Golf Life: Bognor Regis Golf Club
PUBLISHED: 00:16 12 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:16 20 February 2013
Clive Agran is touring Sussex golf courses. This month he visits Bognor Regis where the club played its part in Britain's wartime defences
Bognor Regis Golf Club was founded in 1892. It has subsequently moved twice and has been where it is now since since 1922. Two very famous names in golf were responsible for the layout and construction of the existing 18-hole course; James Braid, who won the British Open no fewer than five times, designed it and F G Hawtree, whose descendants are still constructing courses, built it.
The ceremonial opening of the impressive new course took place on 30 June 1923. James Braid thumped fellow professional Alec Herd six and five in an exhibition match in front of 300 spectators.
The Clubs steady progress was interrupted by the Second World War when an anti-aircraft gun was located between the 1st and the 18th holes, piles were driven into the fairways to prevent enemy aircraft from landing, the course was shortened to 12 holes and the Home Guard took over the ladies locker room.
A couple of curious local rules were introduced. In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for causing undue delay, though a player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb or shell, or by machine-gun fire, may play another ball from the same position with a one stroke penalty. The other emergency rule concerned shell or bomb splinters on the greens which could be removed without penalty.
Famous professionals including Henry Cotton, Neil Coles and Eric Brown paired up in a 1960s Pro-Am with such notable celebrities as Sean Connery, David Coleman and Bruce Forsyth. And the club hosted its first major professional tournament in May 1972 when it staged the John Player Trophy, a qualifying competition for Europes then richest tournament, the 51,000 John Player Classic. The event attracted a strong international field including Peter Oosterhuis, Christie OConnor, Jack Newton, Brian Barnes, Max Faulkner and Manuel Ballesteros.
The club, which has an enviable reputation for friendliness, is flourishing and has about 500 members who enjoy a delightful parkland course that is as easy on the feet as it is on the eye.