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Denham

Yardage
6488
Par
70
SSS
72
Built
1910
Architect(s)
Harry Colt, James Braid, Ken Cotton, Donald Steel
Nature:
Harry Colt heathland/parkland design with fescue grassed fairways and friendly, attractive clubhouse.
Location/Address:
West London near M40 and M25. Postcode: UB9 5DE
http://www.denhamgolfclub.co.uk
Secretary
David Cromie
Telephone
01895 832022
Professional
Mark Lawrie
Green Keeper
Guy Jenkins
denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,
denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,
denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,
denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,
denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,
Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
well behaved dogs on a lead welcome
Open Meetings:
none
Fees in 1960s
50p
Fees today
£70 - 2018

Review

The Club is indebted to Lt.-Col. Ben Way of Denham Place and his two brothers, all non-golfers, for allowing the course to be built on their land in 1910 with the use of a farmhouse as the clubhouse.

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The beautiful early clubhouse. Click to enlarge.

They remained active in the Club’s affairs until the freehold was sold to the Club in 1943, negotiated astutely by Jack Moir.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

The sign on the railway platform.

The course is to the north of where the “joint Grand Central and Great Western Railway” to give it its full original name, is situated, and it was they who built a station for the golfers. Called ‘Denham Golf Club’ it is the only railway station in the UK with the words ‘Golf Club’ as part of its name and continues to be used by those living in High Denham, and by some of the younger members particularly for a summer evening round after work.

The Denham founders were well connected and were aware of the rising renown of Harry Colt, he being an important part of the new ‘strategic school’ of golf course architects, and made the sensible decision to retain him to lay out their course.

Colt wrote that: “The middle aged golfer is disinclined for mountaineering in the morning, and if the house committee know their business, he is even less inclined for it in the afternoon”.

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James Braid’s fifteenth green

Denham has many undulations but the only significant uphill climb is to the 13th tee which the terrain makes this unavoidable.

There have been a few alterations over the years, significantly by James Braid creating the fifteenth terraced green and Ken Cotton moving the third fairway closer to the Airfield so as to create a practice ground between the first and ninth holes. Braid also added lots more bunkers, though these have been mostly removed over the years.

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Vardon putting on the 11th green in 1913.

The planting of numerous trees across this originally open farmland course can be seen most obviously from a photo of Harry Vardon, six times Open Champion, putting on a rainy day on the eleventh green in 1913 with the railway line behind.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

The 11th green today

The eleventh and twelfth holes are now hemmed in by trees and these two greens struggle to perform in agronomic terms.

The trees around the entrance to the Club and on the southeast side of the first green are also not a help to the quality of the grasses on that green, nor at the second tee that has now been returned to its original area of having a sharper dogleg again, over a grassy pit.

Denham was one of the few courses in 1910 to have two loops of nine holes, as courses up to this time were predominantly ‘out and back’.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

The back of the clubhouse today

The two loops, each of some 3250 yards with in the main fescue/bent grassed fairways, are quite different in feel.

The first nine seem flatter with more of a parkland feel and contain good par fours with slight doglegs at four, six and seven and a hefty 450 yarder back towards the clubhouse.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

A plane over the 13th green.

The second nine have the only par fives and these are back to back on the highest part of the course being the holes over which the many small aeroplanes and helicopters that have come from the aerodrome alongside the third hole are best seen.

I am not sure why there is such an abrupt change from fescue/bent turf to weed annual meadow grass half way along the thirteenth fairway, but it takes us to the top of the course from where, if there were less trees, good views over west London would be provided.

The back nine also contains three short par fours with the tenth, eleventh and seventeenth each being made interesting by considerable movement in the ground.

The four par threes possess strong individual characters and are all aligned in different directions, though as these are among trees the wind direction here perhaps is of lesser importance.

The fifth up to Philip Stephens’s house in the corner is all of 200 yards and requires a shot of all carry. The eighth, a parkland hole near a pretty pond, has a devilish green.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

The 16th

The thin grassed twelfth is a side shelf among trees, while the sixteenth of the same length of 135 yards is much more attractive, set out in the open with good bunkering.

My recollections of having played Denham many times over the years, are in many ways similar to Donald Steel’s, who has been a member here from boyhood playing his first round in 1944 when part of the course was given over to the airfield during World War II. There is an emphasis on the old world character of the beautiful club house and the family nature of the club.

He puts it thus: “Denham is the perfect model for any club. At the heart is the imperishable hallmark of a Harry Colt golf course and a unique farm house-style clubhouse but equally important is a vibrant membership that appreciates both.”

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

The early landlord’s shooting trophies

Lt.-Col. Way donated his collection of very fine shooting trophies of wildebeest and stags’ heads that adorn the walls of the large, high ceiling-ed dining room. It is up to the individual whether, in these pc days, these trophies enhance or detract from your lunch but there are very few golf clubs that provide a luncheon with a wine list, which when chosen by connoisseur Francis Murray of “The Open. A twentieth-century History” golfing fame, as I have had the good luck to enjoy, that is seldom bettered.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

John and Jimmy Sheridan

One cannot review Denham without mentioning John Sheridan the pro here from 1946 to 1998. John was son of Jimmy the renowned caddie-master at Sunningdale for 57 years. John was an assistant pro at Swinley Forest and then Sunningdale and his plus-fours, as seen in this photo were abandoned and never seen again at Denham.

“Golf is a game played from behind the ball” was one of John’s famous teaching phrases, his definition of which implies the need to stay back and not get ahead of the ball – which we all do from time to time.

He will be best remembered for his interest in the members and much of the relaxed nature of this Club can be attributed to his influence.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel,

Alex Millar, Head greenkeeper and champion Artisan golfer.

There used to be tennis courts here in Edwardian days which were where now the practice putting green is and the former tennis pavilion became the artisans’ clubhouse. Alex Millar was their most successful artisan golfer, five times National Artisan Champion while head greenkeeper at Denham from 1966 to 2000.

Guy Jenkins, who also has a keen interest in rearing horses, took over ten years ago and his team of ten staff look after the 130 hectares of cut turf, which at times has perhaps suffered from too many green committee policy changes!

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel, cecil leitch, joyce wethered

Joyce Wethered with Cecil Leitch

The greens are of annual meadow grass (Poa annua) with browntop bent and as is the fashion these days around London, even on most heathland tracks, these are receptive and it is not easy to run your ball in from across the aprons and the high, full distance, target approach is the better scoring game. Alistair Beggs is the Club’s agronomist.

denham golf club, harry colt, james braid, donald steel, W G Grace,

W.G. Grace with Sir Stanley Jackson England’s cricket captain.

Other past members include Denis Compton CBE, Miss Cecil Leitch and Rt Hon Sir Stanley Jackson, the early cricketer. Marigold Speir, an early pupil of John Sheridan, won the Scottish Ladies Amateur Championship in 1957. Miss Cecil Leitch, brought up at Silloth-on-Solway, became a dominant figure in women’s golf and one of the game’s great characters of the 1920s.

It is always an enjoyable day out to find one’s way to Denham to partake of the fine hospitality in lovely surroundings with golf of fine interest and not too stressful a type.

 

Reviewed by Lorne Smith 2018

 

 

 

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