Petersfield Golf Club was founded by Lothian Bonham-Carter and John Perkin on March 25, 1891. But finding proof to substantiate that fact has proved a puzzle which would tax the combined minds of Hercule Poirot and Inspector Morse.
The club itself has no records of those formative days, while The Golfing Annual – the sport’s ‘bible’ of the time – gives conflicting dates.
Two decades ago, even the historian of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews concluded that the limited information available pointed to a start date of May, 1892. All of which explains, understandably, why Petersfield Golf Club celebrated its centenary in 1992….only there should have been 101 candles on the cake that year.
The mystery of the club’s formation was eventually solved after poring over thousands of words printed in the musty, dog-eared pages of the Petersfield Weekly News at the old National Newspaper Library in Colindale, North London. And it would be an understatement to say the opening of Petersfield Golf Club was hardly headline news.
The first documented evidence of the club’s existence appears in the Petersfield Weekly News of May 6, 1891…and it is merely a passing reference hidden away in a report of Petersfield Cricket Club’s AGM. The article stated: “The next business was to consider an offer from the Petersfield Golf Club, in regard to the use of the pavilion, with roller and mowing machine. It was stated that many members of the Golf Club were also members of the Cricket Club, and therefore could not be refused the right of using the pavilion.
This fact, the Chairman suggested, should tend to reduce the charge to the Golf Club. The golf club’s offer of three guineas to use the cricket club’s facilities was duly accepted.
So there you have it. By May, 1891, Lothian Bonham-Carter and John Perkin – headmaster of Castle House School in the Square – had formally introduced golf to Petersfield. During the winter months of 1890-91, they laid out a nine-hole course on the northern part of the Heath – on land owned, and provided as a public recreation ground, by John Bonham-Carter, Lothian’s elder brother and Lord of the Manor of Mapledurham (the original name for the parish and manor of Buriton).