History of the Club
History of the Club

Ghyll Golf Club - History

Mr Ken Wilkinson wrote a book on the history of the club to celebrate the centenary in 2007. He describes how teeing off at Ghyll officially began in 1908 but the club's beginnings can be traced back to October 1907.

On the 11th, a group of 11 men including a physician, a schoolmaster and several cotton manufacturers, met at Mrs Hudson's Café, in Earby.

They planned to form a nine-hole golf club, which would have a five shilling entrance fee and an annual subscription of one and a half guineas for gentleman and one guinea for ladies.
They acquired land belonging to Thornton Hall Farm and paid the owners an annual rent of £25.

A professional golfer from St Anne's advised on the layout of the nine-hole course and in May 1908, with a groundsman, a professional and caddies already appointed, president Joseph Carr opened the white-painted pavilion and drove the first ball.

Between the World Wars, membership dropped to fewer than 50 male members and for a number of years the club struggled without groundsmen for some years when it fell on members to keep the corse mown.

Of the original nine-hole 70-acre course at Ghyll, only the "Hill Top", "The Mast", and "Ingleborough" holes would be recognisable today.

This is because the club's landlord imposed a large hike in rents in 1953 and club members were forced to set up their own fund and buy 40 acres, losing three holes and 40 per cent of the club's land.

During this time, sheep grazed on the course although this practice was eventually stopped.

But by April 1955, three new holes had been added to form what is now the "York" course.

In 1964, there were very few trees on the course and these were mostly on the boundaries. In 1966, the course was altered by planting a coppice of trees behind the Monks Retreat (7th hole) green, behind St Mary Le Ghyll (5th) green and Mast (8th) green. A row of trees were established between St Mary Le Ghyll (5th) and Pinhaw (6th) fairways and between Monks Retreat (7th) and Pinhaw (6th) fairways. Prior to the 1960’s there were no bunkers on the course and these were added from 1966 around the course.

In 1962, 5 acres of land was bequeathed to the Club by the widow of Charles Aldersley but the cost of draining this land was prohibitive so it was rented as pasture until 1991.
Further improvements were made to the course in the1970’s with a further significant tree planting undertaken in the1980’s.

In 1991, with a waiting list for men and ladies, an 18 hole committee considered purchasing land for an additional 9 holes. The cost would have been in the region of £100,000 for the land and £120,000 for construction of 9 holes. This was not approved at an EGM and the plan was abandoned.

Following the abandonment of the 18 hole course, attention returned to the land that had been bequeathed and course was changed so that it crossed into Lancashire with the addition of two further holes to provide the Tudor Corse that is most commonly used today.

Over the years the club house has been extended and refurbished to give us the club house that we use today.

Aside from the club's history, the centenary book also features light-hearted anecdotes and press cuttings - one of which refers to the controversial subject of playing golf on a Sunday in 1930.

A certain "worker from Earby" wrote to the Craven Herald: "As to those who would play golf on the Sabbath, it is rather a pity that they have not to work hard enough during the week.

"I have seen them here, starting off in their cars with golf sticks, when we are going to our daily toil. If they had more work through the week, they would be glad to rest on Sunday or spend it in worship in God's house."

Ghyll is situated on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border close to the town of Barnoldswick, which was part of the West Riding until local government reorganisation in 1972.
Indeed, the picturesque course takes its name from the narrow wooded ravine which was formed by the stream which is now the border between the land of the White Rose and their Red Rose adversaries. Many a battle has been fought out over the fairways and greens of the course.