Club History

1889 - 2014 Celebrating 125 Years

The 1880’s was the decade in which golf became firmly established in East Anglia. Clubs were formed at Felixstowe in 1880, at Great Yarmouth in 1882, Southwold and Aldeburgh in 1884 and Royal Cromer on 1888. Perhaps a significant factor in each case was the easy availability of suitable land. The survival of Outney Common, granted to the town by one of the early Dukes on Norfolk, made golf possible at Bungay.

The common had been a traditional venue for local sport. The annual Bungay horse races took place in the 18th and 19th centuries and were held under National Hunt Rules from 1883 until 1956. The Norfolk Chronicle in 1828 reported on a meeting as “very fully and fashionably attended by not less than 10,000 persons on a course which from the undulating surface of Bungay Common with surrounding picturesque scenery, is, with the exception of Doncaster, considered the best in England”.

On the 8th Jan 1889 six men of “substance” met to discuss the possibility of bringing golf to Bungay. Mr Mann informed the meeting that he had obtained permission from the Bungay Common Owners to make “Links” and play golf on the common, it was unanimously resolved to form a Golf Club to be called “The Waveney Valley Golf Club”.

The entrance fee for gentlemen was fixed at 10/6d for the first fifty members and £1 1s. 0d, thereafter. Other rules and regulations were drawn up for printing. The Hon. Secretary was requested to complete an agreement with the Common Reeves, to arrange for a Professional to mark out the Links, and to interview the Land Agent for the G.E Railway with a view to obtaining a lease to erect a hut on its land.

The layout owes a lot to the five times Open Champion, James Braid (right), who re-designed and enlarged the course to 18 holes in 1901. He returned in April 1906 to play an exhibition match against Bob Jacobs who was the professional at the time. His nephew related that Bob was so nervous on the first tee that Braid took him back to the club house and gave him a double whisky! Braid won 8 up.One of the Clubs earliest and arguably one of the most famous was Sir Henry Rider Haggard who had already achieved considerable success as a writer of adventure stories such as King Solomons Mines. In 1915 he became President, but the Club became temporarily discontinued because of the war.

The disappearance of golf from Bungay was short-lived and never complete. A group of devotees formed a temporary club in August 1917 with a nominal subscription, made a nine hole course and continued to play around the fringes of the military encampment. A month before armistice was signed, three members of the committee met to appoint a temporary Hon. Secretary and to prepare the Club for revival. This was established on Easter Monday 1919 when an AGM of nineteen members unanimously approved the Club be continued. The subscription was now £2 2s for new gentlemen and £1 11s 6d for ladies. A Steward was appointed and so was Walter Prime as professional. He agreed to keep the greens in good order with cutting, rolling and brushing in his own time whilst carrying on with the rest of his duties.

The outbreak of the Second World War brought considerable difficulties, not least financially. Membership in 1942 dropped to 99 and a reduction in the rent was sought and granted by the Common Owners. A newspaper article in 1961 spoke of it as a “Do it yourself Club” which may have established the friendly and local spirit you see today.

In recent years the Club has grown and grown and now has 600 full members. However, it is always good to cast an eye back to the Clubs origins and take a minute to appreciate the difficulties that many clubs encountered in their formative years and be thankful for the wonderful course we enjoy today.
Bungay & Waveney Valley Golf Club
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