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Course & Club History

Tinsley Park Municipal Golf Course and Tinsley Park Golf Club

 The Municipal Course

The paths of both the Course and Club have run neatly together through history since their incarnations in 1920.

The first nine holes of the 18 hole course were opened on 17th July 1920.  The official opening ceremony, which included an exhibition match between George Duncan (Open Champion), James Braid, J H Taylor and Abe Mitchell, was well attended with many council officials amongst the guests, including; Sir William Clegg, Alderman Cattell; Mr T W Quine and Captain Fred Banning. 

Also present was the golf course architect Dr Alister Mackenzie of Leeds, later to be the designer of the famous Augusta National course and Mr Alfred E Turnell (a local architect) who had much to do with the laying out of the course.  In council minutes it is recorded that Messrs. Colt, Mackenzie and Alison – Mackenzie was in partnership with Harry Colt and Charles Alison from 1919 – 1923, were paid for advisory fees and surveyor’s charges, while Mr Turnell’s services had been rendered voluntarily in connection with the construction of the course. 

Sir William Clegg welcomed the players and stated “the main desire in the minds of those who had secured the possibility of the course, was to provide golf, not so much for that which was so often miscalled the middle-class population, as for the artisan, to encourage him to come to Tinsley to learn something of a game which was being played with such extraordinary popularity and which was so very delightful”.

The full 18 hole course (which cost £12,000) was official opened on 23rd April 1921 with the most famous exponents of golf visiting again, the only change in the constitution of the players, as compared to those present at the opening of the 9 holes the previous year, was Harry Vardon for James Braid.  560 people paid for admission on the day of the exhibition game and with members and invited guests, close to 1,000 spectators witnessed the day’s play.

Scorecard

Hole  Yardage     Par            Hole  Yardage     Par

1        263yrds        4                  10      280yrds        4

2        444yrds        5                  11      429yrds        5

3        120yrds        3                  12      107yrds        3

4        423yrds        5                  13      392yrds        5

5        220yrds        4                  14      288yrds        4       

6        350yrds        5                  15      112yrds        3

7        118yrds        3                  16      308yrds        5

8        256yrds        4                  17      369yrds        5

9        248yrds        4                  18      294yrds        4

                                                         

Total Length 5,021 yards
Par 74

 

How It All Began

 Sheffield City Council considered the purchase of land at Tinsley Park from the estate belonging to the Earl of Fitzwilliam in 1915, however, they were already running a municipal golf course at Woodseats which had opened in 1913 and it was felt that requesting a loan of £10,000 to buy the land at Tinsley Park was not financially viable during the war years. The plans were therefore put on hold, with a request to the Earl of Fitzwilliam that the council be allowed to purchase the land under the same conditions within 3 years.

In April 1917 the Council decided to proceed with the purchase of the land at Tinsley Park.  In 1918, with the First World War still raging, the council decreed that 20 acres of land at Woodseats Golf Course, Hutcliffe Wood, be taken for corn production with the rest being given over to war allotments during the war and for 6 months after - resulting in the loss of Woodseats golf course. 

This, it appears, is where the basis of the club membership at Tinsley originated. A meeting was held on 12th July 1920 to discuss the formation of an Artisan’s Golf Club in connection with the new course, this was well attended and where it was decided to form a club and an organising committee was appointed.  Mr R S Midgley, who had been president of the Woodseats Artisans’ Golf Club, also offered a Gold Medal for competition during the first year. 

At a meeting held on 30th July 1920, the council sub-committee also appointed Mr Thomas Gillies, who was the former Professional at Woodseats Golf Course (and before that Lindrick GC), as Professional at the new course on a retaining fee of 30/0 per week. 

