Your Guide to Golf in Essex
Essex is a large county occupying the East of England directly above North London. It is home to the Town of Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England and over time has been subject to many border changes making it a topic of some debate as to which areas are still classed as Essex.
For this reason, to state the exact number of golf courses in Essex is something of a matter of opinion. Officially speaking we have 78 golf courses listed in our directory for Essex, though many from Greater London and other surrounding borders were originally Essex Golf Courses when they first opened, taking the total closer to 90.
Oldest Golf Course in Essex
The oldest of these golf courses is Royal Epping Forest Golf Club.
Officially recognised as a golf club in 1888 it is the only club in Essex to have a Royal status. The lands on which the course is based are full of history too. Formally the hunting grounds for King Henry VIII & Queen Elizabeth I.
The course in many areas boasts wide undulating fairways making for a challenging round of golf.
It is said that the area was also roamed by ‘The Highwayman,’ Dick Turpin.
Royal Status Golf Clubs
Having the Royal status puts Royal Epping Forest Golf Club in an elite group, having the status bestowed upon them by a member of the United Kingdom’s Royal Family. To have this title in the name of the club is a Bona Fide right, not easily obtained.
Only 64 golf courses in the world have Royal Status, with just 34 residing in the United Kingdom itself.
Royal Epping Forest Golf Club was granted patronage by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.
This puts them among prestigious courses such as The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Royal Ascot & Royal Aberdeen.
Following the official opening of REFGC, it was two years before Woodford Golf Club opened in 1890, a 9-hole public woodland golf course. Followed by Maldon Golf Club, a 9-hole private members club.
The Essex Golfers Union
It was a while later in 1924 when the first inauguration of the Essex Golfers Union took place.
Hosted at Romford Golf Club (1894), the initial 23 golf clubs were inaugurated.
At the meeting itself, there were 16 clubs in attendance, of which 14 remain with us today.
Of these golf courses, Essex has also been blessed with course designs from renowned 5-time Open Champion James Braid, known as one of Scotland’s greatest ever golfers. He designed Romford Golf Club and in 1896 became their PGA Professional.
In total Braid has designed 200 golf courses worldwide. 7 of which are listed above as the attending 16 at the Essex Golfers’ Union Inauguration.
Essex Golf Competitions
The First competition organised by the Essex Golfers’ Union was a 36 Hole medal competition now recognised as the Essex Amateur Championship.
Other notable competitions that were introduced in the early days of the Essex Golfers’ association are the Thornton Challenge Cup and the Leslie Wood Team Championship.
The Thornton Cup, although run by the association now, was originally set up by a special committee in 1920 and wasn’t handed over to the Essex Golfers’ Association until 1925. This competition is still competed for today, among the now 76 golf clubs who are part of the Essex Golf Union. This year’s 2017 winners were Orsett Golf Club.
The Leslie Wood Team Championship, which originated as the Junior Team Championship in 1925 is also still active and this year saw The Warren take the 2017 Leslie Wood Title.
As well as the notable history with the Golf Clubs and the Association, Essex has also been home to some famous faces, both those who are notable golfers and those who have been known to enjoy a round or two.
A not so surprising face would be the Rt. Hon Sir Winston Churchill, who held the constituency of Epping, Woodford & Chingford. On the border of Woodford is a statue of Sir Winston Churchill and it is noted in the minutes of the Essex Golfers’ Association that he often attended their annual dinners.
As well as Churchill, it was also recorded that the Lord Chief Justice and Bernard Darwin would attend these annual dinners.
Bernard Darwin, the grandson of Charles Darwin, was well known in the golfing community as a talented amateur golfer, as well as a golf writer. He was also inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005 for his work as a Golf Writer.
More recent success for Essex is having Oliver Fisher competing on the European Tour.
Fisher is from Chingford, the home to Essex’s oldest course Royal Epping Forest Golf Club.
Fisher turned pro back in 2004 and won the Czech Open with a round of -13 in 2011 and was Runner-Up in 2014 at the Africa Open.
Fisher is in the record books as the youngest player to compete in the Walker Cup, where he represented Great Britain & Northern Ireland in 2005 at Chicago Golf Club, just 16 years 334 days old.
As a junior Fisher also won Sir Nick Faldo’s Junior series three consecutive years in 2003-2005.
Playing Golf in Essex
With so many fantastic courses available in the area suitable for a range of abilities, Essex is a place to search and find some golf!
Essex has several public courses for those who like to try new courses on a regular basis, or are planning a golf-filled weekend.
Not to mention the perfect option for your winter golf at Orsett, Toot Hill & Cranham where they enjoy exceptional drainage.
Some shorter 9-hole courses for those who like a post work round and your prestigious Members only clubs for those of you looking to join somewhere special.
It really does have it all . . . so start your search here now:
Find Golf in Essex