THE HISTORY OF READING GOLF CLUB
Started in 1910
Reading in 1910 had a nine-hole golf course, in Tilehurst, which had adopted the title of “The Reading Golf Club”.
That club had been founded at the close of the nineteenth century and so when the decision to form a new 18 hole course at Emmer Green was made, it was decided to call the new club “The Caversham and South Oxfordshire Golf Club”.
The old course ceased to exist at the end of the First World War and our present name was adopted in 1939.
The founding fathers were a group of business and professional men. An important factor in their decision to start the club was the likely increase in the value of building land in the vicinity that would result. Many illustrious names were included in the steering committee and in the founding membership but the dynamic force required to bring the plans to fruition was supplied by a Reading solicitor Arthur Hugh Sherwood. The pre-eminent part he played in the formation of the club is commemorated by a trophy in his name.
An Exhibition Match in 1920
The Club In 1963
A Disaster Struck
In the 1930’s the members complained that the course Braid designed was too physically demanding and a complete reorganisation was undertaken to the design of yet another eminent architect, Phillip Mackenzie Ross. The course underwent significant alterations in the ensuing years but Ross’s imprint remained dominant. A disaster struck the club in 1963 when the clubhouse burnt down.
A temporary structure was erected in its place before further improvements and an extension was added in 1970. The club continued to make improvements and the members enjoyed fine course conditions on a course that was loved by many.
Sadly a dramatic drop in the number of golfers in the UK after the turn of the century saw the club face new financial pressures and despite many initiatives to attract new members, the club was not equipped to meet the demands of the modern golfer. The Emmer Green course was renowned for it’s conditioning during the summer months but with newer courses offering better all year round conditions and more extensive practice facilities the Board of Directors decided to revisit plans to sell the 1st and 18th holes. Unfortunately opposition to plans for the course to be extended out into South Oxfordshire prevented viable plans for the club to remain in Emmer Green. Investigations then turned into selling the land and for the club to relocate. In September 2018 the members voted with an 83% majority to relocate the club. This was not without controversy but in January 2019 it was announced that the club would relocate to the course formerly known as Caversham Heath Golf Club and land at Emmer Green would be sold for development.
The Club’s most successful lady golfer. She was the England Girls Champion in 1997 and was in the GB & Ireland Team in 2003 and 2004. She won the New Zealand Open Women’s Amateur Champion in 2003 and was in the GB & Commonwealth Team in 2003. She was the British Ladies Stroke Play Champion 2003 and played in the Curtis Cup in 2004.
Thomas McBroom, a world renowned Golf Course Architect from Canada was appointed to design course improvements and Mark Ely from Ely Golf Ltd would be responsible for the groundworks. This work commenced in May 2019 and the new layout, despite delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, opened for play on 1st April 2021.
Born 1950, Michael is the Club’s most successful male golfer. He won the Club Championship at the age of 14, won the Lytham Trophy in 1973 and played in the Walker Cup player in 1969 and 1973. After turning Professional in 1974 he finished 5th in the European Order of Merit and played in the Ryder Cup of 1979. He also won the European Tour Players Championship.
The 18 hole Emmer Green course closed for play the previous evening with the Captain John Rusby and Ladies Captain Linda Harris, their respect Vice-Captains Ian Wallace and Charlie Keenan joined by Honorary Members Charles Tennant and Ken Ward having the final putts.
A 9-Hole course which incorporates part of the old Emmer Green layout is still open for public play and also offers Footgolf and Disc Golf and “Fairways Family Golf Centre” has fast become a very popular facility.
The new facility was re-branded “The Caversham, Home of Reading Golf Club” and clubhouse renovations commenced in September 2022 with plans to take the club to a new level of offering with ambitions to be one of the premier clubs in the South of England. The new clubhouse offers a range of services and includes a “fitness suite” for members to use but the jewel is a magnificent south-west facing balcony offering beautiful views and ambience on a summer’s evening.
Reading Golf Club
Reading Golf Club now has an exciting future ahead of itself at it’s new home. Already there are plans in place for major championships to be hosted, worthy recognition for a wonderful club and we look forward to the next chapters to be written in our history with great anticipation.