This is a transcription of a conversation Ken had with Graham Lawrence and Brian Lewis on 30 October 2007.
At the beginning of the twentieth century there were four private golf courses owned by landed gentry within the Droxford Rural District Council boundaries. The Ordnance Survey maps of 1908 record their location at Shedfield Common, Droxford Down, Chidden Holt (north of Hambledon) and at Preshaw. In the years following the First World War only one remained, that of Corhampton on Droxford Down. Today, with the exception of the remains of the Pavilion at Shedfield (in Biddenfield Lane) there is little evidence of their existence, I knew very well an elderly lady in the 1970’s who informed me she caddied for the Franklin family on Turkey Island (Shedfield Golf Course) just before the First World War but of Preshaw and Chidden Holt I have no knowledge.
Corhampton Golf Course, on Droxford Down, survived the Second World War through the good offices of one R P Chester. Mr Chester, a client of mine, purchased the Warnford Estate in 1936. His Farm Manager was one Charles Lock, who was a member of the Club until his death in 1996 at the age of 102. He never joined the Seniors and, up to the age of 85, invariably did the eighteen holes, gross, at less than his age. R P, as he was known, was appointed Chairman of the Hampshire War Agricultural Executive Committee at the outbreak of war with authority and directive to utilise every acre of land for the war effort. Through him and his manager, Charles Lock, the course survived and it is said that in grateful thanks, at the conclusion of hostilities and resumption of golf, he was made President of the Club, with the understanding that he and his son would be Honorary Life Members. Regretfully, in later years, his son was not recognised as holding that privilege and, in consequence, the son, Rex, ceased playing golf at Corhampton. I truly believe the old records of the Club were probably in the custody of his father and despite enquiries of Charles Lock’s successor, Peter Short, the truth of their whereabouts may never be ascertained.
|I joined as a full member of Corhampton Golf Club in May 1961, following a long probationary period when I was permitted to play from late in 1960 with then members from Fareham, Bill Jeffery, Philip Denham-Jones and his son Mark. Prior to this I had no car and, in consequence, the travelling from my home village in North Boarhunt was very difficult. I had no formal lessons – at that time we had no professional at Corhampton, and it was a nine hole course described in the Fareham Guide of 1961 as ‘a very attractive nine-hole course, north of Fareham, on Corhampton Down’. There was a very happy-go-lucky atmosphere and the attitude seemed to be one where ‘he looks as though he can play golf and he has behaved himself as a guest, so he can join’. In those days, one Reg Reeves and his wife looked after a very small clubhouse and Reg maintained the nine holes to a high standard. By 1971 my handicap was fourteen and has gone up gradually ever since!|
Ken’s bag tag
I had two aunts who were members of the Club in the late 1920’s onwards – Aunt Edith Bloomfield, who farmed at Offwell Farm, Southwick, and until she acquired a Sunbeam motor car, arrived for golf in her pony and trap. Her sister, Aunt Grace Johns travelled with her – she and her husband were in business in Fareham. They both enjoyed their golf at Corhampton, particularly on Tuesdays during the cricket season, when only seven holes were in play for golf. The wicket square was where the second green now is and close by was the cricket pavilion – a corrugated iron construction which survived until the late 1970’s after the course became eighteen holes. Aunt Edith died in the 1950’s – her ashes were scattered very close to the second tee, and Aunt Grace, who died (at Kings Cross Station) emigrating to Scotland at the age of 92, had her ashes scattered on the second fairway. The attraction of golf on Tuesday for the ladies was that they partook of tea with the cricketers! The second tee and its hawthorns are known affectionately by my family as Aunties’ Bottom.
