The people behind the history

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History And Development of Creigiau Golf Club

HISTORY & DEVELOPMENT OF CREIGIAU GOLF CLUB -
[A BRIEF OVERVIEW]
Creigiau Golf Club was established just after the First World War and will be celebrating its Centenary Year in 2021. As part of the Centenary celebrations, a book is to be published at the end of 2021 that will describe the historical context and establishment of the golf club as well as its continued development since 1921. The Centenary Book will feature the club, the course and some important characters as well as describing in detail the pivotal moments in the club’s history.

The Club was originally established in 1921 by local enthusiasts and a group of Cardiff business and professional men when Creigiau was a very small country village.
The history of Creigiau Golf Club presents a complex and fascinating story. It is a club that, from its early days, was recognised as being a very welcoming and friendly club and had, at its heart, a positive ethos. The members then, as now, enjoyed a strong sense of belonging based on a common purpose because of their love of the game of golf. They also appreciated the warm camaraderie associated with being a member of the Club and were able to develop and sustain lifelong friendships.

The evolution of the club has been built on a core number of tenets. In particular, a common theme running throughout the history of the club is the considerable amount of self-determination and the outstanding commitment of key individuals to the well being and continued development of Creigiau Golf Club and the associated golf course. This commitment has been described accurately as a: ‘triumph of will, astute planning, financial acumen and physical effort’.

The early pioneers of Creigiau Golf Club obviously worked together with a shared vision, combined with the necessary drive and energy to convert what was essentially land that had been devoted to farming into an area suitable for playing the game of golf.

Creigiau golf course is indeed blessed by its location and topography as well as enjoying panoramic and pleasant vistas on the higher parts of the course which include views over Llantrisant, the Vale of Glamorgan and the Garth Mountain. However, when faced with the prospect of converting farmland into a golf course with very limited equipment, other than basic hand tools and none of the technology enjoyed by present day golf architects and designers, one is left awestruck by the trials and tribulations that must have beset the founding members. A very special thank is owed to those individuals who have made a considerable personal investment in the development and well being of the course and the associated clubhouse.

The first president of Creigiau Golf Club was Colonel Mervyn E.G.R Wingfield of Great Barrington, Oxon (President from 1921 to 1951) and on whose land the first nine-hole course was established with a 50-year licence to lease land.
All the land of the original golf course belonged to the Wingfield Estate and, in turn, part of the Castell y Mynach Farm land. The adjacent farms being: Maesmawr, Caerfawr, and Llwyn y Brain Fawr and Fach.

The first Captain of the club was Mr. F.E. Aitken a Pontypridd quarry owner and the future father-in-law of the highly respected village doctor Dr. Gladys Aitken. Mr. Aitken was the Club Captain during the foundation year and in 1922.

The original course at Creigiau had a unique charm with its delightful character owing much to the topography of the area and ‘luck of the land’ as it does to any careful human design. This is mainly due to the fact that it is situated between the lowlands to the south and the higher ground that exists to the north.

The original course, which will be described in some detail in the Centenary Book, presented a very pleasant perspective with small greens and some very challenging sections including a copse-lined fairway as well as a demanding ‘dog-leg’ eighth hole.
Some prominent figures in the golfing world graced the course and were reputed to have spoken highly of the course and the challenge that it presented. For example, three of the club’s early professionals won National Championships: Bob Kenyon the Irish Open in 1931 and 1933; Charlie Picket the Welsh Open in 1934; whilst Frank Hill was the Welsh Champion in 1935 and 1937.

The first clubhouse was a very basic Nissen-type structure, which graced a modestly sized piece of ground beneath a few trees near ‘The Number One’ (i.e. the first green, site unchanged). However, despite this and the restrictions of a nine-hole course, many active golfers were attracted to Creigiau from the surrounding area.
This original ‘hut’ stood unchallenged until the night of a storm, which ended its brief existence. The storm spread the component parts ‘far and wide’ together with the clubs, jackets, shoes, and sundry other paraphernalia which had been confidently entrusted to its iron-clad protection.
The first ‘real’ clubhouse was built in the mid 1930s and was destined to serve the club admirably for more than sixty years until the current clubhouse was built in the early 1990s.

During the dark days of World War II, Creigiau Golf Club was also required to make its own contribution to the war effort when part of the course had to be given up to agriculture to support the ‘Dig for Victory’ initiative. The Club was not unique in this matter because it was a very common outcome for many golf courses across England and Wales. In fact, several farms around the Creigiau area had young ladies from the Women’s Land Army as part of their workforce during the Second World War.
The area that was lost was actually a field that only four years earlier had become the third hole. This area was put to the plough and so shortly after the war’s end, oats etc., flourished where once had been a fairly testing little dogleg of a par four. Suffice to say that this wartime interruption guaranteed some truly alarming fairway lies for some considerable time after the ‘reclamation’.
The first important development following the end of the war in Europe was to formalise the legal status of Creigiau Golf Club. In accordance with the regulations that pertained at the time, the Club became incorporated under the Companies Act, 1929 and became a company limited by guarantee on the 25th May 1945. This important step gave Creigiau Golf Club a formal and legal status at long last.

