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.
|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
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
Par for Group 2:
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
|1953||Flempton Club is bought by its members for £4k.|
|1954||Planting of Norway spruce, Scotch pine and Douglas firs
|1956||The first group membership for USAF base at Lakenheath Group.|
|1963||First kitchen extension and bar improvement.|
|1971||Roy Alderton employed as
|1977||4 sisters from Flempton GC play in the County matches.|
|1985||Complete refurbishment with second kitchen extension, ladies room extension
Atlas Aggregates, the Club’s
Hawtree & Son engaged to advise the Club on the new tee positions. The golf architectural practice and construction
|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).|