Allotments on the left during war time Dig for Glory - note the lack of trees!
The decision to form a golf club was taken on the 3rd October 1922 at the Cherry Tree Restaurant and Welwyn Garden City Golf Club was then founded in early 1923. A group of residents who lived in Welwyn Garden City new town were largely responsible for the formation of the club, namely: Mr D Leitch, Mr S Ogilvie, Mr J Wadland and Dr R L Reiss (the first Captain and only President of the club).
They approached the New Town Agricultural Guild and obtained a sub-letting of a field for £25.00 per annum. The Guild incidentally was so glad to sub-let the field that they even agreed to put fairways in for £40.00! Hence, the first 9-hole course of 2440 yards (known as the ‘old nine’) was designed and played twice round. It had easy access to the Waggoners Public House via a wicket gate by the 3rd and 7th greens, which proved extremely popular with the members.
In 1927 the course was extended to 16 holes but it was felt 16 holes was inappropriate, so with some ingenuity, two more holes were contrived making 18 holes in all, leading the players naturally to the clubhouse (the 19th hole).
It may be interesting to note how times have changed since the early 1920’s at Welwyn Garden City Golf Club when golfers would play armed with a few irons, a niblick and a scythe. You may wonder what the scythe was used for? A local rule had been introduced which stated that when a ball was believed to lie on the fairway, the grass around the ball was permitted to be scythed until it came into sight! There was also a maximum allowance of 12 golf balls per player and the game was deemed to have been finished when all 12 had been lost. (What would the Royal & Ancient would have made of those local rules?).
It is also interesting to note that lady members of Welwyn Garden City Golf Club originally joined on exactly the same terms as male members, there being no difference in the enjoyment of club privileges and playing in all common competitions. Originally, the provisional committee elected on 3rd October 1922 “to consider the question of a golf course and to prepare a draft constitution” comprised six men and five ladies. The club committee also awarded handicaps to ladies as well as to the men and competitions were open to everyone who wished to play.
Sir Nick Faldo has long been associated with Welwyn Garden City Golf Club and a special board greets members and visitors on entering the clubhouse, detailing the numerous titles he has held during his career.
Since the original clubhouse was opened in 1928 by the Captain, R L Reiss, there have been a number of changes and refurbishments. The clubhouse was most recently replaced in 1981, and was officially opened on 12 June 1982 by the President of the Hertfordshire Golf Union, Mr William Fernie. Since 1982 a new extension of the Men’s Changing Room, Pro shop and link-way to the clubhouse has been completed and was officially opened by Mr Clive Harkett, President of the Hertfordshire Golf Union on 7th March 1988.
The locker rooms were refurbished in 2009, giving a fantastic new look and refreshingly air conditioned changing facilities for both men and ladies.