The following edited extracts are taken from Hornsea Golf Club 1898-1998 by A. A. Clarke:
“A meeting was held at ‘Faifield’ Cliff Road, Hornsea on the evening of 25th May 1898 to discuss the feasibility of starting a golf club in the town. It was agreed that a club should be formed and discussion turned to land which might be suitable for a golf links. Three main possibilities were considered: Rowlston fields, Station fields and Old Hall fields.
Having decided to pursue the idea no time was lost, the three venues were inspected and Old Hall fields chosen as the best site. An agreement was signed with local farmer Mr. Harker to rent sufficient ground for nine holes at an annual charge of £15. Tom Vardon, the professional from Ilkley and brother of Harry Vardon, was retained to design the course.
By 1906 the club was seriously looking at alternatives to their nine-hole course and again the fields at Rowlston were suggested. Major Haworth Booth had been a keen founder member of the club and resided at Rowlston Hall. In 1907 an extraordinary general meeting was called to discuss the matter and it was decided to move to a new 120-acre site at Rowlston.
The Open champion Sandy Herd had looked over the proposed land, considered it suitable, and submitted a plan for the new course. The Major offered to lay it out at his own expense and build a bungalow-style clubhouse. He would charge a nominal £50 per rent for the first two years then take 25% of subscriptions and green fees in lieu of rent.
Herd’s plan was to be varied twice in following years after consultation with famous golf architects Dr. MacKenzie and James Braid. They proposed some drastic alterations to the very flat greens and suggested extensive bunkering. In 1914 it was to have hosted the Yorkshire second division championship but the outbreak of war intervened.
Four years after opening the Rolston course, the advice of Dr. MacKenzie was sought. He considered in general the course was very good but made a number of recommendations, particularly in relation to the greens. He considered all the Hornsea greens except the 6th were too flat. Some, but not all of his ideas were implemented by the club.
In August 1924, James Braid was asked to review the course. He made a number of recommendations particularly relating to bunkering, some of the more interesting ones were: take the 6th green back over the ridge, move the 7th tee nearer the gate, move the 9th green further back on to the higher ground so that it could be seen by golfers at an earlier stage.
Drainage was always a problem and many efforts to drain the fairways were made over the years, particularly in the 1970s when extensive work was carried out. Landscaping with trees began in earnest after the Second World War. Over 700 trees were planted as a first phase and the programme continued over the years to completely change the appearance of the area.”
James Braid, 5 times winner of the Open was asked to the course and he proposed various alterations relating to bunkering on the course, which really do give the course an edge and that extra bit of protection against over powering the course. I love the constant.rolling.fairways a Braid trademark that adds charecter and difficulty in equal measure. Course was in good condition, and I have to say has one of the finest and toughest half a dozen closing holes I've played on a non championship course.
Hornsea Golf Club provides an enjoyable round of golf. Located just a mile from the sea on the East Coast of Yorkshire it's a fast running course, albeit a parkland layout, with a wide variety of holes. The greens are usually in exceptional condition and putt similar to a links course.
Due to the firm nature of the ground the course usually feels to play less than its yardage of 6,600 but is still a good test of golf. A regular feature throughout the round is the ridge and furrows on the fairways which can often result in a downhill or uphill lie and adds an interesting shot-making dimension to your round.
The first half a dozen or so holes head away from the clubhouse and with calm conditions or a tail wind it's a gentle start for the first five holes with three par fours under 330 yards and a reachable par five.
That all changes at the sixth though with a 447 yard uphill par four. This is a fantastic hole with trouble off the tee and a two-tiered green perched in the corner of the property. A driver may give you the best chance of reaching in two but is fraught with danger and a fairway wood or long iron is a sensible choice.
The next is a formidable par three to a basin green before a chance to pick up a stroke at the par five eighth (where you tee off in the shadow of the iconic water tower), but only if you miss the gorse that flanks the fairway on both sides. The same gorse needs to be negotiated off the tee at the ninth before a semi-blind approach to a green that slopes severely from back to front.
It is the closing stretch where Hornsea comes into its own. The 14th is a long par four where a ditch at each side of the fairway nips in just at the perfect driving distance. You can hit an iron and take it out of play but you will then be faced with 200+ yards for your second shot.
The 15th is one of my favourite holes on the course. This time the hole shapes the other way with a series of bunkers encouraging a drive down the right to open up the green.
The 16th is another shallow dog-leg, a par five with bunkers 80 yards short of the green to be negotiated if one is to reach in two. The 17th is a delicate par three where the correct distance and line are essential before the 18th, a strong par four, returns to the clubhouse and boasts a long green that slopes away from the fairway.
There are few courses similar in nature to Hornsea and that is perhaps its greatest appeal.
There are some good holes to be enjoyed here and when the greens are at their best they're a match for anywhere.
Depending upon the sea breeze you must usually make your score early and then hang on over the excellent finishing stretch where pars are very much your friend.
It's an easy walking course with firm and fast fairways and although not a links it is very much a running golf course.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.