Our History

Extracts from ‘100 years of Golf at Flempton’ by Peter Nunn, ‘Flempton Golf Club est 1895’ by Omar James-Johnson and The MacKenzie Ebert Historical Assessment and Masterplan for the Course (M&E),

Flempton has a rich and interesting history. From humble beginnings, Flempton has, with the help of a design by J.H. Taylor (5-time Open Champion and prolific designer of courses), become one of the best courses in the area.

McKenzie & Ebert Course Architects 

The popular 7th Green at Flempton Golf Club.

The Legendary six-time Open Championship winner, Harry Vardon (Inventor of the Vardon Grip) tees off at Flempton in an exhibition match.

Legend has it “that Scottish Officers from the Depot Barracks being homesick and looking for somewhere to hit a golf ball had chanced upon Flempton as the ideal spot to enjoy a few hours of leisure.”

Omar James-Johnson, Member


“No fewer than 9 clergymen were listed among the founder members which included local businessmen, professionals and ladies (12) from the surrounding towns and villages. In 1895 the subscriptions were recorded as being one shilling per month. The original course, on land belonging to the Hengrave Estate, of 2070 yards was extended by incorporating a further 12 acres in 1906 and at the same time completely redesigned by John H. Taylor. Taylor’s accuracy was legendary, and some would suggest this accuracy is reflected in the siting and size of  Flempton’s challenging greens.”

Peter Nunn, Former President

The members became the owners of the course purchasing the land from Hengrave Estates Ltd in 1953. The course essentially remained the same until major earthworks created the pond (2nd) and lake (6th) in 1992. The Timeline of FGC table shows events and changes in greater detail. Club ownership helps maintain the unique atmosphere of the club providing challenging golf played in good spirit.

Harry Vardon pictured with members after his exhibition match.

The History of Flempton Golf Club



Flempton & Bury St Edmunds Golf Club plays on land that is part of the 350 acre Hall Farm on the Hengrave Estate. The course is located on a 34-acre plot to the left of the present drive. 

1895 George Arbon is engaged to look after the course at a weekly wage of 4 shillings.

Old Railway carriage is donated to the clubhouse for use as a clubhouse. Subscriptions 21 shillings for the gentlemen, 12 shillings for the ladies. 

Score card with a diagonal length of 6” used for implementing rule 20

1897 The Estate is purchased by Mr John Wood who went on to become the Club’s first President in around 1904.
1905 Mr Wood builds and furnishes a new clubhouse (now lounge and dining room).

The cottage is built using home grown timber and salmon-red bricks made at the brickyard on Culford Estate.

The course is extended by 12 acres to the right of the driveway into the club.


John Henry Taylor is invited to design a new layout for nine holes covering the whole 45 acre site. J. H. Taylor won the Open championship five times and was a co-founder and first chairman of the British PGA. Taylor’s plan, which remains essentially the layout of the course today, was that three holes should be created on the 12-acre plot and that the area where nine had previously existed should be rearranged to provide six.


Taylor Mounding: There are examples of old fashioned, intricate low mounding around the course such as those at the 2nd hole. These may have been added by J. H. Taylor as there are examples of similar mounding at Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club where he was a professional for almost 50 years and where such features are called ‘Taylor Mounding’. In the FGC Committee minutes for 1905 Sir John Wood, the President, was thanked for agreeing to pay J. H. Taylor’s fee and expenses. 

 1910 A new stable block is built where member’s horses could be fed and watered while their owners played the course (now machinery shed). The horse that pulled the mower was also stabled here.
1913 Flempton opened for play Sunday afternoon without caddies; ‘to employ them on the Sabbath would obviously not do’.
1914 War took its toll on the Club financially.
1915 Officers quartered in Bury St Edmunds and the surround invited to play without introduction

James Arbon becomes Pro, head greenkeeper and steward and moves into The Cottage with his sister Maud who helps him provide lunch and teas. 

1922 Exhibition match at Flempton with Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. Piped water to certain strategic points on the course.
1924 Construction of a clubhouse extension includes the lounge bar, gentlemen’s toilets and changing facilities, the Pro’s workshop and Ladies room.
1925 Changes to the course including the peninsula now carrying the eighth tee.
1926 Name change to Flempton Golf Club.
1929 Skeleton found in a bunker near the 3rd green by Neville Arbon and Ted Spalding.
1931 The first ‘tractor’, a modified motor car, is bought at the cost of £138 5s.

The Golf Union called for a revision of the par of all courses to take into account the increased distances golf balls were being hit. Flempton came into Group 2 with an average run of 10 -15 yards on the level; some courses were Group 6 with a difficult-to believe average run of some 40-70 yards.

Par for Group 2: Upto 210 yards – par 3, 211 – 400 yards – par 4, Over 400 yards – par 5.

These lengths could be adjusted, plus or minus, when the drive or brassie shot pitched on a slope (2nd & 6th hole).

1934 RAF Mildenhall officers invited to join without paying a joining fee.

A new tee is created for the 9th hole, beside the 8th green, which is now the gentlemen’s yellow tee. 

1936 The first block subscription to Culford School.
1951 Colonel H.E. Hambro elected President. Hambro played a significant part as Flempton’s representative in the formation of the Suffolk Golf Union in the late twenties, presenting it with the Hambro Cup, which Flempton won in 1934.
1953 Flempton Club is bought by its members for £4k.
1954 Planting of Norway spruce, Scotch pine and Douglas firs totalling 4125 by members and friends
1956 The first group membership for USAF base at Lakenheath Group.
1963 First kitchen extension and bar improvement.
1971 Roy Alderton employed as green keeper.
1973-4 Automatic watering system installed.
1977 4 sisters from Flempton GC play in the County matches.
1985 Complete refurbishment with second kitchen extension, ladies room extension and toilet facilities.

Atlas Aggregates, the Club’s neighbours, give the Club more land behind the 8th tee. They also gave 750 tonnes of soil to enable the club to build up and extend the men’s competition tees on the 3rd & 8th holes.

Hawtree & Son engaged to advise the Club on the new tee positions. The golf architectural practice and construction company, originally called Hawtree and J.H. Taylor (the name was subsequently changed to Hawtree and Son in the 1950s).

1990 Dining room extends by enclosing verandah.
1991 The ladies win both the Haskell and Stearn county trophies, winning the Haskell again in 1995.
1992 The lake is constructed between the 4th & 6th holes.
1994 Purchase of a prefabricated building to house the smaller grass-cutting machinery.
1995 Club’s Centenary Subscriptions: £291.18 / £287.33.
2018 MacKenzie & Ebert, international course architects, engaged to produce a course plan for the club.
2020 The introduction of Slope rating to the UK (min 55 max 155 average 113).

The Clubhouse, Flempton Golf Club, Flempton, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP28 6EQ

01284 728291


© Flempton Golf Club (2021)