The Great Harry Colt
Ringway’s course designer, Harry Shapland Colt, is regarded as the founder of golf course architecture in the British Isles.
Ringway is one of over 300 courses across the globe which Colt (and his team of associates) left their mark on.
Born in Highgate in August 1869, Colt was responsible for the design or revision of Ganton, Royal County Down, Royal Liverpool, Royal Lytham, Royal Portrush, Muirfield, Sunningdale, Wentworth and St Andrews Eden Course. He was also responsible for New South Wales and Royal Melbourne as well as the legendary Pine Valley in New Jersey, USA that was voted the world's best course in 2009.
Nearer to home, Colt also designed Bolton Old Links, Prestbury and Sandiway.
Since 1910, the Open has been played on a Colt-designed or remodelled course over 50 times.
Famous former Ringway members include Enid Wilson, who won the British Ladies' Amateur Open in 1931 and 1932 and five-time Open winner, James Braid Snr.
Established in 1909, Ringway Golf Club is generally regarded as one of the finest parkland courses in Cheshire. A stern but fair test for golfers of all abilities, it boasts commanding views across to Manchester, the Lancashire hills and Derbyshire Peaks. The club has hosted many county matches over the years and is now a regular stop on the regional, professional circuit. The club's rich history is detailed below.
The Early Years
In January 1908, with their cricketing careers coming to an end, some members of Hale and Ashley Cricket Club held a meeting at St Baldred’s Hall on Ashley Road, Hale, to consider the possibility of starting a golf club. A constructional committee was formed to find land and, over the next 15 months, three potential sites were identified. Suitable terms could not be negotiated on any of the sites however and, in January 1909, agreement was reached with Mr Warburton of Oaklands Farm to rent 30 and a half acres of land in Ringway for a period of seven years.
At the first general meeting held in February 1909, the following was agreed: the club would be known as ‘The Ringway Golf Club’, membership would consist of 120 gentlemen and 50 ladies, the entrance fee would be one guinea, and annual subscription would be three guineas for gentlemen (with ladies half price). At the same time, an opportunity arose to lease Hale Mount farmhouse as well, a further 30 acres of land, for a period of seven years with an option for a further seven.
A groundsman was engaged to lay out a 12-hole course, which was opened on 29th May 1909 when Mr Eustace Parker, the first Captain, drove off accompanied by Mr Buckley Brooks, the first President.
The Modern-Day Course Takes Shape
Harry Colt, the soon-to-be famous golf architect, was called in and asked to lay out an 18-hole course on the now available 60 plus acres and this was opened in June 1912.
After the First World War, an additional 55 acres of land became available. Harry Colt was engaged once again to lay out a new and enlarged 18-hole course. Substantial work was involved and the new course was not opened until 1922.
Prior to 1929, all of the land was rented but in that year, the current ‘Company Limited by Guarantee’ was formed which enabled the members, with some financial assistance, to purchase the land and be more in control of the club’s destiny.
During the 1930s there was concern that the club might lose the current third and fourth holes for road widening and for a few years until the early 1940s, three holes were played on part of Davenport Hall Farm which was then owned by Mr Humphrey Humphreys, the club’s second President. After the end of the Second World War, this threat diminished and the third and fourth holes were brought back into play.
Jack Waterhouse, one of our most notable golfers, was friendly with the Braid family and in early 1950 he arranged for five-time Open Champion James Braid to visit Ringway. As a result the course was tightened and according to a note included in our 75th Anniversary programme, all members’ handicaps were increased by four!
Although his father died in November 1950, James Braid Jnr, who had been a Ringway member since 1927, assisted in a re-design of the current 17th and 18th holes, previously used in part as practice area and grazing land for Mr Warburton.
From the opening of the club in 1909, the old farmhouse at Hale Mount was used as the clubhouse and developed and upgraded until January 1987 when, during the building of an extension, a significant fire occurred, completely destroying all buildings.
Fortunately no one was injured but many records, trophies and memorabilia were lost. With typical ‘Ringway Spirit’ members continued using temporary prefabs until the new clubhouse was opened in October 1988.
Members Down The Years
The course, a good test of golf and just short of 6500 yards off the back tees, has hosted many Cheshire County matches and exhibition matches involving Arthur Havers (Open champion in 1923), Abe Mitchell and Bobby Locke. The club’s ladies have an enviable record in team competitions with their most celebrated member being Enid Wilson, winner of the British Ladies’ Open Championship in both 1931 and 1932. The club has been fortunate to have excellent professionals, among them Tom Brace (a Welsh golf champion) from 1912 to 1948, Alex Robertson from 1952 to 1981 and Nick Ryan from 1981 until the present day.
The ladies have always played an active role in the club and in 2001 were given full voting rights. Since then, they have been well-represented on Council including two periods when lady members have served as its Chair. For the first time in 2007, a girl was appointed as Junior Captain.
Golfing societies have been a significant feature of Ringway life. Some have been regular visitors for many years including most notably the ‘New Heart New Start’ fund-raising event for Wythenshawe Hospital. With the club’s centenary now behind us, it is interesting to note how many people have been members for over 50 years and the number of families with membership running for at least three generations. Indeed, one Ringway family is proud to boast of membership for five generations!