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- Fred G. Hawtree
Fred G. Hawtree
Hawtree is the longest continuous practice of golf course construction and design on record. Started by Frederick George Hawtree in 1912, the firm was then operated by his son Frederick William Hawtree after World War II until grandson Martin Grant Hawtree took over the reins in the early 1980s.
Grandfather Fred Hawtree’s involvement with golf saw him start out as a greenkeeper at Sundridge Park in Surrey and it was here in November 1910 that James Braid suggested a program of revisions to the course which had been laid out seven years earlier by Willie Park Jr.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming, “Braid made ‘substantial alterations to three holes’ and added forty eight bunkers which Fred Hawtree put in place, their first and not last collaboration.”
The two men worked together again in 1912 on a new layout at Croham Hurst Golf Club, eight miles to the southwest of Sundridge Park, with Golf Illustrated reporting that the new course would have greens on “absolutely modern lines and bunkers like fortifications, all under the joint supervision of James Braid and F Hawtree.”
After serving with the Army during World War I, Fred worked on his own for a short while before teaming up with J. H. Taylor, another member of the “Great Triumvirate,” in 1922. In The Golf Course by Geoff Cornish and Ron Whitten, the authors describe this partnership as follows:
“Hawtree was responsible for the day-to-day details and design work, while Taylor handled early interviews with clients and appeared at official openings. At one time Hawtree had four highly regarded Irish foreman (Regan, Ryan, Brick and Ward) working under him.”
All told, around fifty layouts were built and another fifty redesigned up until the end of the 1930s. Both men were strong advocates of public golf – jointly founding the National Association of Public Golf Courses in 1927 – and they practiced what they preached by building courses like Norwich Municipal, Martson Green Municipal and White Webbs Municipal.
In 1931, Fred funded and rebuilt Addington Court, a 27-hole layout which was the first privately owned public course in Britain and this facility would serve as the firm’s base for the next half a century until it was eventually sold to new owners.
The company’s most notable project was the 1932 remodelling of Royal Birkdale. Bernard Darwin commented as follows In his book, Golf Between Two Wars: “J.H. Taylor was the architect and he has unquestionably made of Birkdale a ‘big’ course on which it is good fun to see the big men stretch themselves.” They also ventured abroad on several occasions, constructing new courses at Bastad in Sweden, Lisbon in Portugal and Lake Maggiore in Italy.
Hawtree’s son, Frederick William Hawtree, joined the company after graduating from university in 1938 but he would spend the first half of the following decade in Indonesia during World War II, before returning to work with his father.
The two men then co-designed courses at places such as Hartsbourne in 1946, Dyke in 1947 and Maxstroke Park in 1948 until Frederick George passed away at the age of seventy-two in 1955, leaving his son to carry on the business.