Club profile: Knighton Heath Golf Club

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu June 19, 2017 08:03 Updated

The Dorset club has a fascinating history and, now with a strategic plan to upgrade the clubhouse and course, its future could be just as interesting, writes Andy Waple

Knighton Heath is a thriving club in an enviable location between Bournemouth and Poole.

With a testing course running through undulating heathland, it supports a membership of about 600 men, women and juniors, and strives to continue to improve its facilities both on and off the course through a structured modernisation programme.

Over the years it has witnessed changes of name and ownership, has survived drought, scrubland fires and not least a world war just a few years after its inauguration, to establish itself as one of Dorset’s finest clubs.

In 1933 the princely sum of four guineas would be enough to secure golfers membership of the newly formed Northbourne Golf Club as it was then named, situated on Canford Heath.

It was a tempting offer and when the course opened for play in 1934, on undulating land acquired from Lord Wimborne, the fledging club had 250 members on its books.

The club was formally opened with an exhibition match between Percy Alliss, then professional at Ferndown GC, and Alf Padgham, both well-known professionals at the peak of their games.

By 1936 membership had grown to 400 as interest in the sport continued to develop. After lean war years the club recovered and Northbourne hosted its first Bournemouth Golfing Alliance meeting, which continued in subsequent years. The Dorset County Golf Union also staged the annual county championship at the club for the first time in May 1948.

Former stewards Bill and Vera Freeman took over ownership of Northbourne Golf Club in late 1949 and a decade later sold it to Billy Knott who renamed it the New Northbourne Golf Club. He sold it on in 1972, but the new owner went bankrupt in 1976.

This offered club members the opportunity to raise capital for the purchase of the course. This was successfully achieved and the club was renamed Knighton Heath Golf Club.

Canford Heath is the largest lowland heath in the UK and home to many rare species, including the smooth snake, sand lizard and Dartford warbler. Much of it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an episode of the BBC nature programme Springwatch was filmed at Canford Heath’s Hatchpond.

The course, running across part of the heath, is short at 6,065 yards but anyone who has played it will testify it is certainly no pushover as the narrow, undulating fairways are lined with pines making skilled shot-making essential for a good score.

Noted for its excellent greens, it has won acclaim from TripAdvisor visitors, being rated ‘very good’, ‘a hidden gem’ and a ‘good course for high handicappers’.

The influential website www.top100golfcourses.com remarks that it is a very compact track, extending over just 90 acres and is a ‘genuine heathland layout’ with feature holes including the short par fours – the 5th, 6th and 13th.

One reviewer comments: “It is a beautiful, genuine heathland course – a good test – and you will always get friendly welcome – definitely a hidden gem.”

Knighton Heath continually strives to improve its facilities both on and off course and is in the midst of an ongoing programme of clubhouse refurbishments.

General manager, Reunert Bauser, said: “ The club has developed a strategic plan to upgrade all areas of the clubhouse and course to improve the member and visitor experience. We have recently upgraded our kitchen to meet the needs of a developing club. The clubhouse lobby area and 19th have also benefitted from an upgrade with new carpets.”

In addition, a recent comprehensive refit of the male and female lockers has further improved the club.

Knighton Heath selected industry leader Craftsman Lockers to plan and complete the work.

Reunert said: “Top quality wooden lockers, from holdall-sized to the larger sized that can hold a modern golf bag, have replaced the old metal lockers and this has certainly enhanced the image of the club.

“We selected Craftsman to complete the locker room refurbishment work because of their level of quality and attention to detail.

“The result is very good – our members love them and I now have a long waiting list for the lockers.”

Craftsman, which has been at the top of the changing room design sector for generations, is now part of the Ice Locker Group, trading as Craftsman Lockers

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu June 19, 2017 08:03 Updated
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