The History of Mitcham Golf Club

Golf on the Common dates back to the early 1890s when the Board of Conservators charged with looking after Mitcham Common agreed to let an 18-course be constructed - provided it did not enclose the land and deprive the borough residents from exercising their "common rights" to walk or exercise.

The Princes Golf Club was formed in November 1891 and Lord Arthur Balfour, who was to go on to become British Prime Minister nine years later, was elected the first president.

The link to the House of Commons was a strong one with many parliamentary members of the aristocracy escaping the pressures of Westminster with a seven-mile train journey to the common and a relaxing round of golf.

Indeed after one or two legal wrangles, Princes was purchased by Mitcham Court MP Harry Mallaby-Deeley for £8,000, and it became an exclusive club in the pre-war era for City gentlemen, provoking resentment from the local residents who felt their common was being taken away from them.

As the social climate changed Mitcham Village Golf Club was created, in 1907, to allow locals access through 10-shilling permits, saw Prince's exclusivity wane, and Sir Harry handed the club back to the Conservators in 1924 - two years after being knighted - with 7 years remaining on the lease. In doing so he established Mitcham Golf Club and nominated three trustees to run the course and care for the golfers' part of the common. After Sir Mallaby-Deeley's death in February 1937 the number of Trustees increased to four - and carried on that tradition syill today.

Ironically, the proximity of the Victoria line and the Croydon tram service still allows golfers to escape from central London to this honourable oasis with their clubs carried courtesy of Thameslink Trains.

The legendary Tom Morris, who won four Opens, approved the Common as being suitable for golf and Tooting Bec pro Tom Dunn laid out the original course measuring 6,325 yards on land straddling the Croydon Road. It cost thousands of pounds with swamps having to be drained and filled in, with tons of soil shifted to fill in the unregulated gravel workings which had dominated the land before.

Ironically, the latter gave rise to the legend of Mitcham's greens with the land's gravel base helping drainage. The greens were never laid to modern USGA standards - and in fact were constructed to hold water during the dry summer months. But despite the winter weather of recent years, the putting surfaces have survived the onslaught of three very wet seasons in remarkably good shape.

They are a testament to the Head Green keeper and his staff who have worked tirelessly on creating new drainage ditches across the course to feed the seasonal ponds that dot it.

Today the course has lost the land "over the road" and the Princes Ladies club - which was founded on land south of Mitcham Junction in 1894. Sadly the clubhouse from the Royal Navy Exhibition at Chelsea built on land leased from the railway company around that period - and which offered an upper deck view from the lounge and restaurant over the common - burned down in 1933, and was replaced by a more up to date one, which still stands today!

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15.12.2019 07:48
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