The earliest record of a golf club at Gorleston is on May 12th 1906 when it was listed in “Golfers Handbook” for 1906 – 7. There were 80 members.
The entry in Golfing Annual 1906 -7 reads “Gorleston Golf Club. Instituted May 12th 1906. Entrance fee £1.1s. Ladies 10/6d. Number of members 80.
The course of nine holes is within two minutes walk of Gorleston-on-Sea Station. Sunday play, visitors 1s6d a day, 2s a week, or 12s.6d a month.”
The Course stretched from Cliff Park Road (now Park Road) in the north to the borough in the south (now Yallop Avenue). The western boundary was the railway. Bridge Road at this time ended just over the bridge. The eastern boundary was Belle View Road (now Marine Parade).
By 1910 the corporation was warning that the land leased by the club, would soon be needed for building. The members began to look for new land and found some further south. By 1912 they had moved and begun on an eighteen hole course. The new course opened on May 10th 1913. The new course was 5700 yards long and went from just beyond Links Road to the north and as far south as two cottages in Hopton Village.
The new course was about 5700 yards long and went from just beyond Links Road to the north and as far as two cottages in Hopton Village. There were two cottages and a barn in the middle of the course. Near the barn was a gravel pit, possibly gravel. This pit is the hollow in front of the 17th green.
There had been many difficulties in the opening of the new course. There was a change of name from “Gorleston Cliffs Club” to “Gorleston-On-Sea Golf club”.
Then in August came the First World War and from 1914 – 18 there was no golf on the East Coast.
In 1925 the land which had been ploughed up was given up by the smallholders and George Vince took it over and managed to finish a shortened version of the original eighteen hole layout.
It was at this time that Sir John Drughorn Bart rented one of Mr Thomas’ bungalows for a month. Then he decided to buy two plots of land next to Mr James’ house and build his own bungalow. This was demolished in the 1990’s and three houses built there, one of them is called “The Hazard”.
Sir John Drughorn then negotiated on behalf of the British Continental Estates Ltd to buy the course from Mr Thomas.
The club was beginning to make progress. Plans had been going ahead for improvement of the course. On Saturday May 12th 1934 the new course was sopened. Changes had been made. The course was now 6000 yards long, had five new greens, new bunkers andtrees planted.
In May 1937 Sir John Drughorn suggested that the members take over the management of the club and he would grant them a lease of twenty-one years from the 1st May 1938.
In November the course was bought by Mr H Pointer, a Norwich builder. Mr Pointer died and on March 25th the course was bought by the Farnfield family’s company, Link Estate.
By the end of April 1948 the 36 acres of the course had had the greens seeded, also large areas of the fairways including the anti-tank trench and the short paths to the twelfth and seventeenth by Mr Bullock.
In October a bombshell fell. The twenty-one year lease was due to expire on the May 11th 1959 and the owner of the club would not be renewing the lease.
On Thursday 2nd January 1959 at the Norwich County Court the judge reserved his decision until 9th January so that both parties could negotiate. The judge then granted the club a further five year lease.
In February 1960 East Suffolk County Council wished to know the club’s attitude to the compulsory purchase of the course by the council when the present lease expired to keep it as an open space.
A very worrying year for the club followed. Mr King had said he would not renew the lease again when it expired on May 1st 1964. Then in October the East Suffolk County Council stepped in and said they would purchase, compulsorily if necessary, 103 acres of Gorleston Golf Course. They were supported by Great Yarmouth Council in their wish to save it as an open space.
In January 1962 Great Yarmouth Borough Council agreed that East Suffolk County Council should make the Compulsory Purchase Order and they would support them.
In July Raymond King served on the club a notice to quit on the expiration of the lease.
Early in 1964 Jack Boon and Eric Millichamp went to London to see counsel. The fate of the club was decided in the County Court at Yarmouth on March 6th. They were granted a new ten year lease of the club at a rent of £375 a year.
In October the golf club committee had the first thought of buying the course themselves and approached Mr King to purchase the land. He said the course was not on the market but they could make another other. They offered £18,000.
The Special General meeting on the Saturday 15th January 1966 was told that the landlord had had an offer of £25,000. Mr Hatch felt the club should make an offer of £27,000 subject to contract.
Raymond King realised that he was not going to get planning permission for a yacht marina or any of his plans for the land, agreed to sell. He set a time of seven days for the signing of the contract.
On the twelfth of August 1967 the course and the clubhouse was bought by the members.
At the AGM in 1997 the members agreed that the club makes every endeavour to purchase new land to develop. At the Special Meeting in June 1998 the members agreed that the club should purchase from Norfolk County Council approximately sixty acres of land to the west of the 13th hole.
We intend to seek ways of preserving and improving the ecology of the course for future generations. More attention should be given to the environment so that we encourage wildlife, birds and fauna and flora, and that we should work with authoritative bodies, such as the RSPB and Forrestry Commission to see how we can make our course more attractive to nature and for the future members to enjoy.
In conclusion it is seen as our obligation to the members of the past to preserve the course and the club for the members of the future.