Remembering Seaton Golf Club

Open Champion Alf Padgham graced Seaton Golf Club

Open Champion Alf Padgham graced Seaton Golf Club - Credit:

In last week’s article on Norman Borrett, I mentioned that his portrait hung in the gallery of the Seaton squash court, part of  Seaton Golf Club.   
Though the clubhouse, now the Tower Filling Station, still stands, the course is long since gone. The squash court has been converted to accommodation as have other local courts at Chideock, Charmouth and Weston. 
I am indebted to the website Missing Links which quotes from a booklet issued in1935, describing  the course as: ‘Of a most interesting character, no two holes are alike, each green having been modelled to suit the run of the ground.  There are many natural features of which the genius of Colt, Alison and Morisson golf course architects, have taken full advantage. The clubhouse to which a Billiard Room has been added is in the modern architectural style and overlooks the whole of the course. 
The Squash Rackets Court adjoining the Clubhouse is up to full championship requirements with a balcony for spectators, also hot and cold showers. 
Since quality speaks for itself, little need to be said in praise of this superb course. To mention that Messrs Colt, Alison and Morrison are the architects, well known in this branch of architecture, is sufficient in itself.   
Whatever handicap they possess, every golfer is amply rewarded by the magnificent scenery as one reaches the “turn”. The view of the Axe Valley, from mouth to source, cannot help but please the eye of all who see it from this position: no finer view exists’. 
The course was 6,200 yards, very long compared to the average course in 1935 with a par of 73. It was good enough to attract the 1936 Open Champion Alf Padgham, who returned a 73 during an exhibition match. 
Like many golf courses, the outbreak of WWII caused Seaton Golf Club to revert to farm land for vital food production. Along with eight other Devonshire courses, the club did not reopen after things returned to normal.  
As a boy, I knew several former members of Seaton Golf Club who told me the reason the course had been established was that Miss Stephens, owner of the Stedcombe Estate, including the land on which the neighbouring Axe Cliff Golf Club was built, would not allow golf to be played on Sundays. 
She lifted this restriction after the war.   
This was not uncommon, some courses did allow Sunday golf but caddies were forbidden, those of a religious bent thinking it ungodly to work on the Sabbath. From the outset, Seaton Golf Club welcomed Sunday play. 
Golf’s Missing Links records some competition results. Miss M O Williams, presented a Rose Bowl, she also presented the September Bowl at Lyme Regis Golf Club.  Several members featuring in competition results were known to me.   
Patrick Branigan QC, knighted in the 1954 Honours’ List, the one-time Attorney General and Minister of Justice for the Gold Coast, won his match 4 & 3 playing against Honiton. He later became President of Lyme Regis Golf Club.  
In the same match, Jack Lorton, who kept the pharmacy in Queen Street, won his game 2 up but Willy Akerman, who established the well-known Ironmonger’s in Fore Street, was beaten by the same score.   
Another player featuring in the Cock of The Green Trophy was our family doctor, Harold Smart, who played off an impressive 5 handicap.  He practised from his rather splendid house in Fore Street, Netherhayes, now a care home.   
Those were the days when doctors usually ran their practice from their homes, often without the assistance of a receptionist.   
George Trevett was runner up in a medal competition with a net 74 off a handicap of 18. Longer-time residents of Seaton will recall he ran a rather splendid car show room in what is now The Factory Shop. The service centre was on the opposite side of Station, now Harbour, Road. 
In the current situation, one wonders how many other courses might cease to exist post Covid-19. 

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