Romford Golf Club is sited on land that was part of the Gidea Hall Estate, which dates back to the 13th century. Golf arrived much later when the old hall and its grounds came into the hands of the proprietors of the Whitehall Golfers’ Club. According to club history; “It seems that the initiative to lay out the golf course was that of Mr D. Hill and Mr W. Paterson… The decision was taken on March 16th, 1894, by the 13 man committee.” And so, Romford Golf Club (or Gidea Links as it was also known back then) was born.
George McIntosh, former professional at Headingley
Golf Club, originally laid out the course for the founding members and became
Romford’s first club professional. In 1896, James Braid replaced McIntosh and
during his six-year tenure at Romford Golf Club he refashioned the course (his inagural design) and won his first Open Championship at Muirfield. Of course, Braid went
on to win the Claret Jug four more times while attached to Walton Heath Golf Club.
“Romford was, and I have no doubt is, a decidedly good
course,” wrote Bernard Darwin in the biography of
James Braid. “It had
not the beauties of sand and heather but in those days
Woking was, I think, the
only London course that had.”
“When James was there it was certainly one of the best of the London golf courses. I have always had agreeable memories of it from several close and pleasant matches there and in particular because it was there that I first met James.”
Darwin described this six-time Open Championship Regional Qualifying course as “neither short nor easy” and today’s layout is still testing, measuring 6,383 yards from the tips with par set at 71.
The 477-yard par four 4th, which is normally played into the prevailing wind, is where Romford starts to show its teeth. The Pro’s tip here is to “carry the middle bunker for the second shot, card a five and move on”. #14 is the hardest hole on the card, it’s another brutal par four that measures 455 yards where a pond lies in wait short right of the green, eager to gather as many balls as possible.
Romford Golf Club will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2019 and plans are already underway to make this an event to remember.