Aunt Edith driving to Corhampton
After Reg Reeves’ death, his wife continued her association with the Club and our first ‘real’ professional was appointed – he was Ron Crockford. Ron remained with the Club to see it become an eighteen hole course with the construction by Fred Ranting of a real clubhouse. By this time, many of the older members were passing on, and by the 1980’s the Club bore no resemblance with the earlier days I had known. I still played regularly very early on Sunday mornings but by then my earlier companions, Bill Jeffery and Leslie Rawles had died, and the Denham-Jones no longer played at Corhampton. John Browning, an old friend, with Ray Goode and Graham Bell, made up our foursome and we enjoyed our golf and the hilarious times we created.
We were permitted to start golf on Sunday mornings at the time we arranged between ourselves. No lady golfers appeared to be present, except a Mrs McNeil and her husband, and many a time on a really dark Sunday morning we teed off with nine irons, all listening to determine where the ball may have landed. In retrospect, the playing weather has improved over the years – in 1962/63 heavy snow fell and members of the club came out to find us on the course. That was the year when snow, which lay level with the hedges, prevented us from playing for four to five weeks. When the clubhouse was constructed, a bungalow for the professional was also built. The professional, Ron Crockford, at the time had a wooden hut for his golf shop – it was burgled several times.
Before the clubhouse was extended, social functions were held at the Curzon Rooms, Waterlooville, and Kimbells in Southsea. We also held, on several occasions, our Club annual general meetings in a large hall in Bishops Waltham, which reflected the increase in our membership, together with changing attitudes! My own golf has been mediocre. I truly believe throughout my forty-six years of membership the friendship and companionship of fellow golfers has been the highlights of my regular visits to Corhampton. With advancing years, this is particularly true of my association with the Seniors Section.
In earlier days I did in 1971 win the Reeves Trophy with Mark Denham-Jones (he became Club Champion round about that time) and had a memorable entry on my card in the Stableford to mark the opening of the eighteen hole course. On the sixteenth I had a two (for five points) spoilt somewhat by Peter Reeves (Reg’s son) who was responsible for recording the entries, telephoning to say I had a mistake on my card, should it not be a five for two points!
About five or six years ago I was playing one Friday morning at 7.15am with John Browning and another senior member, recently departed, Tony Canessa. It was wet. I parred the first hole and moved to the second tee where I had the honour. I hit an excellent drive, but during the upswing the club came out of my hand and flew backwards over the hedge. There was a lot of traffic on the road and fortuitously the club did not hit any of the vehicles. I heard it land and eventually endeavoured to get out of the course to go to get my club, but it was nigh on impossible. I had to make my way to the end of the fourth fairway to get through the hedge and when I got to where my club had landed, it had gone. One of our senior members, Bob Day, said he had seen it flying in the air, but he didn’t see it land, nor did he see anyone walk off with it.
In 1995, two years after joining the Seniors Section, I became its Secretary and still hold the office today. I organise the social activities incorporating golf, arrange each year’s complete programme including fixtures with other clubs and record the minutes and answer all the correspondence. With over a hundred members, sixty of which are active and often play on a Wednesday morning, I find little time to play golf these days. We hold eight or nine committee meetings throughout the year and, despite our age, are a very active progressive looking bunch.
Although I am in my eighty-first year, I still practice part-time as a Chartered Accountant, and for my sins, I am also honorary auditor to the Ladies Section and get involved indirectly with a lot of the senior members’ problems. This last year has been our fortieth anniversary year and we had the good fortune to hold a centenary Stableford on 1st August 2007 to which the son of our founder, Sid Parrett, a Mr Ken Parrett, came to talk to us. Our Seniors Open Event in July each year is a somewhat grand affair and this year, for the first time, we had a lady Senior Captain from Cams Hall Estate Golf Club participating. To conclude our annual activities, we hold a Christmas lunch and a Shotgun to which the notable of the Club are invited, together with as many of our senior members who are able to participate. For some years now, I have taken up a position in the middle of the course and started everyone off with my twelve-bore shotgun! If and when I do retire as Secretary to the Seniors Section, I hope to pick up my clubs again and play a little more often than I am doing at present.