13 - The Brighton Open Festival Cup - threat to close the course!

Pim Neller, the Club Professional, playing a chip shot. The onlooker is Bert Knight, the younger chap caddying is Fred Knight, my Grandfather and Father respectively
Private collection of John Knight
John Sparks pictured winning the Festival Cup between Mr & Mrs Jack Douglas Winners of the Brighton Open Mixed Pairs 1962
HPGC Archive
Club member Howard St Clair receiving the Festival Cup from Captain Reg Morton
HPGC Archive
Multiple Club Champion Paul Betteridge receiving the Brighton Open Scratch Trophy from Captain Reg Morton
HPGC Archive
Score card for the Minature Course
HPGC Archive

1951 – The club continues to prosper and grow – The 1951-1952 Annual Report recorded that membership was 234 – 193 men and 41 women. The Annual Dinner was held at the Grand Hotel and the Annual General Meeting was held in the Royal Pavilion with the prize giving by the Mayor. Heady days for the Club.

Jack Douglas – Greenkeeper

The above report congratulated Jack Douglas the Greenkeeper, employed by the Parks and Gardens Department to look after the care and upkeep of the courses at Hollingbury and Waterhall, on breaking the amateur course record in August with a ‘magnificent round of 68’.  He clearly not only knew how to look after golf courses but how to play on them as he became Hollingbury Club Champion and went on to win The British Green Keepers Championship. A further tribute was paid to the professional H ‘Pim’ Neller.

1951 The Brighton Open Festival Cup

Every year since the inauguration of The Brighton Open, the Town Clerk had written to the Club giving them permission to organise the ‘Open’, and giving them exclusive use of the course for the duration of the meeting. In April 1951 they also asked the Club to purchase a cup which would be played for annually. ‘The Festival Cup’ became the major event for men in the open event. By the mid-’50s the Open Amateur Coemption was attracting record numbers of players, the club and course were becoming increasingly attractive to both local and visiting golfers. Mr ‘Pompey’ Phillips, a leading light in the town’s men’s outfitters and Captain to be in 1960, presented the club with a cup to be played for as the Scratch Cup in the same event – this attracted some of the Counties best golfers.

Increasing membership

Membership was on the increase once again in the ’50s. It received a temporary boost in July 1950 when H.M.S. Boxer dropped anchor between the piers and with a great display of diplomacy, the committee decided to make the crew temporary members for the week they were in town – at no cost. No doubt the increased bar profits justified their decision! The Mayor wrote to the club thanking them for extending the hand of friendship to the ship’s company. There was another boost with another visit from the Royal Navy during the summer of 1956, H.M.S. Glasgow dropped anchor just off the West Pier, once again the Club offered to entertain Officers and Crew during their visit. A 16 a side match was arranged but there is no record of who won it in the minutes.  Did the navy carry sets of golf clubs for such opportunities?

Threat of closure of the course

Despite the Club prospering, in February 1953 the Council Parks Committee informed the Club Committee that they were considering closing one of Brighton’s three municipal golf courses due to income not keeping pace with increasing expenditure. The Golf Course Superintendent, R Howell, in a report to the Parks Committee stated that Waterhall ‘must remain an open space as a water catchment area’. That the Dyke Course ‘is a new one already becoming noted and in time would pay its way’ – He went on to described Hollingbury as ‘being slowly closed in due to housing development, golf in certain areas is becoming more difficult owing to the great number of public using the Course for recreational purposes’.  The Club were asked if they would consider taking a lease on the golf course.

An offer from Brighton Council

After listening long and hard to Mr.Howell outlining the difficulties of running a golf course and club, the Club Committee discussed the matter at great length and then instructed the secretary to write to the Town Clerk advising him that ‘without the Club having any control over the general public, who roamed about the course at will, they would have to refuse the offer.’ As a result, the Council approached The Dyke Golf Club, they accepted the challenge and it became a  successful private club. Mr Howell served as the Council employed Course Superintendent for 21 years. In 1952 he donated a cup for competition by ‘The Over 50s’ to be called The Half Century Cup, the offer was accepted with gratitude and thanks. He would become a very popular and well-respected Captain of the club in 1955.

Prosperity and growth

1951 – The club continues to prosper and grow – The 1951-1952 Annual Report recorded that membership was 234 – 193 men and 41 women. The Annual Dinner was held at the Grand Hotel and the Annual General Meeting was held in the Royal Pavilion with the prize giving by the Mayor. Heady days for the Club. The above report congratulated Jack Douglas the Greenkeeper, employed by the Parks and Gardens Department to look after the care and upkeep of the courses at Hollingbury and Waterhall, on breaking the amateur course record in August with a ‘magnificent round of 68’.  He clearly not only knew how to look after golf courses but how to play on them as he became Hollingbury Club Champion and went on to win The British Green Keepers Championship. A further tribute was paid to the professional H ‘Pim’ Neller.

Long-serving  Course Superintendent

After listening long and hard to Mr.Howell outlining the difficulties of running a golf course and club, the Club Committee discussed the matter at great length and then instructed the secretary to write to the Town Clerk advising him that ‘without the Club having any control over the general public, who roamed about the course at will, they would have to refuse the offer.’ As a result, the Council approached The Dyke Golf Club, they accepted the challenge and it became a  successful private club. Mr Howell served as the Council employed Course Superintendent for 21 years. In 1952 he donated a cup for competition by ‘The Over 50s’ to be called The Half Century Cup, the offer was accepted with gratitude and thanks. He would become a very popular and well-respected Captain of the club in 1955.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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