Seacroft Golf Club has a compelling history from turning down a re-design by famed architect Dr Alister MacKenzie to hosting the 1935 English Ladies Close Golf Championship when the glamorous Gloria Minoprio threatened to bring down the establishment by competing in trousers rather than a skirt.
The original nine hole course, a few hundred yards nearer to the town, outside the Vine Hotel, was opened on 24 April, 1895, with an exhibition match being played between JH Taylor (winner of the Open Championship in 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 and 1913) and the club professional, GK Wilson. In 1900 land to the south, which forms the present Seacroft Golf Links, was acquired and Willie Fernie, of Troon, was commissioned to design the 18 hole course similar to that which is now played.
Adjustments were made to the course throughout the first 20 years, but in 1923 more land was acquired to the east of the 11th fairway and practice area. The directors of the day commissioned a report from Dr Alister MacKenzie to utilise this new piece of land. His report made minor changes but for reasons unknown he overlooked the new land. The directors were not impressed and turned his proposal down – surely one of the few clubs to reject a design from the eminent golf architect! A drawing of his suggested alterations still hangs in the clubhouse today.
Seacroft has played host to many notable competitions and exhibition matches. After the inaugural match in 1895, JH Taylor returned in 1907 to play the Frenchman Arnaud Massy, who had just won The Open at Hoylake. The 36-hole match was followed by 600 spectators with a special train being organised from King’s Cross station to bring many of them from London. A series of exhibition matches were played in the late 1950s and early 1960s with proceeds going to charity. In 1957 Dai Rees and Ken Bousfield played John Jacobs and Harry Weetman, followed in 1960 by Eric Brown and Bobby Locke who played Max Faulkner and Bousfield. In 1963 DaveThomas and Rees took on Peter Alliss and Bernard Hunt.
Seacroft has also been the venue for many national championship events. The English County Finals were played in 1960 and 1988. They should have been hosted at the club again in 2020 but unfortunately were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Logan Trophy was held in 1995 and the club hosted the English Girls’ Under 16s in 2010 and the McGregor Trophy in 2013. The Eastern Counties Foursomes are held at the course in May each year.
The English Ladies County Finals were played at Seacroft in 1934 and the English Ladies Close Golf Championships in 1935. The latter was probably better known for the glamourous Gloria Minoprio defying convention by wearing trousers instead of a skirt. She caused quite a stir on the links!
Seacroft is used to seeing well known professional and amateur players and has produced its own champions with the most notable being Helen Hewlett (nee Dobson). Helen had a magnificent amateur career and, after turning professional in 1991, she went on to win in Europe and the USA. Helen now has her amateur status back and regularly plays at Seacroft.