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On Friday, 20th September 1912, at The Rise, Highwalls Avenue, six prominent residents of the village of Dinas Powis met together to direct the first tentative steps towards the formation of the Dinas Powis Golf Club.
Their plans came to fruition on 2nd May 1914, when the opening of the Club was marked by what The South Wales Daily News described as a four ball foursomes before an interested gathering.
Between these two dates the Steering Committee with its willing assistants, amateur and professional, organised one hundred and fifty gentlemen and fifty ladies into a Club and converted Highwalls Farm into a golf course.
It was the availability of 38 acres of land at the farm that provided the spur for that initial formation meeting.
The land was part of Cwrt-yr-Ala estate, then in the ownership of Colonel Gore. At that time it was being farmed by one Thomas, who had available to him the tenancy of a farm at Pontypridd, and his only concern was the payment by the Club of compensation for his leaving.
In true committee fashion the original offer of £70 formed the basis of a discussion which occupied the attention of nearly every meeting until a disgruntled farmer was paid off with a sum of £84.6s in October 1914 – after the threat of legal action.
It proved cheaper to assess the ground’s suitability for a golf course. This seal of approval was given by Mr Marjoram of Radyr for the princely sum of 10/6d.
On 27th November 1913, the story so far was revealed to a largely attended meeting of Dinas Powis residents who unanimously approved the formation of the Club.
The only point of contention was the subject of Sunday golf. After discussion, the meeting in November decided that there should be Sunday golf but no labour should be employed on that day. The professional could please himself.
This, however, was not the end of the story. The committee meeting of January 1914, was attended by a deputation whose aim was to secure the rescission of what they considered an unacceptable decision.
This in turn led to a special general meeting and, astonishingly, a written offer of financial assistance to the new club if Sunday golf were not permitted. In the event this offer was not put before the meeting which supported Sunday golf by a majority of 91 votes to 29, after a discussion lasting three hours.
The work of the Club went on. A ground Committee was formed in December 1913, and the decision made to engage the services of Mr Willie Park Jnr, of Mussleborough, the Open Champion in 1887 and 1889, to give his expert advice on the design of the course for a fee of Fifteen Guineas, and his return rail fare from Scotland.
Although not yet in possession of the ground, the Club was clearly ready for the off. A second-hand 30in mower was purchased for £3.10s from the Radyr Club, (The repairs cost more), £4 purchased the horse to pull it, and £2 the harness.
Harry Prosser from Barry was appointed the Club’s first professional/Groundsman at one guinea per week with lessons at 1/- per hour. It was to be some 20 years before he left.
He, perhaps more than Willie Park, was the driving force behind the laying out of the new nine-hole course, which began when the still uncompensated farmer permitted the Club to begin marking out in January 1914.
Possession of the fields which were to form the course was taken on 2nd February 1914, and it is hard to believe that three months later the peace of the grazing sheep was rudely disturbed by golfers at play.
During the preparation of the playground the number of prospective players was increasing apace. Early lists indicated the members came from within the area bounded by Cardiff in the east, and Rhoose in the west, ignoring the one original member who came from West Hartlepool.
With this spread of members and the lack of private transport the decision of the Committee in seeking golfing privilege tickets from the Barry Railway Company may be understood.
The Barry Railway Company were not so understanding. In spite of the then Captain, who had some influence in the Company, agreeing to ‘interview’ the Manager, the request was met with a polite but very firm refusal.
A considerable number of members formed the large gathering which, in ideal weather, witnessed the opening of the Club.
The comprehensive report in the The South Wales Daily News of 4th May 1914, after a short description of the new nine holes, described the opening ceremony in some detail. This included the offer of a Challenge Cup by Colonel Gore, (still played for to this day) and the driving off of the first ball by Mr (later Sir) Joseph Davies, the first Club President.
The photograph was taken and the opening game began between two Glamorganshire members on one hand and the Glamorganshire Professional and Prosser on the other. The Professionals won the game by 7 & 5 but it was worthy of note that the amateurs won the bye two up – the Professionals knew their place.
The Committee had already decided that to mark the occasion the amateurs would be presented with a rack of pipes each, the Professionals had the benefit of a 1/- whip round.
So that was the way the Club began, not with a bang but a whip round.
So many things have happened to the Club in the last 110 years. The conversion of the fairways into potato fields during both World Wars, the story of the Steward who was forcibly reminded that the members were his ‘masters’, and then left, the creation of the additional nine holes in 1921 with the assistance of Open Champion, James Braid, and the golfing claim to fame when in 1928, Mr E R Tipple, reached the semi-final of the English Amateur Championship.
We can only hope that if those six men of perception were to return today they would feel that these 110 years have been well spent and that all the members over the years have not only enjoyed their legacy but have also properly discharged the trust placed in them as members of the Dinas Powis Golf Club.
The One O’clock Gate 1951.
The erection of this gate was typical of the spirit among members of the Club. The reigning captain at the time was seeking ways and means to replace a very broken down gate and at a social function accompanied by other members of Dinas Powis he persuaded his friends to provide a new gate. As the bargain was sealed over a drink the clock struck one, whereupon one of the ladies in the party suggested the obvious name “One O’clock Gate”.