IT was nearly 100 hundred years ago in 1921 that Brynhill Golf Club was established.

George V was on the throne, Adolf Hitler was elected Der Fuhrer of the Nazi Party and Spurs beat Wolves 1-0 in the FA Cup final.

Meanwhile, in Newland Street, a Mr R Fletcher chaired a meeting at Barry YMCA to explore the possibility of laying out a golf course in the town.

Following discussions, land off Port Road was identified as suitable and an annual rent of £3 was agreed with the farmer, who also retained grazing rights for his sheep.

Local pro Ted Ray was paid the princely sum of a “tenner” to peg out the 9 hole course, with much of the actual course building being carried out by the founding members and with a shed borrowed from Barry Docks acting as the clubhouse, Brynhill was good to go.

On May 28th the first drive was hit off the first tee by club president and local MP Major William Cope, we have no record as to whether he nailed it, sliced it or topped it but irrespective the start of a century of golf in Barry had begun.

By the outbreak of the Second World War, both the course and membership had expanded, however needs must and the facilities were commandeered as a base for the US Army.

Among the Americans stationed there was a Major Coolican from Tennessee, in recognition of the hospitality and kindness shown to himself and his men, the major presented Brynhill with the Tennessee Cup, the club reciprocated by gifting him the Barry South Wales Trophy, both trophies are still contested on both sides of the Atlantic till this day.

In 1984 the new clubhouse was completed and another more famous American was involved, when America’s favourite comedian Bob Hope performed the opening ceremony, it should be pointed out the comedy legend didn’t pop across the pond just to cut the ribbon at Brynhill but was in fact visiting Barry researching his family tree and unveiling a plaque on the family home in Greenwood Street.

Ten years later the club bought another 65 acres of land from a local farmer (this time no grazing rights were included) and commissioned golf architects the Dave Thomas Partnership to design a new expanded layout for the course, creating the magnificent beast Brynhill is today.

This course has produced numerous Welsh and British Amateur Champions, at both junior and senior level and a ridiculous number of professionals, both touring and teaching, so clearly we are doing something right but that doesn’t mean we are resting on our laurels, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the course and with this in mind two years ago a handful of members organised the “two thousand trees project”, whereby we sourced and planted two thousand indigenous British hardwood saplings.

This will not just improve the golfing aesthetic but will further increase biodiversity in the town’s green lung.

As photographs show, the course is looking amazing as the greens team have still been able to complete essential maintenance work so that the course is in good shape awaiting the return of its members.

The club has procedures in place ready for reopening including ensuring social distancing rules are followed as the safety of members and staff are paramount.

But it’s not only the course that’s evolved over the decades, the clubhouse has now become a focal point within the wider Barry community, hosting weddings, birthday celebrations, gin nights, quiz nights and music events, the last one being a Barry White tribute who roofed the place out.

The old image of the founders clearly belongs to a different era and while we salute their vision and efforts golf has evolved, from what was a rather snooty, stuffy gentleman’s club to an all-inclusive sport with a widely diverse membership, which we’re looking to increase even more, with more women playing and free golf for children.

It’s a fantastic club with a membership that’s second to none, a membership that despite the course and clubhouse being closed indefinitely, renewed their fees in their hundreds.

I’m not sure what our founders, sat in bowler hats and tweed jackets, would make of current golf fashion but I’m sure they would applaud the unwavering loyalty of those who play on the rolling fairways today.

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