History / Club 1890

Club history

Established in 1890, Woodford Golf Club is the second oldest in the Essex Golf Union. Our nine-hole course in Epping Forest was designed by Tom Dunn, who went on to be the architect of the Open Championship course at Royal Cinque Ports, Deal, Kent. In 1890, Golf Illustrated quoted Scotsman Dunn as expecting the Woodford course to "rank among the best around London". And Golf World rated five of his course designs among the top 10 in Britain. Dunn, who was both a professional golfer and a club-maker as well as a course designer - like most of his Scottish compatriots of the time - laid our more golf courses in England than any other designer. Among them were the first nine at Lindrick, Notts., and the course for another "red-top" club, London Scottish on Wimbledon Common. Tom also taught the rudiments of golf to two Prime Ministers: W.E. Gladstone (1809-98) and A.J. Balfour (1848-1930).

The 50 original members of the Woodford club paid one guinea (£1.05) for their entrance fee and annual membership. A ladies' section was established in 1892. The members at the time were professional folk - the likes of lawyers, bankers and doctors - who objected to playing golf with their grocer, baker or candlestick maker. So a different class (second class) of membership, the artisan section, was created for the tradesmen, who had to perform tasks on the course, especially when the greenkeepers were away, for cheaper green fees and restrictions on when they could play. Of course, artisans were barred from the clubhouse, small though it was. Among those admitted as artisans was Fred Mumford, a postal worker, who joined the club in 1936 and was a member for 69 years until his death, aged 95, in November 2005. After the Second World War, the club had the foresight to scrap its artisans section and all the artisans became 5-day members. Fred went on to be awarded life membership in 2003.

The club survived World War One reasonably well but not War Ministry depredations in World War Two. Fearing landings by German gliders, the ministry had anti-gliding trenches, each 20ft wide and 4ft deep, carved across the 1st, 6th and 8th fairways, and down the side of the 2nd. These trenches were not filled in until 1947. After that, the club set about re-establishing itself.

It celebrated its centenary in 1990 and since then has rebuilt the clubhouse on Sunset Avenue in 1997 to provide members and visiting golfers with modern changing rooms complete with shower facilities, together with a pleasant bar and dining area.

In 2015, the club celebrated its 125th anniversary with a large number of special events, culminating in a black-tie dinner at the RAC Club, London.

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