Westwood Golf Club came into being in July 1923 some 24 years after golf began to be played on the course at Wallbridge. We are somewhat unique as we have two centenaries to celebrate, 100 years of golf played on our course in 1999, and 100 years of Westwood Golf Club as it is now in 2023.
Some of our members left in 1923 and built a course a mile away and took the name of the club with them, Leek GC (Birchall). This action left us a course without a club name, so the remaining members took the name of the farm on which the course had been built.
The early days were very difficult as there was much competition. Golf in 1923 was very popular with many local courses and Westwood would have much competition, however we have survived.
From 1899 until the 1980s Westwood was a 9 hole course, the front nine now, it was also rented and shared the ground with sheep and cattle. The greens were fenced off to prevent cattle damaging them. In the early 1970s the land was purchased and cattle and fences were removed. The ceremony (pictured) to remove the fences became known as the “Last Post”.
The late 1980s saw the acquisition of land over the river which is now our back 9 and 4 new holes were built, the then 2nd hole was played from a tee to the LH side of the 1st green to the 10th green.
In the early 90s the remaining holes, 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th were completed, together with a new 2nd hole, opened on Captain’s Day 1991. Our magnificent clubhouse was opened by PGA Professional and Ryder Cup player Brian Waites in 1992.
As you might imagine building such diverse greens over an extended period led to issues as all golfers want consistent greens. With help from agronomists from STRI and our tremendous greens staff all greens were treated completely differently to make them perfectly consistent. In recent times our green staff have been complimented on the superb quality of our greens. They get better every year.
Westwood’s best-known member was the late darting legend Eric Bristow, a long-time resident of the town. The staff recall that Eric wasn’t fond of climbing the front nine slopes when his ball went awry, preferring to re-load and leave the members following him around to go and find them instead. They were more than keen to do so as he always had a good supply of brand-new Pro V1s on him!
Harold Rushton the ex-pro from the 1950s was something of a hole-in-one expert, no less than 13 of them during his time at the club. Apparently each time he shot one, he treated his playing partners to a pot of tea afterwards! He carried on playing at Westwood until well into his 80s.
Westwood has had great success in League Golf in the years since the league began. Notable years were 1996 when Westwood won both the Premier League and Division 1 and the Dofsky Cup knockout. 2004 we won the Dofsky Cup and Haughton Salver and 2013 we won the Premier League, Dofsky Cup and Haughton Salver knockouts.
Since the Veterans League was formed in 2015, Westwood teams have won the leagues three times and finished runners up three times, and won the knockout twice. In 2022 both teams finished runners up in Division 1 and won Division 2, which means both teams are playing in Division 1 in 2023.
Westwood is a members club and became incorporated some time ago to enable us to give the best possible service to members and visitors. We are also a CASC organisation which means we are committed to include the entire community. Westwood has always had and still has a reputation for being one of the friendliest golf clubs you will visit.
To the present day and following a few challenging years, fortunes have improved greatly, a welcome boost in membership, a new caterer and the recent sponsorship deal with the Leek Building Society has led to extra investment on the course and 19th hole. Westwood is in a good place right now.
Their centenary celebrations include a centenary mixed competition, a gala dinner in September and the resumption of the Leek ‘derby’ The Tideswell Trophy, Westwood vs Leek. Two junior county events are in the calendar as well.
MG wishes to thank Jeff Barratt, Chairman of the Centenary Committee and 2023 club captains, Ian Sergeant and Pam Burton for putting this article together with us