Early Times At Lodge Hill

Minutes of the Shropshire Golf Union reveal Shifnal Golf Club as a member in 1913 the year the union was formed. Unfortunately there are no official club records from this period to substantiate this, and thus the earliest real evidence of Shifnal Golf Club is of a meeting on 8th April 1929 held at the Jerningham Arms, Shifnal.

If players come off the 14th green of the present course, pause and look due south, there can be seen at a distance of 2 miles a spur of land with a copse of trees at one end, this is Lodge Hill, where seven winds are said to meet, the land was of little use for anything else but a golf course, even the sheep had a hard time of it! However, it was all that was available, and the only thing to do was to make the best of it.

The course consisted of a rented 9 holes on and around Lodge Hill; the Clubhouse facilities comprised of a room in a private house known as Sunnyside and situated adjoining the south west corner of the course.

Various course alterations were completed by 1936 including adding bunkers and the re-routing of holes to relive course congestion. The course was extended to 18 holes at a very inopportune time as World War 2 started a month later. In 1941 an order by the War Agricultural Executive Committee dictated that 7 of the 9 new holes required ploughing up for food production and never reinstated.

Post war facilities at the Club were basic, electric light was installed to the gents changing rooms but a water heater at a cost of £25 was deemed too expensive!

In August 1956 the Club purchased the Clubhouse and land that included the 1st and final hole financed by loans from the members. The Club thus became owner of this small part of the course and rented the holes around Lodge Hill from the landowner on an annual tenancy.

In 1963 negotiations to purchase or grant of a renewed lease there continued to prove unsuccessful, and it was clear that the Club would have to relocate.

Decker Hill

The beautiful Georgian Country House and adjacent land at Decker Hill came on the market. This also coincided with the rapid increase in the popularity of golf and members expectations for better social and golfing facilities than the present site could have provided.

The grand sum of £25,500 was agreed to purchase the house and 113 acres of land. The purchase was financed by members loans together with the proceeds from the sale of the old clubhouse and adjoining land.

By December 1963 the layout of the new course designed by Mr J.J.F Pennick of golf architects T.C Cotton and Partners was approved. The construction of tees and greens was contracted out, and the remainder of the work including water pipes, making fairways and tree planting was carried out by willing members without charge. At times there were as many as 5 tractors ploughing the course with no cost to the members!

Play on the full 18 holes at Decker Hill became possible in late 1966....a triumph for the many who helped make the venue change possible with their enthusiasm, foresight and limited funds.

Unfortunately, over the following years the greens caused considerable problems. Tight finance had meant that they were not constructed to modern standards, thus in 1981 following several unsuccessful attempted remedies, the Club took the advice of leading agronomist Martyn Jones. He concluded that the only real solution was to reconstruct all 18 greens to new improved specifications and work commenced following the AGM in January 1982.

Again, finance dictated how the work could be done and as contractors prices would have been impossible to fund, very courageously the Club took the decision to use its own greens staff, and an ambitious programme was worked out to construct 6 greens a year. Ultimately, due to weather conditions and various other factors, work was not deemed fully completed until the Spring of 1989. This was marked by a splendid reception at the Club, involving the Mayor of Shifnal, the Committee and Members, followed by an exhibition golf match which included Peter Baker, then a promising PGA Tour Professional, who marked the prestigious event with a course record 64!

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31.03.2023 06:24
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