James Braid Trail & History

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The Porthmadoc and Borth-y-Gest Golf Club was first registered with the R&A in 1905 and the first hundred members paid half a guinea as membership fees. By May 1906 the nine hole course was in full use with Lord Harlech as the inaugural President.

Initially, the Club had only an annual rental agreement but in June 1910 a long term tenancy agreement was signed with the owner of Garreg Wen farm. The agreement stipulated that golfers must be on their best behaviour (as they always should be!) but in particular they were not to take any game, hares, rabbits or wild fowl and were to pay compensation for any sheep, cattle or any other animal killed or injured by them- potentially problematic as the farmer retained grazing rights other than for bulls or other “savage” cattle! They were also not allowed to play on Sundays and not to diminish the level of water in Llyn Samson – now part of the estuary. One has to wonder what the weather was like a century ago for the landlord to be concerned about water usage. Several contemporary photos of Samson’s Bay are in the Course Gallery.

James Braid is a true legend of golf course design and has probably been involved in over 400 courses. At the peak of his activities he would often simply stroll round a course, make some simplistic illustrations on the back of an envelope and then send it together with an invoice to the Club concerned! The precise timing of his visit to Porthmadog is not known but it is likely that it was around 1910 as that was when the long term tenancy was signed and in 1911 Nisbet’s Golf Year Book lists a proposed extension to 18 holes.

Irrespective of his particular recommendations , there are certainly features of today’s course that have all the hallmarks of classic Braid design such as Par 3’s that play in four different compass directions and bunkers such as those on the 11th and 12th holes bordering Samson’s Bay.

Porthmadog is part of the James Braid trail in North Wales (http://www.golf-northwales.co.uk/james-braid-trail.)[http://www.golf-northwales.co.uk/james-braid-trail]

In the mid 1980’s, one of the most important changes was made to the course with a radical re-design of the 4th, 5th and 6th which is now very much something of a local Amen Corner. Any golfer will be happy to play to his allotted handicap on these 3 holes.

The Amateur Course record is a superb 6 under par 65. As yet, there has been no qualifying event to enable a professional to register a better score on the revised course. We welcome any professionals willing to come and establish a new record!

The course has hosted a number of prestigious events such as the

Welsh Ladies Team Championship 1994, 2012
Welsh Girls Championship – 1968
Welsh Boys Championship – 2003
Welsh Professional Championship
Several County Championships and 3 Major Pro Ams which included players with Ryder Cup experience.

Insight into the history of some of the men’s section club' trophies

St. Davids Day Cup. Oscar.W.Williams one of our oldest members was Captain in 1977 and President in 2006. He was instrumental in researching and compiling the clubs Centenary book and donated the trophy to the club in 1972.
The Draig Fadog was given to the Club in 1970 to be played as a knockout event by David Lewis a well-known local business man who founded Craftcentre Cymru.
Dennis Morrow held various positions within the club including Club Secretary, Captain in 1974 Greens Chairman and was President in 2010 he was the match and handicap secretary for many years before the age of the computer. He thought that match play foursomes would be an interesting format to play and donated the Morrow Foursomes trophy to the club in 1979.
Cwpan y Ddol presented by Gareth Wyn Jones back in 1965 the year that he was Captain. Y Ddol, also known as Meadow Drive is an estate in town where he used to live and as the proprietor of the Red Garage also donated a trophy by that name back in 1979.
Ship Aground Rose Bowl presented by Ron Hopkins proprietor of the public house in Talsarnau in 1968.
Fairways Cup was donated by local newsagent Bill Pike in 1964 , he was known for his generosity and sponsored many sporting clubs and activities in the town, was Captain in 1966 and is survived by his daughter Meryl ,who now runs the business and kindly still sponsors the event.
The Sarona Shields donated by 1976 captain Eric Roberts and named after the house in Morfa where he lived.
Laurence Harrison was club treasurer in the 60s and Captain in 1960 lived in Penrhyndeudraeth and presented us with the Harrisons Rose Bowl.
The Kyffin Cup donated by David Kyffin Thomas ,his wish for the competition to be played on Whitsun Sunday morning has been adhered to since 1965 so that we may socialise in the bar afterwards. He’s a memorable character and secretary for many years, survived by his son Peter who still sponsors the competition.
John Elfed Griffiths was a well-known local businessman running the family business Red Garage, he became a captain on two occasions and as Chairman of the greens nobody would question his decisions, donated the Tremadog Cup to the club in 1963.
The Beers Tankard is another of our old trophies and presented by successful local businessman Samuel.V.Beer who was captain in 1949, he was followed in the post by his sons Harold and David in later years.
Robin Jones was a member of a well-known Porthmadog family and was the publican of The Australia Inn and The Robin Australia memorial was presented in his memory by his son Gwyn.
Evan Emlyn kept a shoe shop in town and in 1978 a team trophy was donated in his memory by his son John Madoc Davies who was himself a very accomplished golfer.
The Garreg Wen Shields played for during Open Week was presented by the well-known one armed golfing champion Dick Richards (RNR) who used to own the site. He also owned the land where holes 3 to 9 are now sited before selling it to the club in the 1980s.One of the clubs true characters.
Dr. Maurice Jones was originally from Borth y Gest but practiced in Bala and donated the Cwpan y Bala to the club in 1972.
Ron Lawton was another local Borth y Gest boy who was a solicitor in town with the firm Breese Gwyndaf.
The Glyn Newell Salver presented by Glyn who ran Newells bakery for many years and more recently lived in the house to the right of the 1st green survived by his wife and past Lady Captain Hilary.
The Havelock team trophy was given to the club by the late Robert Havelock or better known as Bob Station who ran the Station Inn at Porthmadog.
The Four Oaks trophy donated by Roy Lane past captain in 1986 and named after his home in Morfa Bychan.
The Winter League presented by RJ Owen captain 1966 and more affectionately known as 'Jackie Plymmar'.
The All Winners Trophy which is played for at the end of the season was donated by past Captain Gwilym Griffiths from Tremadog. He is survived by his three sons, Malcolm, Gareth and David who are also past Captains of the club.
O.J.Jones was a very well-liked character originally from Cricieth but later built up his very successful pharmaceutical business in the Wrexham area. He was made vice-Captain of the club in 2014 but regrettably passed away before he could fulfil his duties. Affectionately known as O.J, his memorial trophy was donated to the club by his family.
The Gwyndy Cup is a more recent trophy donated by Martin Leech in his year of Captaincy ,and owner of Gwyndy Caravan Park in Morfa Bychan.
Mike Jones was a regular visitor to our Open Week and in gratitude of the warm welcome he used to receive from our members gave a trophy to the club, and together with his 'partner in crime' Barry, also donated The Stoke Bell to the ladies section which is played for annually during the Open Week.
The Anniversary Cup donated to the club by Peter Gratton Parry who was a highly respected GP in the Porthmadog area for many years, and someone who always ready to indulge in conversation