Our golfing history

Our golfing history

This week’s #MyLocalMuseum theme is ‘sport’ and we are sharing photographs from our local history archive of Sefton’s golfing history.

The promise of sea air and a rest cure attracted the unwell to Sefton. In the 1860s, mayor Samuel Boothroyd called for Southport to be advertised as a place of resort for invalid visitors and the town became a resort for Leisure and pleasure.

Golf courses now cover over a quarter of Sefton’s sand dunes systems and have helped to protect rare plant and animal species. The courses were mostly founded between 1870s and 1930s, when golf as a sport was growing in popularity and accessibility. The clubs across Sefton have earned widespread recognition within the sport. They have hosted many major tournaments, national and international, amateur and professional, including The Rider Cup and the Open Championship. More recently, local sports hero Tommy Fleetwood has won the European Tour five times and hosted the British masters at Hillside.

The first women’s golf championship had been held at Lytham & St Annes Ladies Golf Club in 1893.  These are competitors in the 1909 championship at Birkdale Links.

Mrs Gwen Ainsworth in 1912 and Lady Coley Wales, practicing their formidable swings.

A young Robert ‘Bobby’ Halsall in 1930 and much later pictured with the Fyles brothers. Halsall took his first full-time role at Royal Birkdale as assistant professional in 1928. The 76th Open Championship was due to be played at the links for the first time in 1940. The event was of course cancelled, and the Second World War began. Halsall joined the First Battalion of The Cheshire Regiment but made it home safely and returned to his role at the club in time for the 1946 British Amateur Championship.

Golf’s popularity only grew and became bigger business for the area as wee can see from the crowds at the 1951 Walker Cup presentation.

Lady members of Royal Birkdale Golf Club in 1955.

The 18th Ryder Cup Matches in 1969 were marred by considerable animosity and unsportsmanlike behaviour by players on both sides. However, the competition ended in a tie at 16 points each, when America’s Jack Nicklaus conceded a missable three-foot putt to Britain’s Tony Jacklin at the 18th hole. This became one of the most famous gestures of sportsmanship in all of sport at the time and was the first tie in Ryder Cup history.

Our local history museum, Between Land & Sea, tells the stories of the people who have lived and worked along Sefton’s coast. Plan your visit here.

Links to individual Clubs telling their own Histories:
Bootle Golf ClubWest Lancashire Golf ClubFormby Golf ClubSouthport and Ainsdale Golf ClubHesketh Golf ClubRoyal Birkdale Golf Club.

Written by Jenny Cope, Museum Futures Trainee

Posted on 16 March 2021 under General news, Museum

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