The Duke of Sutherland sold Lilleshall Hall and the Estate in 1917. It passed through various hands until 1932 when the then owner, Herbert Ford, decided to start to develop a golf course. The internationally renowned golf course architect Harry S Colt was invited to design the first nine holes (commonly known as the open nine).
In 1935, Mr Ford decided to extend the first nine holes and build another nine holes through the woodlands. H S Colt was called in again. The first task was to clear glades for fairways and sixty men were engaged for nearly a year to do this. Powerful petrol and electric winches were used and it was quite a sight to see very large trees being removed, trailing their roots, often 12 feet deep into the ground, behind them. Many trees snapped off at ground level and a new way had to be found to dispose of their roots. These were blown up, with five tons of gelignite being used in the process. More than 5,000 trees were uprooted and then the task began of filling in the craters and levelling the ground. The club has a fascinating Pathe news clip of this work in progress.
The biggest job of all followed – the construction of the greens and fairways. Many thousands of tons of soil were removed to construct the greens in contours that appeared to blend into the natural surroundings. The soil was first conditioned and then seeded under the supervision of experts from Harper Adams Agricultural College. The cost reached over £1,000 per hole but resulted in an outstanding golf course which demands accuracy above all other golfing virtues. Mr Ford then invited Newport Golf Club to move to Lilleshall Hall where they continue occupancy until the outbreak of the Second World War.
After the War, the club was revived but only used the wooded nine holes until, in 1961, the original first nine holes were reclaimed after being used for grazing during the War. Since then, until 2016, minor changes have taken place in the layout of the course.
The total acreage, including the tree and rhododendron lined plantations aside the drive to the clubhouse from Abbey Road, is 165 acres. In 1992 Lilleshall Hall Golf Club bought the course and woodlands from the Sports Council, which owned the estate at that time. The purchase was financed by an interest-free loan from the members, borrowing from the bank, brewery and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
The then wooden clubhouse, originally Pear Tree Lodge which was firstly the Chimney Sweeps and then the Carpenter’s Cottage on the estate, had a new wooden clubroom, dining room, men’s locker room and professional shop built on.
In 2003 the club decided to build a two storey, brick clubhouse incorporating new Men’s and Ladies locker rooms. This project included the refurbishment of Pear Tree Lodge with improved access to the new clubhouse, which blends well with its surroundings and offers very pleasant views over the golf course. The wooden clubhouse was dismantled carefully and shipped to southern Ireland and is in use with some additions at the Esker Hills Golf Club near Dublin. The new clubhouse was first used for Captain’s weekend in June 2004 and was officially opened in October 2004. It has proved to be a valuable asset for the club in expanding its social activities and in attracting new members.
In 2013, members agreed to extend two holes (the 2nd and the 10th) to create par 5s. These new holes add a significant challenge to the course, and both measure over 500 yards. The work was carried out by the club’s own greens staff and was funded by loans from club members. The new holes opened in August 2016 and have been popular with members and visitors alike.
From 2018 to the present-day, significant improvements to the course condition have been achieved through the good work of our course staff and professional consultation, resulting in excellent greens throughout the year and resilient fairways despite the significant challenges faced during the Covid pandemic in the 2020 to 2022 period. Led by our professional team, further improvements to our practice facilities have added to the experience to members and visitors alike.