As previously acknowledged, Creigiau Golf Club is a club which, from its very early days, was recognised as being a very welcoming and friendly club and had, at its heart, a genuine commitment to social interaction and the warmth of its friendliness. The members then, as now, enjoyed a strong sense of belonging based on a common purpose and a fellowship with lifelong friendships established. Consequently, the social life of the club has been a cornerstone of its raison d’être and its continued development and well-being.
During the early part of the 1970’s, Creigiau Golf Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Although reaching its 50th year was clearly a time for celebration, it also heralded a challenging period of uncertainty for the Club, with its very existence threatened. Significantly, this uncertainty actually resulted in a number of key members leaving the Club to join other neighbouring golf clubs.

The main reason for this uncertainty was the fact that the Club’s 50 year licence to lease the land, originally agreed with the Wingfield Estate in the early 1920s, was due to terminate in 1975 and this deadline loomed ominously. In fact, despite the club continuing to pay the lease charges, the Wingfield Estate did not collect the monies it was due, and, therefore, the uncertainty remained about the future of the Club for a number of years.

The Club, led by successive Club Captains in that era, along with the support of key individual members including Eric Holt and Wally Hazlehurst, former Club secretary-managers, responded magnificently. For example, at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held in 1974, the membership agreed to pay a levy of £60.00 for Gentleman and £40.00 for Lady members. It is also relevant to point out that at that stage, the only assets the club owned was ‘Rose Cottage’, the old steward’s house, which at the time, was in a pretty dilapidated state.

With invaluable and timely support from the Local Borough Council and the Sports Council for Wales, as well as additional contributions from the membership, the Club was able to negotiate an additional 57 acres in 1979. It must be recorded that this new area of land was, for the most part, in a very poor condition with much drainage work needed.

It is important to emphasize that the financial support received from the local authority did come with specific conditions. The first condition being that two members of the Taff Ely Borough Council should be allowed to sit on the Club’s management committee and that the Club’s professional should provide golf coaching sessions to local schools in the Taff Ely area. Although these conditions generated a certain amount of resentment at the club, nevertheless, they were agreed with Taff Ely Borough Council, which resulted in the Club receiving a grant of £14,000 to assist the Club to purchase the land. The Sports Council for Wales provided a further grant of £17,000.

Unfortunately, the additional acreage acquired in 1979 was not wholly derived from the old course. In fact, some sensitive negotiations and ‘horse-trading’ of Club land with the landowner was necessary and holes that had existed on the original course had to be sacrificed including, the old 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and parts of the 7th. These holes existed on the land that is now adjacent to the current 3rd and 4th holes i.e. on the land to the south and west of the course. The landlord justified his need to take back land associated with the original course in order to transfer this back to a local farmer, Mr. Swinton Morgan, to ensure the continued viability of the farm having sold some of the farmland for housing.
The club redeveloped further its new land and with careful planning resulted in a new 14 hole course being opened in the summer of 1984. Again, the club took the opportunity to celebrate this important development by organizing a special golf competition with the honour of opening the new 14 hole golf course going to the then Captain Mr. Howard Evans.

The acquisition of land for the new holes gave further impetus to secure an additional 22 acres to the north of the course i.e. the current 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th. This additional land was actually purchased in 1985 with the overall design and construction of the additional holes, combined with some alterations to the original holes, being led by the Club’s Greens’ Committee. The Chairman of the Greens Committee at that time was Mr. Lyn Forse (Captain, 1979). Lyn Forse also played a major role in project managing the extension of the course to 18 holes as well as being very active in contributing to its overall construction which included a lot of hard labour digging ditches and preparing the land. Cyril Baker (Captain, 1985) also gave a considerable amount of his time and energy as well as ‘hands on’ assistance in progressing the construction of the additional four holes.

Additional land was also secured to the south of the 2nd hole across to the current 3rd green and 4th tee with some funding to assist the club being provided by Mr. Syd Freeman a former member of the club.
The new 18-hole course was officially opened in July 1986. The honour to open Creigiau’s new 18-hole course fell to the Captain, Mr. David Scard
Concluding Remarks:
To conclude this brief overview it is pertinent to acknowledge that it is simply not feasible to summarise the history and development of a complex organisation such as Creigiau Golf Club. However, the Centenary Book will cover many pivotal moments and important developments of the club including:
• The development of the course from its original 9 holes to its transfer to a modified 9 hole course on land purchased by the club to its final 18 hole configuration and its continued development and maintenance.
• The construction of a new clubhouse in the early 1990s
• The outstanding successes achieved by Creigiau-based golfers
• The rich and rewarding social life of a very dynamic club and the ever-changing demands and needs of club members.
• The important contribution made to the local community by the club.
• The significant contribution of key members who have represented the club at local, county and national level.
• The complex and diverse demands associated with the management and administration of a dynamic golf club and the impact of a changing external environment and a shift in the cultural paradigm of the cub’s membership.

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20.10.2021 07:41
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Next inspection at 7.30 Thursday morning