Tenby Golf Club was formally established in 1888, but by most accounts there were enthusiasts knocking balls around the links and sand dunes by at least 1875. In any event, experts agree that Tenby stands out as the birthplace of Welsh golf, with the course adapted from a 9-hole to 18-hole course in 1907. Tenby was also one of the founding members of the Welsh Golfing Union.
Golf was more or less exclusively a Scottish sport from the late medieval period onward, and only started spreading throughout the British Isles during the 19th century. Tenby was very much at the forefront of the new wave of this emerging sport.
The Club evolved in line with the bustling resort of Tenby next door, which began attracting visitors in Victorian times. They were lured by the new craze of “sea-bathing”, as well as by Tenby’s reputation as a spa town and health resort. Part of the Club’s original appeal for these first golfers may have been the same as the resort’s – the fact that the town’s sheltered position provided a partial shield from the winds of the Bristol Channel
As the birthplace of Welsh golf the Club acquired a certain prestige, attracting a cluster of local and national celebrities to the links – including the renowned statesman and Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. He became a regular on the links, and is pictured second from the left in the group photo below. He also owned a house in Tenby town.
The first competition was held on October 25th 1888 over nine holes, and was won by Mr TA Rees. He scored gross 51, net 41 off a handicap of 10. The first inter-club home match was against Swansea Bay in April 1895, with Tenby winning 15-13. The Club’s inaugural AGM was held in 1889, by which date the Club had a total of 44 members.
To the right are pictures of Tenby’s first greenkeeper back in 1888, and below that you can see a group in front of Black Rock taken in October 1908. From left to right are: R Hutton Esq; The Right Hon Lloyd-George; Mrs Clifton, and the Rev J Morris.
One of the most famous sporting figures who has graced the Club was Dai Rees, who was a massive figure in British golfing either side of the second world war. Rees, who won 39 world titles during his career, had a great affection for Tenby, and a particular affinity for the course’s third hole with its need for absolute precision when approaching the green. The hole is now named in his honour.