The history of the design and layout of Southerndown Golf Course is fascinating! The following links show how it evolved during its first 20 years:
The person called upon to design the first course at Southerndown was Willie Fernie, the Professional at the Glamorganshire Golf Club in Penarth. While the course was being constructed a temporary course of five holes was played over from the autumn of 1905, the members using the Professional’s shed as a temporary clubhouse. That shed stood on top of the present access road where it turns off westward to the modern clubhouse. It was one of the many gifts made by Colonel John Nicholl, the first Captain of the Club and a Trustee for many years.
by Don Evans
The journalist John Duncan in one of his many fine articles on Welsh Golf Clubs, articles that were first published in The South Wales Daily News during the early part of the twentieth century, mentioned the difficulty of assigning to any one individual the credit for the formation of any particular club. He went on to say “To this rule, however, as with other rules, there is one exception, and in dealing with the history of the Southerndown Golf Club I have not the slightest hesitation in giving the name of Mr J A Alexander as the founder. I would indeed term him the Father of the Club, did not such a designation ill befit an individual of such perennial youth."
Sketch plan from original lease
John Alexander had long cast the eye of an expert golfer over Ogmore Down, with its short crisp turf, its bracken, gorse and sandy hollows. His original idea had been to form a course at Southerndown Village and, indeed, a few holes were actually laid out on Cymla Common. Mr Alexander had the zealous support of Mr H O Irvine (agent and sub-agent of the Dunraven Estate), Mr J I D Nicholl, Mr W R Randall, Mr W A Williams and Mr Hubert Alexander on this project. The various tenants of the land under consideration also promised their cooperation. However, St Brides Major Parish Council were obdurate in their opposition and eventually the scheme was thrown out.
A short while later John Alexander turned his attentions to the site of the present Southerndown course. John Duncan once commented that early in 1904 he was dragged over the Down by Mr Alexander with that redoubtable individual making various suggestions for the site of a golf course. During the walk he was perpetually pestered, it seemed, with the same question “What is there to prevent this being one of the finest courses in the British Isles?"
Chief among those associated with John Alexander and the foundation of the Club in those early days was Sir John Moxon of Newport. He took part in the early Cymla negotiations and his profound legal knowledge was of great assistance in overcoming difficulties in obtaining the Licence from the Duchy of Lancaster. Mr Isaiah Verity, a highly regarded local figure, helped to placate the Commoners who had grazing rights over the Down.
The licence from the Duchy of Lancaster was for a term of 31 years (from 1904) at a rental of £50 per annum. The lessor was the Duke of Lancaster, later King George V, and the original area to which the Club had rights totalled 420 acres.
In the event only about half of this acreage was ever used. Mr D T Alexander, who was well known in South Wales (and father of Mr John A Alexander), was in the business from the beginning and it was to him that the original Licence from the Duchy of Lancaster was granted. This Licence gave the Club authority to lay out a golf course, to make greens and bunkers and to play over the course.
Southerndown Golf Club
Ogmore by Sea