Alfred Turnell, a local Sheffield Architect, who designed the alterations to the Masonic Lodge on Surrey Street, was involved in the design of the Tinsley Park Municipal course - he had also been heavily involved in the design of the Woodseats municipal course for Sheffield Council.  Although council minutes and account books show that the firm of Colt, Mackenzie and Alison were working on the project, with documents supporting the visit of Dr Mackenzie to the course, there is no documentation which clarifies how the two men knew each other. However in 1913 Mr Turnell had been commissioned in consultation with Dr Mackenzie to design the Sitwell Park Golf Club in Rotherham, therefore the two gentlemen had some connection, preliminary indications suggest that there may have been a Masonic link between the two men, but this is still being researched.

The visiting professionals continued to show an interest in the golf course and donated various golf clubs to be competed for in the 1923 Banning Cup: George Duncan – autographed iron; Abe Mitchell – autographed driver; E Ray – autographed brassey.

In June 1931 interchangeable season tickets were introduced by the council allowing players to play at either Tinsley or Beauchief.

In February 1927 Tinsley Park Golf Club representatives, Mr E Meadowcroft (President), Mr T Morley (Secretary) and Mr Benn (Assistant Secretary) attended a council meeting and requested that Sunday play be allowed at the course – this was declined.  Each year members from both Tinsley and Beauchief clubs petitioned the council for Sunday play, this was finally passed in January 1940. 

However, this was nearly the end for Tinsley, as in February 1939 it was passed at a Council meeting that Tinsley Park Golf Course should be discontinued as a golf course with effect from 31st December 1939 and that a scheme should be prepared by the estates surveyor detailing the future use of the land.  This decision was made due to the heavy losses the course had incurred over the 18 years since opening - £28,214 18s 5d. 

The outbreak of war at the beginning of September 1939 had a significant effect on the Council meeting later that month and the surveyor submitted a report detailing the recommendations for the land. These plans included 12 football/hockey pitches, and 6 cricket grounds with all buildings and facilities for a total of £9,500.

 Thankfully, it was decided not to proceed due to the war conditions and that the decision of February 1939 be rescinded and revisited when normal conditions prevailed.

This was not the only time the course faced an uncertain future.  In August 1944, with the country in the depths of war, there was a request to open cast mine Tinsley Park Golf Course, High Hazels Park and Tinsley Park Playing Fields and a month later modified plans were submitted and rough undulating ground covered by scrub adjoining the course was open cast instead - this can be seen on aerial photos taken during the war and now forms the current 5th/6th holes.

Details during the war years are few and far between.  The next documentation in Council minutes appeared in November 1946 where the sub-committee recommended that, as the contours and soil condition of the land at Tinsley Park Golf Course were more suited to golf than any other games and that in view of the increased potential users (as the adjacent Handsworth-Woodhouse Estate developed), the scheme referred to in previous Council minutes be not proceeded with and that the land continue to be used as a golf course. 

There were plans to extend the course and the Council purchased land from the Carbrook Reform Wesleyan Church Trustees in March 1947 at a cost of £365 and then land at High Hazel Park from Mr E Oliver in September 1948 at a cost of £750.  This, presumably, is the land on which the current 3rd and 4th holes are played.  The club/Professional (Mr W Preen) moved into High Hazels House on 24th March 1948 (Easter Sunday), having previously operating from tram cars and wooden structures by the side of the 1st Tee.

The research still continues and unfortunately some of the documents and pictures that have been unearthed are covered by copyright laws and therefore can not be published.  If anyone is interested in discussing the history, would like to see the documents or has any further information about the course and club (photos, info on Mr Turnell, etc.), please get in contact via the “contact us” link and our resident historian will get back to you.

Thanks have to be expressed to The Sheffield Archive Library - for access and help with Council Minutes and newspapers; English Heritage National Monuments Record for the 1940’s aerial pictures and Neil Crafter (Researcher/Historian/Golf Course Architect and now friend) of the Alister Mackenzie Society www.alistermackenzie.co.uk – who provided documents, direction, and support. 

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading.
Suzanne Ashmore
Tinsley Park Golf Club Member