, in 1966, at the behest of the ladies committee, the club agreed to honour Mrs A. Godley and Mrs N. Barke with life membership to mark their years of loyal and diligent service.
It was in this same year that Bill White’s wife Dorothea won the Lifeboat Trophy for the first time for Coxmoor and Mrs Green won the County Veterans Cup, another first for the club.
In 1968, Miss Severn announced her retirement after 27 years as secretary and she was rewarded with the presentation of an engraved silver cigarette box. She would be made an honorary member in 1969.
Captain’s Day 1956 – Len Packer and Dorothy Alberry were the people in charge