Saddleworth Golf Club was formed in May 1904 when a group of prominent local men and women met at the Mechanics Institute (now Civic Hall) in Uppermill and resolved to establish the club.
They moved incredibly quickly and within a week, they had accepted an offer to rent some rooms at Mountain Ash Farm and the adjacent parkland for 40 Guineas per year (plus a further £10 for fires and lights in the club rooms). By the end of June, a ‘committee of enquiry’ consisting of 3 doctors, 3 mill owners, a bank manager and a solicitor had agreed a lease on the land and appointed George Lowe (ex Carnoustie, St Andrews, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham & St Anne’s) to determine a lay-out for a course for the sum of 1 Guinea.
A General Meeting attended by 18 men and 11 ladies took place on July 6. The findings of the ‘committee of enquiry’ were presented and approved. A draft set of rules were approved and adopted and the Club was formally constituted by the election of Officers and Committee for 1904/05.
The first President was Mr J F Buckley, Captain was Dr. D Price, Honorary Treasurer was Mr W Ferns and the Honorary Secretary was Mr E W Rowbotham. The whole committee consisted of a further 11 men. The initial Entrance Fee was set at 1 Guinea and Annual Membership at £1-11- 6 (£1.57½).
July 13 saw the acceptance of a tender of £69 to lay out the course by Alex Gibson and August 3 saw the appointment of the first Groundsman/ Professional Peter Hudson (ex Pleasington GC) to commence in September. He, later, added the roles of caretaker and steward to his portfolio.
The course opened for play on October 1 1904 only 4 months after that initial meeting!
The first AGM took place on August 30 1905. Membership had already reached 88 plus 51 Lady Subscribers.
1908 saw the purchase of a pavilion from Oldham Golf Club to provide extra accommodation as men now numbered over 100. The new pavilion was opened on August 15 1908 by the President, Sidney Scott, at 2.30pm to be followed by a Mixed Foursome. A photograph of the event shows Sidney Stott driving off with the Lady Captain, Miss Selma Bradbury to the left and the club professional, Peter Hudson prepared to caddy. Club members are on the balcony and many young caddies are also to be seen. This photograph hangs in the club to this day.
After a few years, it was felt necessary to consider extending the course to 18 holes and a report was prepared by the famous golf course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie and W J Leaver. Dr MacKenzie was responsible for the design of Royal Melbourne, Augusta National, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach amongst many others. Their scheme was adopted on October 25 1913. Work commenced immediately and was almost complete when the First World War broke out in 1914. Delay was inevitable and the 18 hole course was not finally completed until 1922.
By 1922, membership had grown to 200 men and 100 ladies. Enough horse-drawn and hand-held greens equipment was now in place to discontinue the practice of grazing sheep on the fairways!
The Second World War and its aftermath caused a considerable slowing in development of the club and the course for financial reasons but by the 1960s the club had a new lease of life as male membership soared to 300 and on to 400 by the early 2000s and many new additions and improvements to the course, the clubhouse, the lounge and dining room, car park, practice and changing facilities have been incorporated during this time.
The Story of Saddleworth Golf Club, by the late Geoffrey Woodhead