The original course was constructed in 1960 by the College with the advice of the golf professional at Strensall for the sole use of the College and the Community. The first records of the Golf Club date from around 1972, when Frank Amies, the then licensee at the Fairfax Arms, negotiated an arrangement with Ampleforth College for the local people to use the college course at Gilling Castle.
The first President of the Club was the Rev Leo Chamberlain, latterly Headmaster of the College, now retired, who had been responsible for arranging the maintenance of the course from the early 60's. The Club experienced some ups and downs in its formative years with a small membership, low subscription and insufficient funds to provide the improvements necessary to attract more members and justify a higher subscription to enable the Club to prosper. The increasing popularity of golf in the late 70's and 80's rapidly filled the membership of other clubs in the York area, long waiting lists developed and the Club was able to take advantage of the situation. Membership began to rise and the future looked brighter.
However maintenance of the course had been a heavy responsibility since the course was constructed. Father Leo, working with volunteer pupils and occasional part-time help coped valiantly, but his other responsibilities at the College as Housemaster increased, occupying more and more of his time. The Club acquired membership of the English and Yorkshire Golf Unions in 1983 and sought improvements for members. Discussions took place with the College and eventually in 1986 the Club took responsibility for maintenance of the course on a trial basis for a year. Bunkers were renovated, tees extended, standards improved, the trial was a success and it became a permanent arrangement.
This take-over of the maintenance could have led to a divergence of the Club and the College. However the official recognition of the Club by the Golf Unions in 1983 was a stimulus to resolving the various ad-hoc arrangements for use of the course and all the users of the course were brought together under the umbrella of the Club. The result was a harmonious working partnership, embodied in a lease, whereby the Club provided the necessary machinery, equipment and labour, and the College pupils had preferential access between 2–4 pm during term time.
The modern course
The Club in the late eighties, despite its attractive setting and ever improving standards, began to experience a high turnover of members, losing them to other clubs in the area with better facilities. This trend accelerated as more new clubs opened and long waiting lists became a thing of the past. Provisional plans were prepared to extend the course to 18 holes on land owned by the Abbey Trustees, but the changing scene was recognised and a more modest, but achievable target was set of providing a first-class 9 hole course with improved facilities.
With the co-operation of the Trustees, the Club was granted access to 14 additional acres in the Lower Temple Field to construct two new holes. A new par 5 and a new par 4 were constructed and two short par 3s closed. This was made possible due to a windfall VAT repayment following a change in legislation, help from many members, and dedicated work by our previous green-keeper who retired in 2010, Tom Berriman.
The club has taken this long term strategy forward with a course improvement programme, which has involved the reconstruction of all the old greens to provide well drained high quality greens, playable throughout the year, with new tees and other improvements.
In 2010, responsibility for course maintenance was transferred to the Abbey Trustees together with the Club's rather dated machinery and equipment. The Abbey Trustees recruited a new green-keeper and set in train an equipment modernisation programme. The Club now pays an annual fee to the Abbey Trustees for the use of the course, which equates to roughly three fifths of the sum required to maintain the course. Also at this time, the long-serving volunteer Secretary and Treasurer, Dr Michael Wilson retired and the Club engaged a Manager.
Planning permission for a new timber framed clubhouse, containing clubroom and toilet facilities, was granted by Ryedale District Council and approved by the Abbey Trustees. The Club has been successful in raising over £30,000 towards the project.
Work on the new Clubhouse began in October 2010, the work being carried out by a enthusiastic group of members under the leadership of the Project Architect, Ron Illingsworth. The Clubhouse was opened on schedule in early April 2011 and was used to good effect at the Invitation Day barbecue in late July.