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A Brief History of Gosforth Golf Club

The Club was established in 1906 as a 9-hole course on land leased from Laycock Estates. The venture was a great success and after two years the course was extended to 18 holes. The course was extended and remodelled in 1924, since when the layout has changed little but the course has been transformed through the addition of trees and improvements to all parts of the course.

For the first 40-50 years the grass on the course was kept under control by grazing sheep with the greens being fenced off and mown using hand pushed cutters. The grazing rights were let by the Club each year and provided a valuable source of additional income. This practice continued until after the Second World War. Nowadays the Club has an extensive fleet of modern equipment to facilitate course maintenance to a high standard.

In 1906, a wooden “house” which was purchased from the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company and transferred from Matfen to Gosforth where it was erected as the first clubhouse. The current clubhouse was built in 1913. On Tuesday 8th July 1913, shortly after the new clubhouse was completed, a policeman on his rounds found a bomb, with its fuse burnt out, near the clubhouse. There was no message with the bomb but it was assumed to have been planted by the suffragette movement, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WPSU), in support of Miss Sylvia Pankhurst who was sentenced on the previous day to three months in jail for inciting suffragettes to bomb Lloyd George’s home in Surrey. It is ironic that the Suffragettes should try to bomb the new clubhouse since the Club had welcomed lady members from its formation in 1906.

Lady members have always been an integral part of Gosforth Golf Club which is illustrated by the fact that when the Club opened in March 1906 there were 50 lady members out of a total membership of 150. The welcome offered to lady members in the early 1900’s set the Club apart from many other clubs at that time and this has continued through to the present day with the Club being one of the few in the region where the ladies have equal rights to the men. The Ladies’ Section of the Club was formed shortly after the Club was established.

At the time of the outbreak of World War 1 the Club was thriving. The membership was full and the takings in the clubhouse were at record levels. This situation was to change rapidly. During the War, play was restricted to the home field, the rest of the course being used by the military and for agricultural purposes under the auspices of the local War Agricultural Committee. The fields to the east of the Bridlepath were either put to hay or were used for grazing sheep and cattle.

WW1 had a severe effect on the finances of the Club. Many of the members were called upon to serve their country and those that remained had little money to spend at the Club. Many members suspended their membership with effect from 1st January 1915, whilst away on active service. Bar and catering revenue dropped dramatically. War tax was added to costs in the Club but the Committee decided not to raise the prices of ale, stout etc., to cover the tax increase.

During the Second World War part of the course was once again requisitioned and put to agricultural use. An anti-aircraft gun emplacement was established on the course to the east of the Bridlepath. It was not unusual for German aircraft to drop bombs on Tyneside on their way home following a raid on the shipyards on the Clyde and one night the Luftwaffe tried to re-model the start of the 14th fairway by dropping a bomb on the course.

In 1994 Laycock Estates generously offered the Club a 999 year lease which was gratefully accepted and funds were raised to purchase the new lease. The new lease was signed at a ceremony held at the Club on 21st July 1994.