Opening of the course 8th September 1906 which was given extensive coverage by the local Harrogate press: “A nine-hole course second to none in the North of England with ample room for extension to a full eighteen holes.” Mr F Barber, the first captain, performed the opening ceremony and he said that he would give an explanation on how he came to be Captain.
He had attended a meeting in the North Eastern Hotel, Harrogate (now a pizza restaurant!) in September 1905 to give his moral support to the proposal to establish a new club, but found himself elected as Captain of the Club. The land was leased from The 5th Earl of Harewood and plans were already being made covering the laying out of an eighteen-hole course.
James Braid and Alex (Sandy) Herd were approached and Sandy Herd (winner of The Open Championship in 1902) was retained. The 6th Earl of Harewood agreed to be the club’s President. The full course was officially opened on 11th April, 1908 with a match between James Braid and Harry Vardon watched by over 500 spectators. Vardon won in the morning by 3 and 2 and the match was halved in the afternoon. Pannal was placed on the list by the Railway Company of “Golfing Stations”. Club members were issued with an individual Golfer’s Certificate by the NE Railway to travel First Class at a special discount rate when the journey was for the sole purpose of playing golf. In 1909 the Lady Members joined themselves into a separate club and their first Lady Captain was Miss Sheepshanks. The club now had a membership of 488.
In 1911 His Majesty King Manuel of Portugal was given Honorary Membership. Years 1912 and 1913 saw the disappearance of many old pot bunkers and their replacement by bold hummocks. Dr Alister MacKenzie was engaged to improve the course. The work was to be carried out over a three-year period at a retainer of 50 guineas. Mackenzie’s involvement only came to light in 2011 when club Historian Anne Smith reinvestigated the archives. She found the invoice from Alister Mackenzie and through the offices of The Alister Mackenzie Society its authenticity was verified.
As a result the Club was honoured to be invited to join the Society in 2012. Click here to access their website. In 1913 The Duke and Duchess of Connought were given Honorary Membership. The club carried on gaining more members until 1914 when we were at war with Germany. The carefree days were over. The Pannal Unit of the Ripon Division of Training Corps was drilled on the course. Captain Snowden a popular member was killed, as was Private GH Wilde, a member of staff Mrs Hudson’s son also died followed shortly after by the deaths of Lt. MH Schunck and Lt. Sidney Burnley, Mrs Burnley’s (the caterer’s) son. The professional EH Cassidy enlisted as did the clerk and caddy master. A long struggle for survival lay ahead. In 1915 the club played host to wounded soldiers and concerts were arranged at the Winter Gardens, Harrogate in aid of British prisoners of war in Germany.
Viscount Lascelles and HRH Princess Mary accepted Honorary Life Membership to celebrate their engagement. An exhibition match was played on 20th May 1923 between Walter Hagan of Detroit USA, the reigning Open Champion, and Joe Kirkwood from Australia who had been the Open Champion of both Australia and New Zealand. More excitement built as the famous lady golfer Cecil Leitch had entered The Barnehurst Trophy being held at Pannal, but to the disappointment of the large crowd of spectators was unable to travel from London. In 1927 The English Ladies Close Championship was held and won by Mrs Edith Guedella, sister of Cecil Leitch.
Jack Busson was engaged as professional and was selected for the Ryder Cup. The 1933 course alteration was submitted and carried out by Sir Guy Campbell and Major CA MacKenzie. Pannal celebrated the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 and life and golf went on until war was again declared with Germany in 1939.
Mr Stringfellow was Captain all through the war years with the Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer also retaining their roles. 250 sheep grazed the course and crops were grown on the 11th and 12th fairways and the practice ground. Competitive play was abandoned but in this year an Exhibition Match was played with Henry Cotton, Jack Busson, JE Gent and Hector Thomson.
In 1942 a meeting was held with representatives from the Harrogate, Oakdale, Knaresborough and Pannal Golf Clubs to discuss a “Cotton” match for the benefit of the Red Cross and it had far reaching developments for Harrogate golf. The combined effort was to be known as a Harrogate and District Golf Clubs promotion.
The match took place on 16th August and a cheque for £1,584.14s was despatched to the Red Cross. It was 1949 before the eighteen holes were once again ready for play and it was in this year that recognition was given to Officials and Foundation Members who held the club together during the dark days of war. 1950 was a momentous year with the purchase of the course from the 7th Earl of Harewood . Also in that year members’ subscriptions were £8.8s and in 1952 they were raised to £11.0s.6d - there were 42 resignations!
Coronation Year 1953 was celebrated with competitions, dinners and teas. The 7th Earl of Harewood was now President having taken over on the death of his father. The Club’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1956. Refurbishment of the clubhouse was undertaken.
Happiness reigned on the course and in the clubhouse. In 1972 there was great excitement once again as Lee Trevino, the Open Champion, was coming to Pannal to play in an Exhibition Match on Sunday 16th July. The excitement was understandably intense as only the day before, as defending champion, he had won The Open at Muirfield. The match was played with Lee Trevino, Michael Bonallack, Rodney Foster and Lionel Platts – the scores being 66, 71, 68 and 68 respectively. Wonderful golf was played and Lee talked and joked with the spectators.
The Southern-bypass was built but did not affect the club. The Earl and Countess of Harewood came to present prizes at the August Golf Weekend.
In 1989 Pannal won The Vauxhall Golf Club Team Classic at St Pierre out of 110 clubs that had entered. The Bass Leeds Cup, the oldest of the professional golf tournaments, was held at Pannal. It was first played in 1902 when Harry Vardon won the trophy.
The subject of enfranchisement of Lady Members was becoming an issue and Ladies received the vote on 29th November 1999.
2001 saw the terrible crisis of foot and mouth disease that was sweeping the country. Public footpaths could not be walked on but we could continue to play golf. In 2005 The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews invited Pannal to host the regional qualifying rounds for The Open Championship for a six year period starting from 2006.
Centenary Celebrations took up the whole of 2006 and what a great and exciting year it was with so many events and the whole club joining in the celebrations.
In 2012 the 8th Earl of Harewood became Club President following the death of his father, the 7th Earl, who had been President since 1946.
The Club made some changes to its Articles and Bye-Laws in order to comply with the Equality Act. The major change was the election each year of two Captains of equal standing, namely the Men’s Captain and the Ladies Captain.
A period of significant developments on and off the course. In 2015 the clubhouse was subject to major refurbishment including the creation of a Sports Bar featuring photographs of the 11 Open Champions who have played at Pannal. In 2019 a large Honours Board summarising key events in the Club’s history, such as our co-hosting of the 2015 English Amateur Championships was introduced into the Dining Room.
On the course a major Tree Management Programme was undertaken in 2019 and 2020 to reintroduce the dramatic views across the course and Crimple Valley, as well as enhancing green and fairway turf conditions. Several new bunkers were installed as well as a significant investment in drainage to improve all year-round playability.
Thanks to the generosity of members Peter Turton and Ian Elliot the Club also now benefits from a magnificent new Halfway House and a new Clubhouse Balcony facility overlooking the 18th green. Life memberships were awarded to Peter and Ian in 2021 to recognise their truly wonderful support for our Club.