Tucked away between the winding lanes of Windlesham and Bagshot, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turning winds its way to a car park. It’s full, on this particular Tuesday morning, but quiet: a haven from the busy roads and motorways just a stone’s throw away. A building stands in the midst of it all, yet still there’s little sign of life: a few people popping in and out through glass doors, but with no indication of what they’re here to do. They smile as they enter, nod to each other as they leave.
Once inside, though, this all changes. The atmosphere is fresh, and there’s a sudden vibrancy to the surroundings that couldn’t have been guessed at from outside. Men and women sit together, chatting over tea and coffee; the lighting is warm and natural, breakfast is being served. And then, the view. From floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping themselves around the southern-facing part of this spacious room, a course appears: a pristine green, endless flora, falling away to reveal woodlands as far as the eye can see. A conservatory area provides the perfect spot to watch the sky outside change from grey to blue and all shades between. And directly in front of the window? Golf clubs and trollies. Suddenly, the focus springs to life. We’re at Windlesham Golf Club, and the morning’s activities are well under way.
Walking through the west entrance and the hallways of the Clubhouse, the building’s purpose begins to reveal itself by turns. A board hangs proud on a righthand wall, bearing the names of Club and section captains dating back to the Club’s inception in 1994. Within this building, cases contain trophies, walls display the honours boards, and pictures reveal that, over a quarter of a century, this place has amassed some impressive history. As members drive in and out, it’s evident too that times have changed: back in 1994, the dress code was strict and immutable. No jeans, scruffy trainers or denim jackets; although nobody has gone so far as to completely flaunt this rule of old, it’s a more casual affair today.
Modern-day clubs, as we know them, came into vogue during the early-20th century, when professional, often military men would come together to play on weekends and, during the summer months, after the day’s work. But its origins, of course, stretch back much further into the past: indeed, during the 15th century the sport was banned in Scotland by King James II after swathes of men neglected their army training and duties to pursue hours spent on medieval links. The contemporary drive for more ground dedicated to golf came about hundreds of years later, during the boom of the 1990s, and Windlesham counts itself a member of this newer cohort. In the United States, the National Golf Foundation proudly advised prospective planners with the slogan to build a course a day to keep up with demand.
Its comparative youth lends Windlesham a degree of innovation, of rewriting the codes that have dominated the older, more established clubs for decades. And this inclusive, innovative approach has obviously found favour, with a current membership approaching 620. Enabling participation from men and women, children and teenagers, first-time golfers to low handicap players, even professionals, long-time players, recreational users and local schools, Windlesham’s diversity and range of experience gives it a thriving, fresh feel. It’s a place of many demographics, and all seem to be mucking along quite happily together. Windlesham is a club that reflects both the community it serves and the ever-changing society in which we live: for the first time, in 2017, the men’s and ladies’ captains have merged to allow for one overarching Club captain. Much arrangement for a day’s play is now carried out online, and the sub-groups within the Club communicate largely via email, Twitter and WhatsApp. And yet the social element of the place is thriving. From competitions to charity dinners and formal functions, members of any and all ability are welcome. This, too, represents a departure from other clubs – when Windlesham was first established, a drive for local golfers to register after opening also enabled first-time players to sign up, handicap disregarded. Amongst a great many other things, which will be explored through the course of this book, it is Windlesham’s welcoming nature that lies at the core of its enduring popularity, and why another 25 years seem set to continue apace.
Continue reading this trip through the first 25 years of Windlesham GC in the PDF below
Club History – Image Gallery
Listen to a fascinating interview with Henry Lumley
Key Club Milestones
1992 – Rights to membership went on sale
1993 – Construction of the course started (Tuesday 4th May)
1994 – Windlesham Opens for play (July 31st)
1995 – First Seniors section Stableford competition (Now known as the Highwaymen)
2007 – Peter Lumley and Tony Truman come on board
2014 – Clubhouse refurbishment
2015 – Junior academy awarded golfmark club of the year
2018 – European Tour Foundation became sponsor of the junior academy
2019 – 25 year anniversary