Club profile: Holywell Golf Club

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire June 25, 2019 15:02

This inland links-type course is one of the highest in Wales and has served its local community well for over 100 years – and the club has been investing in its clubhouse to ensure that this continues for much longer.

The pioneer golfers of Holywell GC were not the first to carry clubs as they walked the fairways on Brynford Common in Flintshire, North Wales.

Archeological remains point to a long history of human activity in the area, carried out by Roman invaders, Bronze Age warriors and the man who beheaded St Winefride. Their clubs were not the ones found on golf courses everywhere today, but weapons.

Golfers who now enjoy more peaceful pursuits on what is described as a fine inland links course are reminded of the area’s more recent history and the toils of local men, thanks to the numerous man-made humps and hollows that are the remnants of a once prosperous yet dangerous industry.

It is believed an ancient Welsh tribe was the first to make use of the rich seams of lead ore that lay just below the surface of Brynford Common. Following the conquest, the Romans developed the mining trade which continued throughout the Middle Ages into the Victorian era. Works included the Clwt Militia Mine which lay close to the golf club, a complex which yielded lead and silver from the early 19th century until its closure in 1903.

Eventually the famous Flintshire industry dwindled as cheap imports impacted on its viability and only limestone mining remained.

The hive of industrial activity and the relics of the area’s heritage are plain to see across the course. Lines of relatively shallow pits from the lead mining are still visible and the club has wisely utilised these distinctive features, integrating them into the fabric of the course, presenting a rare landscape of great visual interest.

Old limestone quarries underlie the second and eighth fairways and together with disused lime kilns, form tough hazards on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes.

Beneath the first, second, seventh, 11th, 12th, 13th and 18th tees were entrances to lead mines descending hundreds of feet.

Holywell GC built its initial course in 1906 on land from the dominant local landowners, the Grosvenor’s, whose family was bestowed with the title of the Duke of Westminster by Queen Victoria in 1874.

Holywell is one of the highest courses in Wales with glorious views to the Clwydian Range and Snowdonia.

The original course was a nine-hole layout, extended to 18 holes in 1924, reverted post-war to a different nine-hole layout before finally in 1991 becoming the 18 holes that is played today. The course is flat but challenging thanks to its many natural hazards. Over the years the club has put considerable resources into greens’ improvement and due to the limestone sub-soil it proudly states that it never uses temporary greens.

Holywell GC is affiliated to the Golf Union of Wales and Union of Flintshire Golf Clubs and welcomes new players and juniors. Its coaching facilities include a state-of-the-art golf studio with video recording and projection managed by head professional Josh Charnock, a regular competitor in local PGA events and a previous winner of the Order of Merit in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

In keeping with its long and distinguished history the club has continued to evolve both on and off the course and it remains one of the most popular in the region.

The clubhouse is very welcoming and its catering is highly regarded. Functions such as Christenings, birthday parties, anniversaries, wedding receptions, funeral teas and Christmas parties are catered for.

It features a spacious, refurbished dining room with views over the course and across to the Clwydian range of hills. There is an outside area to enjoy the surroundings, which becomes very popular in good weather.

Other modernisations have included the recladding of the exterior in 2018, and refurbishment of its locker rooms by industry leader Ridgeway Furniture, which carried out a refit of both male and female changing rooms, installing new lockers and benches.

 

Carol Saunders, secretary manager at Holywell, said: “The locker rooms had got to the stage where they needed updating and we looked to see who could do the work. We selected Ridgeway Furniture and they did a fantastic job; the locker rooms look beautiful. I can certainly recommend Ridgeway.”

Since its inception Ridgeway has manufactured tens of thousands of lockers that have been installed in some of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world.

The company has seen turnover increase by more than 100 per cent over the past six years and has invested more than £500,000 in a new factory increasing its capacity by over 50 per cent. The facility, at more than 18,000 square feet, means the company is now the UK’s largest dedicated manufacturer of wooden lockers.

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire June 25, 2019 15:02
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