The history of Boyce Hill Golf & Country Club (3)

The original course

18th green with the Clubhouse in the background (2022)
Nigel Pyle
BHGC 18th green - date unknown
Francis Frith

The original eighteen-hole golf course laid out by “Joe” Steel, the Rochford Hundred professional, made use of the terrain in a manner similar to the course we know today except that a few of the holes went in the opposite direction plus some totally different holes and the land now used as a reservoir was part of the course.

The First Hole was basically as today, crossing a ditch, now partly filled-in to make a hollow to the right of the pond and a strip of fairway, and the public footpath. The Second hole tee was positioned near to the third green and one played a shortish par four hole uphill to a green where the reservoir is now situated. A short walk downhill to the corner of the bushes at the top of the hill on the present Second Hole fairway found the third tee, playing a hole downhill to a green beyond the present Second Hole green and nearer to Benfleet High Road.

Walking up the present Third Hole fairway near to the first grass bunker one came upon the Fourth Hole tee, leading to an uphill short hole of 130 yards played to a green near to the Fourth Hole green today. The Fifth Hole tee position was as we know today, but the “par six” hole of 500 yards was played over the hill, with a half-turn to the right, to a green to the right of the ditch and near to the present Eighth Hole green.

The Sixth Hole was as today except that the tee was positioned near to today’s Fifth Hole green making a straighter hole than the dogleg played at the present time. It must be appreciated that many of the trees we have today were either non-existent or of no size nearly eighty years ago, whilst the many elm trees we lost in the 1970 “Dutch Elm Disease” period were the main hazards of Boyce Hill. The Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Holes were similar to our present layout apart from the Ninth Hole green position.

We have now reached the “turn” and the Tenth and Eleventh Holes were similar to those of later years. The Twelfth Hole was originally a straight “Bogey Five”, the tee being at the top of the hill giving a hole of 500 yards downhill and eventually approaching over a ditch to a green, which we now know as the Fifteenth Hole green. The Thirteenth Hole was a short hole of 140 yards played from a tee in front of the present Fifteenth Green to the green we now know as the Fourteenth. The Fourteenth Hole was played in the opposite direction to the present hole, the green being sited where the present Fourteenth ladies tee now stands.

The Fifteenth Hole basically ran in the opposite direction to the present Thirteenth Hole, from a tee situated to the east side of the present Thirteenth Hole green, in an area now covered by bushes but still used in winter time up to the 1960’s as a temporary tee for the Fourteenth Hole, playing downhill to a green short of the ditch in front of the present Thirteenth Tees. The Sixteenth Hole, of only 320 yards, started as now but ended at a green near to the top end of the left hand ditch and to the right of the Oak Tree still standing. The Seventeenth Hole was a short hole played over a number of Elm trees, and known as the “Six Tree Hole”, from a tee short of the bushes at the top of the hill on our Sixteenth Hole fairway, near to the temporary green used in winter conditions, to a green positioned by the present Sixteenth Hole green.

One then climbed to the present Seventeenth Hole fairway for a finishing Eighteenth Hole of some 465 yards. The tee appears to have been near to the present Seventeenth Hole “Cadets” tee and one then played towards an unwooded hill beyond and to the right of the present Seventeenth Hole green. The Eighteenth Green was placed on an area where the present practice putting green is situated.

The above history has been reproduced from the official Boyce Hill Golf Club website.

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