Rowlands Castle Golf Club 1902 –
Current Status, Management and Organisation
Rowlands Castle Golf Club is located in Links Lane and today occupies a site of over 100 acres with the focal point being a magnificent Clubhouse that was built in 1993. It is a “members” club with the freehold and assets owned by the members who number almost 1000, comprising men, ladies, social and juniors.
The most important aspect of any golf club is the course and at RCGC we have one of the best “parkland” courses in the region. Its 18 holes measure 6642 yards from the back tees and provide a stern test of golf for even the most accomplished player, however, different tees allow for varying standards of play.
In the British climate any course needs to be able to cope with a wide range of conditions and to this end we have installed fairway watering with our own bore hole and for wetter weather we have recently had a major investment in drainage. The course was originally a 9 hole course but in 1922 was redesigned by the world famous designer, Harry Colt (designer of Wentworth, Royal Portrush and many others) and remains essentially the same today as it was then.
Another important aspect of any golf club is its retail shop/website and teaching facilities and at RCGC we have one of the most experienced golf Professionals in Hampshire. We have a very well stocked shop with prestige ranges of clubs, trolleys, shoes and clothes and an indoor teaching/club fitting studio with the latest shot monitoring equipment. In addition we have a 6 bay outdoor covered driving range for use by members.
As a members club it is guided by a series of Committees made up of elected club members who participate on topics as varied as the course, clubhouse, social and finance all of which are overseen by the Management Committee, which is headed by the elected Club Captain. The Captain is effectively the Chief Executive of the club and is elected for only one year. The Captain represents the club in numerous golf competitions throughout the year and hosts all manner of golf, social and charitable events at the club. Each year the new Captain chooses one or two charities to support. The day to day running of the club and its functioning is the responsibility of the General Manager who has a staff of around 20 people covering course maintenance, catering, bar and administration.
The club was founded in 1902 by a group of local businessmen who saw an opportunity to convert farmland into a golf course and set about building 9 holes without any of today’s mechanical aids – just shovels and horses and carts! There was no clubhouse to start with but a disused railway carriage was purchased in 1903 and later a “pavillion” was built to accommodate the members.
This photo of Rowlands Castle Golf pavilion was taken sometime in the early part of the last century. Note the ladies in all their splendid hats, and the young lads in the front – perhaps hoping to earn a penny or two from caddying – also all wearing some form of headgear.
As the club membership increased in the 1920s the course was extended to 18 holes, as mentioned above, and the clubhouse facilities improved. This trend continued until the start of the second world war when the club was severely impacted by the war effort. In the late 1940s the club resumed its activities but was in some financial difficulty and needed the support of many of the members to see it through and regain its momentum. With membership increasing in the 1960s another new clubhouse was built and formed the basis of today’s clubhouse which was built on top of the old one!
The club celebrated its centenary in 2002 and many events were held to commemorate the achievement culminating in a Gala Ball held on 22nd June where 430 people enjoyed jazz and dinner in a specially erected marquee.
Links & Relationships
The club is very much aware of its impact on its neighbours, whether they be the Forestry Commission, farmers or residents and at all times attempts to act as a good neighbour. The course is maintained by a team of 7 green staff and a head green keeper who get guidance from a committee elected to provide objectives and strategic direction rather than day to day support. The course is a haven for wildlife with frequent sightings of rabbits, foxes, deer and flying visits by buzzards, red kites, kestrels and pheasants. Adders are also seen in the summer, but golfers tend to keep clear!
The golf club has regular matches with local clubs across all sections of the playing membership (men, ladies, seniors and juniors). These matches are in addition to the many internal competitions that take place throughout the year. The club also has a number of “reciprocal” arrangements with other clubs which allow an exchange of players between clubs to get experience of different playing conditions. The club was recently selected to host the final of the Hampshire Professional Golfers Association end of season competition which saw 30 of the top professional golfers in Hampshire competing for the “Race to Rowlands” title. The feedback from the participants was extremely positive about the course and the club. Over the years a number of our juniors have become very talented golfers and recently one has represented England and has now progressed to the professional ranks.
We are fortunate to be sited in the middle of a large village and as such benefit from local membership as well as others from further afield. Our membership extends from very young to very old and from “scratch” golfers to absolute beginners. Our Professional runs free golf taster sessions for juniors and adults to encourage anyone thinking of taking up golf to get started.
We also have a wide range of social events to appeal to those who do not only want to play golf and the modern and spacious clubhouse can cater for social events of up to 120 people.
We regularly hold dinner/dances, themed meals, and quiz nights as well as receptions and dinners for visiting groups. If you are interested in any aspect of the club please feel free to make contact with us at the addresses and numbers below.
Editorial: This Golf Club article was written by Club Archivist Peter Deal who has been an RCGC member for the past forty years. It was first placed on the website in November 2019