In 1899, when Radlett was a sleepy hamlet in a heavily-wooded valley along the old Roman road between London and St Albans, a band of intrepid local residents founded a golf club in the grounds of the local “Porters” mansion. This became one of the earliest courses to be established on the north side of London. With Radlett being served by the railway, the fledgling golf club soon became a popular retreat for professional gentlemen from the City.
In 1902, it took the name of Porters Park Golf Club and even in its early days, there is evidence that it was well run and soundly administered. It quickly became established as a leading venue for amateur and professional events. The clubhouse began as a small wooden hut, being considerably extended in 1903.
In the first and second world wars, part of the course was used for growing crops, such as potatoes and hay, and for grazing cattle and sheep. Regular events were held to entertain wounded soldiers. The names of the members and staff who fell in both wars are commemorated on an oak panel in the lounge.
The clubhouse was damaged by a serious fire in 1954 with much of it having to be rebuilt. A large scale club house extension was completed in the spring of 1990 enhancing the clubs facilities for members and guests alike, and providing spectacular views across the course from the lounge, restaurant and bar areas.
Today, the only remaining evidence of the Porters mansion is an underground ‘ice house’, located in a pine copse to the right of the third fairway. Concrete anti-tank obstacles from World War II still survive on the tenth hole and the remains of a fortified, hexagonal ‘pillbox’ can be seen next to the path down to the fourteenth green.
Many of the great names of golf have played matches or exhibitions at Porters Park, including Harry Vardon, James Braid, John Henry ‘JH’ Taylor, Abe Mitchell, Henry Cotton, Ted Ray, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Neil Coles, Ken Brown, Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood.
Famous past members include Samuel Ryder, creator of the Ryder Cup, and two past Walker Cup players, Brian Chapman and Peter Townsend, with Peter having played in both the Walker Cup and Ryder Cup teams as well as assuming the mantle of Captain of the PGA. Visitors have included a number of sports, film and show business personalities including Sean Connery, Henry Cooper, Des Lynam and Gary Lineker.
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