The Golf Courses of the British Isles by Bernard Darwin
London Courses – Kent and Sussex – The West and South-West – East Anglia – The Courses of Cheshire and Lancashire – Yorkshire and the Midlands – Oxford and Cambridge – A London Course – St. Andrews, Fife, and Forfarshire – The Courses of the East Lothian and Edinburgh – West of Scotland: Prestwick and Troon – Ireland – Wales.
Some dozen or fifteen years ago the historian of the London golf courses would have had a comparatively easy task. He would have said that there were a few courses upon public commons, instancing, as he still would to-day, Blackheath and Wimbledon. He might have dismissed in a line or two a course that a few mad barristers were trying to carve by main force out of a swamp thickly covered with gorse and heather near Woking. All the other courses would have been lumped together under some such description as that they consisted of fields interspersed by trees and artificial ramparts, the latter mostly built by Tom Dunn; that they were villainously muddy in winter, of an impossible and adamantine hardness in summer, and just endurable in spring and autumn; finally, that the muddiest and hardest and most distinguished of them all was Tooting Bec.
All this is changed now, and the change is best exemplified by the fact that although the club has removed to new quarters, poor Tooting itself is now as Tadmor in thewilderness. I passed by the spot the other day, and should never have recognized it had not an old member pointed it out to me in a voice husky with emotion. The ground is now covered with a tangle of red houses, which cannot be termed attractive, and such glory as belonged to it has altogether departed. Peace to its ashes! it could never, by the wildest stretch of imagination, have been called anything but a bad course, and yet it held its head high in its heyday. Prospective members by the score jostled each other eagerly on the waiting list, and parliamentary golfers distinguished the course above its fellows by cutting their divots from its soft and yielding mud. I still recollect the thrill I experienced on first being taken to play there; it was a distinct moment in my golfing life. It was exceedingly muddy, but it was not so muddy as the course at Cambridge on which I usually disported myself, and on the whole I thought it worthy of its fame; people were not so difficult to please in the matter of inland golf in those days.