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Boyce Hill

Benfleet, England
Benfleet, England
Rankings
  • Address125 Vicarage Hill, South Benfleet, Benfleet SS7 1PD, UK

Boyce Hill had its origins in nearby Leigh Park Golf Club, which existed during the Great War and for a few years thereafter. A number of the members were unhappy with the playing conditions and when they got word that their course was about to be lost through local council compulsory purchase, they decided to look elsewhere for an alternative piece of land.

Once they identified Boyce Hill Farm as a suitable site, the 120-acre tract was acquired and local professional Joe Steel from Rochford Hundred Golf Club engaged to set out a new course. Incredibly, within thirty days of securing a lease on the property, a 9-hole layout was brought into play on the 1st of October 1922.

By the end of that year, another nine holes were added to form an 18-hole layout measuring 5,355 yards with a bogey of 71. James Braid then visited in January 1925 to improve the newly established golfing set-up and this resulted in him lengthening the course and tightly bunkering the par three holes, while retaining only six of the original holes (5 – 8, 10 and 11).

When the remodelling work was completed by the construction firm of Hawtree & Taylor Ltd, Braid then took part in a couple of exhibition matches (along with Percy Alliss of Wanstead Golf Club, J.H. Taylor from Mid-Surrey Golf Club and club professional Ernie Barker) to mark the opening of the revised layout on 2nd October, 1925.

During World War II, the course was used as a training facility and a small resident army unit was based at the club, equipped with anti-aircraft weapons and searchlights. The clubhouse took a direct hit, but the bomb failed to explode. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed the year after in a fire but it was rebuilt in 1956 with help from the War Damage Commission.

The club then gained a reputation for staging well-organised pro-am competitions, with big prize money on offer thanks to sponsorship deals with local companies, and at one of these events in the mid-1970s, Brian Barnes was a late withdrawal. His replacement turned out to be an unknown young Spaniard who didn’t speak much English but he could certainly play – his name was Seve Ballesteros.

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The course today extends to just over 6,000 yards, playing to a par of 68, but don’t let a lack of length fool you into thinking this parkland track is a pushover – the standard scratch score rating of 70 tells its own tale in that regard. As its name implies, Boyce Hill is one of the hilliest courses in Essex, presenting players with plenty of awkward stances and fine vistas.

Highlight holes on the layout include back-to-back short par fours at the 6th and 7th on the front nine, and the long, downhill 14th on the inward half. Testing uphill par fours at the 13th and 16th demand respect before the round ends in somewhat unconventional fashion with a lovely short par three finishing hole, which plays to a home green nestled close to the clubhouse.

Boyce Hill had its origins in nearby Leigh Park Golf Club, which existed during the Great War and for a few years thereafter. A number of the members were unhappy with the playing conditions and when they got word that their course was about to be lost through local council compulsory purchase, they decided to look elsewhere for an alternative piece of land.

Once they identified Boyce Hill Farm as a suitable site, the 120-acre tract was acquired and local professional Joe Steel from Rochford Hundred Golf Club engaged to set out a new course. Incredibly, within thirty days of securing a lease on the property, a 9-hole layout was brought into play on the 1st of October 1922.

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Course Architect

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James Braid

James Braid was born in 1870 in Earlsferry, the adjoining village to Elie in the East Neuk of Fife. He became a member of Earlsferry Thistle aged fifteen and was off scratch by his sixteenth birthday.

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