Strawberry Hill had a modest beginning over 120 years ago. In 1900 Chiswick Golf Club was sold for development and six Strawberry Hill residents who often played at Chiswick had to find an alternative place to play.
One of them, Henry Robert Fargus, lived at Milton House in Wellesley Road (site of the current Milton Court). Behind this house lay 27 acres of grassland with a brook, trees and stables with grooms’ quarters. They approached the landowners, the Freake Estate Company, who gave permission to play golf there. Although there were some natural hazards, with no bunkers they improvised with sheep hurdles stretched across the ‘fairways’ and made holes in the ground as there were no greens.
Within a couple of years, an agreement to lease the land as a golf club was reached, the stables were turned into a kitchen and bar and the grooms’ quarters had become a locker room. JH Taylor, a five-times winner of the Open Championship who was the first president of the Professional Golf Association, was engaged to advise on the course layout. So the nine-hole, parkland golf course at Strawberry Hill was established.
Gradually, under Taylor’s guidance, they transformed the area into a playable nine-hole course, and then secured a lease from the Freake Estate Company to use the land as a golf course.
In November 1902 contracts were formally signed with the Freake Estate granting an annual lease to the Club.
The entry for the Club in the Golfing Annual of 1902-3 lists a total of 180 members (115 Men and 65 Ladies) and records that the first Professional, Ernest Newbery, had been appointed. Entrance Fees were three guineas for gentlemen and two guineas for ladies and annual subscriptions were two guineas and one guinea, respectively. Visitors could play for 1s. per day.
In 1910 consent was obtained from the Trustees of the Freake Estate and the District Council for the construction of a temporary wood and corrugated iron club room in front of the club house and later that year the building work was completed at a total cost of around £260.
In the early days of 1911 caddies charged up to a shilling per round and the professional charged two shillings per hour for lessons. By this time the annual subscription for gentlemen had risen to three guineas.
The club enjoyed a healthy social life with whist and bridge playing and social evenings. The men’s annual smoking concert was also a great success.
The Club’s lease was renewed annually until 1927 when the Freake Estate sold the land to the Metropolitan Police. From then until March 1936, when the course was purchased jointly by Middlesex County Council, Twickenham Borough Council and Teddington Urban District Council, the Club had little security of tenure and was under constant threat of eviction.
After a very tight financial period during the Second World War, the Club began to flourish again, and was affiliated to the Middlesex County Golf Union in 1946.
Our 50th Anniversary was celebrated in style on 24 July 1950. As well as the triumphal entry of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies' Captains standing in the back of an old car used for drawing the mowers, games of mixed three-legged races and wool ball putting competitions were enjoyed, followed by a supper and dancing in the evening.
The fifties were a quiet period, but the Club saw a revival in the sixties when the first men's invitational days were held. By 1969 the number of competitors had to be restricted to 72 due to the high demand! The decade also saw the accommodation improved for the professional and greenkeeper and two new flats and garages secured in an adjacent development.
May 1968 was a milestone in the Club’s history when it hosted a 36-hole professional tournament. Six GB & Ireland Ryder Cup players participated, who between them had a total of 25 appearances. The total prize fund was a princely £550! During the competition Ken Bousfield, Coombe Hill, equalled the Professional course record of 59. The record still survives to this day and is held jointly with JE (‘Spon’) Fullicks, the Club’s professional, who retired in 1969 after loyally servicing the club for over 50 years.
In April 1971 the Title of the course was transferred from Middlesex County Council to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, our current landlords.
The Club’s 75th Anniversary was celebrated in 1975. Doug Sanders, the American golf professional visited Strawberry Hill in that year for a golf demonstration and lunch.
The new clubhouse opened in 1983 and a new constitution was agreed in 1998 confirming equal rights at Strawberry Hill for male and female members.
A fascinating 100 years was then celebrated over a week in the summer of 2000, culminating in the planting of the centenary oak tree by the mayor between the 1st and 9th fairway.
Since 2010, all members have played from the same friendly and competition tees. The par for the course, Course Rating and Slope Rating are different for men and women but there is one course for everyone.