Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club
Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club

Few clubs have as much right to the Royal prefix as Mid Surrey. Its historic connections with Royalty go back to Plantagenet times, Henry V built a monastery where the 14th and 15th Outer holes are now played and George III grazed his sheep over the whole of the Old Deer Park.

The steps he used to return to his home in what is now Kew Gardens  still exist on the right of the Outer 7th, and the Observatory - on the right of the 14th - was built for him. Queen Elizabeth the First died in a palace which once stood on these historic links.

Modern Royalty bestowed royal status on the club in 1926 when the then Prince of Wales was captain and it was a cousin of Queen Victoria, the second Duke of Cambridge, who was the club's first president.

Mid-Surrey - so named because it was on the edge of both Middlesex and Surrey - was founded on St Crispin's Day, October 24 in 1892. At that time the whole stretch of land was so flat that a writer on The Field described the course as having 'an insufficiency of undulations' while the Times correspondent Bernard Darwin was outspoken in using the phrase 'flat as a pancake'.

It was the club's first famous professional J. H. Taylor - five times winner of the Open - who began making the Outer course more interesting. He and the greenkeeper Peter Lees, who had been lured from the Royal Burgess club in Edinburgh, led about 100 men recruited from the ranks of unemployed to create the 'humps and hollows' which gave the course its distinctive character.

Mountains of earth were dug out and built up and the professional claimed that many visitors came vast distances to study this aspect of golf course architecture and one distinguished visitor remarked that he could imagine himself on a Scottish links looking towards a backdrop of dunes. Lees left in 1915 for America where he laid out and maintained five courses in New York.

J. H. Taylor stayed much longer - until 1946 when he handed over to another professional destined for Open success. Henry Cotton had won the Championship at Royal St George's in 1934 when his total of 283 included one round of 65 made famous by Dunlop launching a ball with that figure as a brand name - the Dunlop 65. Cotton won again at Carnoustie in 1937 and at Muirfield in 1948.

The next winner of the Open - at Royal Portrush in 1951 - with Royal Mid Surrey connections was Max Faulkner. He had been an assistant to Cotton  and occupied the professional's job between Cotton's departure and Jimmy Adams returning from Australia in 1952.

Jimmy was not an Open winner but was second in two - 1936 and 1938 - and he had an impressive Ryder Cup record. Like many sportsmen, his career was blighted by World War II.

Jimmy left in 1969 when David Talbot joined from Hollinwell, the Nottingham club. David bought prestige to the club in a different way from his predecessors. He won the PGA championship in 1968 and became its captain in 1979. At the end of his year he became president of the World PGA Federation. He remained as professional for 47 years until 1999 when his son Philip took over.

In its early days, the course was the scene of several famous tournaments beginning with the old News of the World matchplay championship in 1904 when a crowd of 2,000 watched the final. The English Championship was held there in 1946, the PGA championship in 1961 and 1968 and the Boys' Championship in 1962 and again in the centenary year of 1992.

In the 1980s it staged the Equity and Law for all the years of that tournament's existence.

The long lived tournaments, however, have been amateur events and the oldest and still held regularly at the club is the Mothers and Daughters which began in 1932 as an event for Veteran Ladies and their offspring. In 1962 the age limit was removed and the tournament has continued to flourish ever since.

A year after the Mothers and Daughters began, the Antlers arrived. This was - and still is - a 36 hole foursomes medal event which has been won by many famous names: Crawley, Micklem, Beharrel, Bonallack, Carr (J.B. and R), Critchley, Hughesdon, Davies (J and P) and not least Michael Lunt who became the club secretary in 1987.

The club was also the setting for the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase, an event often played on the Saturday preceding the Antlers on Sunday and both used by budding Walker Cup hopefuls to catch the eye of the selectors.

All these people, events and memorabilia were illustrated and commemorated in a wonderful and much admired display of portraits, pictures and trophies in the old clubhouse which was destroyed along with all the contents in a fire in March 2001.

The Royal connection was evident once again in November 2003 when the Duke of York opened the new and much grander clubhouse.

Captains since 1892
Review our list of club captains since 1892
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