There are few people as synonymous with golf in this country than Peter Alliss, so who better to call on than the world-renowned player and commentator to launch your centenary year.
Well-known as 'the Voice of Golf',Alliss has a long association with Croham Hurst Golf Club dating back to his formative years in the game.
The ex-Ryder Cup star is not surprisingly fond of the Surrey venue and has described it in the past as "a good members' course, pleasant but testing", and Alliss was delighted to take time out from his busy schedule earlier to return to Croham Hurst to begin the club’s centenary celebrations by unveiling a specially-commissioned book chronicling its rich history.
It promises to be a year to remember for the club having been chosen as the host for the Surrey Amateur Championship on June 3, whilst a series of events will take place throughout the summer to commemorate its anniversary including the Straker Salver - a special centenary medal to be awarded to the player with the best four-round nett aggregate from eight medal rounds.
Croham Hurst Golf Club is one of the few, select courses in the south of England to have been designed by five-times Open champion and legendary golf architect James Braid.
It was formed in 1911 after a small group of local businessmen got together and decided there was a need for an amenable "golf club for gentlemen" in the countryside, near to Croydon but also handy for London. After mature reflection, this was amended to include ladies as well.
A lease was negotiated with the owners, the Whitgift Foundation, and two courses, a nine-hole and a full 18, were constructed from old agriculture land by Braid and Fred Hawtree, who had just started his company as a golf club architect. The nine-hole course was quickly abandoned after the main and present 18 hole course was opened in October 1913.
Braid and Hawtree were at pains when designing their layout to ensure the undulating nature of the course should reflect the beauty and appeal of the north Surrey countryside as it was then, and subsequent development of the district has not detracted from its semi-rural feel with some fine views on offer, particularly from the tenth tee.
Since the Second World War, Croham Hurst has been played by some of the leading professionals of their generation and all have expressed an admiration for the venue.
Ex-Ryder Cup player Harry Weetman was the club’s professional for six years during the 1950s, Welsh star Dai Rees first played there in 1951 and said he was "surprised by the hidden difficulties" while, most recently, victorious European Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie described it as "one of the nicest courses in the south east" upon visiting.
Nestling in a very special corner of Surrey, two miles from central Croydon and 12 miles from the capital, you are immediately struck by its sense of history and a wonderfully warm sensation of being completely at home when you arrive there.
Situated in gently rolling countryside, Croham Hurst is an enchanting parkland course with densely wooded areas, while being built on chalk ensures the course drains well, offering the opportunity of all-year-round golf.
From the south-facing clubhouse terrace, the course extends up the valley in a series of gently undulating loops, with lush, springy fairways fringed by silver birch, beech and ancient oak.
Like many of Surrey’s courses, the layout rewards accurate driving and the undulating greens provide an interesting challenge to golfers of all standards.
After opening with two long uphill par-fours, players will need to card a good front-nine score before tackling the more testing back nine. Don’t be fooled by the yardage, too. Croham Hurst may measure less than 6,300 yards off the medal tees but there is more than enough trouble to penalise any off-line shot.
Unlike a lot of clubs in these testing times, Croham Hurst has a 670-strong playing membership of around 670 and the excellence on the golf course is mirrored off it with its outstanding clubhouse.
Whether it be relaxing after a round, entertaining a society or celebrating a weddings with friends and family, the clubhouse offers a warm welcome and ideal facilities.
The lounge can accommodate 100 for fine dining, 120 for a buffet, and up to 160 for a party, while a patio area offers beautiful views of the course. There is also a small committee room available for hire which is suitable for small groups, seating 12 for private dining or 16 for business meetings.
One of the joys of Croham Hurst is that it is quintessentially English. Like a fine wine, it has matured beautifully and there can be few finer places to enjoy a round of golf in the south of England.
For more details about Croham Hurst, please call the club manager on 020 8657 5581.