The founding fathers of our Golf Club at its Rothwell Haigh location were Mr Harry Howell, Mr Frederick J Brown and Mr J Pratt. All three were businessmen of some substance and local standing. The three friends wished to play their golf at a location nearer to their places of work on the south side of the city. At that time South Leeds was the industrial heartland of the city and no such facility existed or had even been considered.
The three men hit upon the idea of renting one or two fields upon which they would construct a few rudimentary holes over which they could indulge their passion for golf. In the year 1906 the three friends found what we now think to be Rose Cottage Farm at Rothwell Haigh on the outskirts of the city. They rented a couple of fields from the farmer and constructed a rather basic but functional few golf holes.
Being businessmen our founding fathers came to an accommodation regarding the rent. Initially a basic rent for the land acquired was agreed. Any rent increase was to be based upon the number of members of the club and persons playing the course. These numbers would correlate to the amount of land that would be required to extend the golf course to accommodate them.
A New Home
The directors of the company were charged with the duty of negotiating with the Low Moor Company Limited. Their efforts resulted in the company securing the tenancy of Parkside Farm and Top Parkside Farm Gypsy Lane Leeds 11.
Due to the links like nature of the contours and the pasture of the property the golf club adopted the name Parkside Links Gypsy Lane Leeds 11. This was to be our home address for the next hundred years.
It is believed that the two properties had previously been farmed as one and as a result the farmhouse and out buildings of Parkside Farm had fallen down due to lack of maintenance. The original buildings of Parkside Farm were located on land in the close proximity to the 15th green.
Top Park side Farm consisted of three separate buildings. The Farmhouse to the left of which was a Stable block (Green keepers Shed) and immediately in front to the farmhouse was a large barn (The Car Park).
In 1915 the Club applied for and was granted planning permission to construct a wooden extension to the farmhouse that was to be used as the clubhouse with the farmhouse then becoming the stewards quarters.
The barn was used as the men’s changing rooms and was equipped with an indoor driving net. The net however not unlike the barn roof contained more than the odd hole. Any member foolish enough to strike his ball into the net with unbridled ferocity quickly came to realise the error of his ways.
He also encountered a potentially painful and dangerous problem. His fiercely struck golf ball quickly adopted all the properties of a high-speed unguided missile. The ball would penetrate the net, strike the wall of the barn and proceeded to ricochet around the room at an alarming rate. Any golfer not quick on his feet that failed to avoid a meeting with his own ball sustained a painful and embarrassing injury.
The long-suffering male members even had to share their changing facilities with the odd rat or two. Imagine if you will, dawn on a cold winter’s day in the gloom of the old barn, coming face to face with a rat. Doesn’t it set your nerve ends jangling in alarm?
Dr Alistair MacKenzie
The first change to the original layout of our golf course occurred in the year 1922 and was due to the construction of the Middleton Ring Road. The Leeds City Council took the decision to route the Middleton section of the new city Ring Road right through the middle of our beloved golf course. By way of compensation for the disruption the council on 31 st December 1922 paid to South Leeds Golf Club £750-0s-0d which was not an inconsiderable amount of money at that time. South Leeds Golf Club owes the Leeds City Council of that era a huge debt of gratitude for their actions.
The construction of the new Ring Road had the effect of cutting the golf course in three sections much to the displeasure of the membership at that time. It was apparent that the course would require major reconstruction following the intrusion of the Ring Road.
For this purpose the directors engaged the services of Dr Alister MacKenzie to design a series of new holes to replace holes lost or flawed due to the road construction. The British Golf Course Construction Company who’s Managing Directors was Major CA MacKenzie (the brother of Alister) was engaged to carry out the work subject to Dr MacKenzie’s supervision.
Dr Alister MacKenzie was born in 1870 and died in 1934 and was responsible for the design of about 100 golf courses worldwide. Augusta, Royal Melbourne and Cyprus Point are but a few of his golf courses that spring readily to mind.
Building for the Future
We step forward in time to the year 1975. This year heralds the beginning of a number of major changes to the facilities of the golf club. The first of these was the infamous locker rooms. The legendary barn was demolished and a car park constructed in its stead. Also the ladies and gentlemen’s locker rooms were erected at a cost to the club of only £36,000. Club members who gave of their time and skills in order that costs could be kept within manageable proportions undertook much of the work on the locker rooms.
A brief reference was made earlier in this book to the unstinting generosity of some of the early members of South Leeds Golf Club. We proudly point out that that spirit of generosity exists in no small measure to this day.
The members involved in constructing the locker rooms are in most cases still members of the golf club at the time of writing. I have not identified them and am certain that they would not wish me to do so. The work they did was for the collective good of their golf club.
These persons neither requested nor sought any form of thanks or acknowledgement. I do hope they each allow a brief smile of self-satisfaction to spread across their face if and when they read this section of the book.
Things moved on a pace in comparison to out first sixty-nine years. The next addition to the facilities of the clubhouse was the construction of the member’s lounge.
The lounge (now the television room) was constructed two short years later in 1977 at a cost of £18,000. The new lounge was a welcome addition to our facilities as during this period the social side of the club was still thriving and the envy of some more prestigious neighbours in the city.
The task of upgrading the golf club facilities was completed in the year 1982 by the opening of the new clubhouse. The old wooden hut was demolished and in its place the clubhouse rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The cost of construction was prohibitive amounting to some £110,000