The Rev. Gossett of Northam could never in his wildest dreams have envisaged the impact golf would have on women when he planned those eighteen holes near the sandhills at Westward Ho! in June 1868.
By September the Westward Ho! Ladies Golf Club were playing their first Autumn Meeting for Mr Bennett's golf medal and a silver medal purchased from a jeweller in Edinburgh. They were accompanied by gentlemen caddies resplendent in scarlet uniforms. During those early years the Ladies also played for a Championship scarf which the holder had to defend when challenged, sometime twice a day. The annual subscription was then 5 shillings.
Over the years the Ladies Clubhouse, which started as one room, like Topsy, grew and grew, with extensions being added in 1895, 1902 (£110) and 1907. A dining room (for cold meals only) was completed in 1913 at a cost of £75 plus 12 chairs purchased from RND at 12 Shillings each. The French windows (£22) were installed in 1930. The Ladies at this time were allowed to invite male relatives to sit on the new veranda!
The Ladies Club has always been self supporting and has also helped RND in many of their projects. In 1922 they paid £110 for the "putting course" near the clubhouse. In 1924 they were asked for £100 towards the new hole relief course (west of the present course) plus £50 per annum for four years towards the upkeep, which they agreed.
They were financially reponsible for the extensions and repairs of their clubhouse, plus heating (coal) the maid's wages and a new fireplace. They were also responsible for the maintenance of their course, the mowing machine and the green-keepers' wages (who were not happy with their lot!)
There were constant arguments about attitude and wages, sand in tee boxes, ladies damaging the course with high heels and ladies forgetting that the main verandah and most rooms in the clubhouse were for men only.
In 1911 the ladies asked RND to take over the management of the course and they would pay the club. Their rent for the clubhouse at this time was £7.10.0d (to include coal and washing). In 1922 the ladies were querying their 30% allocation of green fees for the running of their club. That year they were unable to raise a Still team because of the lack of funds.
When the Devon County Golf Club was formed in 1900 Westward Ho! Ladies Golf Club was well established. They had joined the LGU in 1898 and many members were good experienced golfers. The records show several had played in The Ladies Championships at Westward Ho! in 1900, 1910 and 1933 and 1952.
The Hon B Lois Yard Buller joined in 1895 and in 1911 presented the club with a handsome trophy which is played for at the August meeting. She became the first County President and Mts Wilson Hoare, who had been the club Treasurer, Secretary, Captain and President, became the first County Captain. Miss Collett, a member of the first County Committee joined Westward Ho! in 1902 and Mrs Still joined for a short time in 1905 (to be near her horse!!). Miss Lottie Dod, of international fame, was a member for several years. Miss Stella Temple, who died on active service in the first world war also made a great impact on the world of sport. In addition to being a good golfer, and representing her county, she played cricket and hockey for the South West. Miss E.Powell Williams (who held the course record of 81 in 1930) was given a surprise membership by her father. Miss E Powell Williams was one of the youngest members of the Devon team.
By the early thirties the Taylor sixties, Joyce and Marrquetta, were established members, playing for the County and are mentioned in the honours section. They are still enjoying life membership of RND.
In 1936 the Westward Ho! team of Miss J Taylor, Miss M Taylor, Miss Moberly and Miss Radford won the newly presented Western Morning News Cup at Saunton.
In 1975 Mrs Margaret Fulford and Mrs Peggy Fourt becamse RND's first and only Willes-Little Winners. During that successful year Mrs Fulford, Mrs Fourt, Mrs Kate Brown and Mrs Phyl Youngman won the Western Morning News Cup and also played in the winning Still Cup Team.
By 1995, RND Ladies had won the Still Cup 14 times. The Sheelah Creasy Bowl 3 times and The Western Morning News Cup 8 times.
NORTHAM LADIES GOLF CLUB was formed in 1928 (by kind permission of RNDGC) for wives and families of Northam Artisan Golf Club Members (founded in 1888). Mrs Wilson Boare was invited to be President and the ladies were allowed to play on the 9 hole relief course. Subscription was 2/- and the entrance fee 1/- . The ladies were requested to use the caddies path when leaving the course, (through the west gate) and not pass in front of the Westward Ho! Ladies Clubhouse!
In 1931 Northam Golf Club ladies were allowed to play on the long links, receiving the same privileges as granted to the Artisan Men. Only 20 of the first lady members were eligible to play on this course and must always give way to RND and Westward Ho! Lady members'. Numbers varied over the years. By the seventies there were very few members as most Ladies playing golf had joined RND Ladies.
The club was disbanded in May 1986, and all remaining funds (£63.85p) were donated to St. Margaret's Chruch, Northam, Chursh Towere Repair Appeal "so that future generations will still have a marker off the 18th Tee".
RND Club colours were navy and white for many years. In 1989 they were changed to navy and light blue with an additional (optional) heliotrope embroidered sweater to celebrate the 125th Anniversary. In 1997 it was decided by vote to revert to the original navy and white.
More information on Ladies Golf History can be found here