|Flag raising||Prestbury Captain Nick Wood drives in||Ladies Captain Helen Bolam drives in|
|Presentation of Centenary Plate by Cheshire President||Cheshire President David During||George Payne|
|Helen and Nick before the drive in||Prestbury Stars Maurice Phillips and Elwyn Ellis|
After some awful weather for the previous 24 hours the sun broke through as Prestbury Golf Club made a great start to their Centenary year.
It followed eight years of planning by Stephen Napper and his Centenary Committee and members, distinguished guests, family and friends enjoyed a superb occasion.
The celebrations began as Ladies Captain Helen Bolam and Gentlemen’s Captain Nick Wood both hit impressive drives off the first tee.
Then it was over to the flagpole by the clubhouse where they raised the Centenary Flag and a Union Jack.
Back in the clubhouse Nick gave the opening speech welcoming guests and thanking all of the Centenary committee for their sterling efforts. He then gave an account of the history of one of top clubs in Cheshire.
Helen Bolam gave her speech which was outlining the busy and varied year ahead both on and off the course for all of the members and visitors with an exciting triangular series with fellow Cheshire Centenary clubs Sandiway and Eaton as one of the highlights.
It was then over to the Cheshire President David Durling (Shrigley Hall) who congratulated the club on their success and presented Nick with the England Golf Commemorative Centenary Plate.
The final presentation came from club member George Payne, also a member of the R and A, who presented Helen with a letter of congratulation on behalf of the Captain and Members of the R and A.
Helen gave her thanks to George and closed the official proceedings before a full house enjoyed a relaxed and sociable Sunday Lunch.
In his speech Nick Wood gave a good insight in to the history and development of the club over the past 100 years.
Nick said: “Now as the great Bobby Jones said:- ’Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball from where it lies’.
“Golf has been played for centuries. The game is built on the strong foundations provided by its founding fathers, upholding ancient traditions of fair play, etiquette and deference to the rules. Modern golf combines these principles with the best in modern technology and global competition.
“There are arguments that suggest the game was founded by the Chinese or by the Romans to name just two examples but the spiritual home of the game golf is St Andrews in Scotland. Local lore has it that 12th-century shepherds invented the game of golf on land which was to become the famous Old Course by clubbing stones into rabbit holes with sticks. The Scottish game is set apart from others by one simple stipulation: that the ball must land in a hole. The first written evidence relating to the game of golf was in 1457.
“By comparison therefore we are a relative newcomer to this fantastic game. Our 75th anniversary book described the formation of Prestbury and Upton Golf Club as being founded in 1920 by a few golfing enthusiasts, a pleasant blend of professional and business men, some of whom were members of Macclesfield Golf Club, who lived in the district and who wished to have an 18 hole course on rather less strenuous terrain.
“The Club was founded on Fields Farm, which had no mills, a number of pleasant houses and was on sandy soil. Hopes of opening the Club in July 1920 proved over optimistic and it wasn’t until April 1921 that the first competition was held on part of the course. In fact the official opening wasn’t until 26th April 1924. Mr Tom Taylor, Club Captain, had the honour of driving the inaugural ball on this occasion.
“Immediately upon the ball being driven the Club colours, surmounted by the Union Jack, were hoisted on the flagpole.
“The flagstaff was presented to the Club in March1924, by Mr H.C. Bickerton of Thorneycroft Hall. The Ladies Captain and I are honoured to have followed in their footsteps.
“The course today, is very similar to that first laid out by the famous golf architect, Harry Colt, but much else has changed. Houses have proliferated - in 1920 Prestbury was a village of 26 houses, stretching from Prestbury Hall at one end of the street to Bradshaw House at the other.
“In the 1920s views in all directions were wide open as far as the hills of Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, Mow Cop and Alderley Edge. You can’t see them so easily now because of all the trees which have grown in such profusion since the 1950s, although I am pleased to say that our recent tree management has reopened
some of these vistas.
“For the following 75 years or so, little changed at the Club.
Captains came and went, Secretaries came and went, but in more recent times there have been quite a few changes including to the the Constitution of the Club.
“We now have Lady and Gentleman members of equal standing. All members have voting rights- once unthinkable! We have a professional management team, and a smaller, but effective Management Board doing far more and efficient work than previously imagined.
“And, as if to celebrate this success, the course is now busier than ever with a growing number of exceptionally talented high class players and a thriving mixed section, enjoying all that the Club has to offer.
“I have no doubt that the founders of this great Golf Club would be delighted at the health and strength of our club today. Gentlemen and Ladies membership as strong as they have ever been; Our teams (both gentlemen and ladies) have been taking all before them; the Club has a strong financial framework; we have a course the envy of most in the UK; a refurbished Clubhouse which has made our many social events even more enjoyable and I hope will encourage our new members as well as long standing members to support our various events.
“Any member Club lives and dies by the strength of its membership and I would like to think that Prestbury’s friendly and welcoming approach will keep us right up there with the best in Cheshire.”
Photos & copy courtesy Geoff Garnett