A souvenir Handbook of Newark Golf Club published in 1921 credits Mr Stuart MacRae with having introduced golf in Newark in about 1890. Mr MacRae, together with about a dozen fellow enthusiasts including Dr Ringrose (a fellow Scot) and Mr E H Nicholson, laid out 6 holes on the Sconce Hills -elevated earthworks in a field on the Farndon Road near the river Devon.
They played golf there for about 5 years until 1896 when the Council acquired this land and they had to look for a new site suitable for golf. They found it between Newark and Hawton. This site was part of land farmed by a Mr Abraham who held it under lease from a Mr Holden. A small clubhouse was erected and "for a number of years a few members enjoyed a game of golf under rather trying circumstances!"
The following information is given in the Golfing Annual for 1896-97: Newark Golf Club 1. Founded 1896. A 6 hole course one mile from the station. The holes vary in length from 124 to 300 yards and there are numerous hazards. The green record is 30 by E Ringrose against a par of 22.
President E N Nicholson, Captain E Ringrose Committee - Rev. H R Gidney, H P Job, C Morrison Hon Sec - C Nicholson
By 1900, interest in golf was growing. Grantham already had two golf courses. Mindful of this and the fact that it was obviously an additional attraction for a town to have a golf course, a move began to see if one could be formed in Newark. Mr F Corballis was credited on a number of occasions with being the driving force behind this. Stuart MacRae himself is on record as saying that had it not been for Mr Corballis, Newark would probably not have had a golf course.
Fortunately, by this time Mr Abraham had become a golf enthusiast and when he was approached, agreed to let them have 40 acres of pasture land at a rent of £25 per year -subject to the consent of his landlord Mr Holden. The ground was described as suitable with a light soil and a fair amount of turf.
With these provisional arrangements in place, a Town Hall meeting was called "for those who would or might be interested in forming a golf club."
The Newark Herald reported it as follows: "On Tuesday 2 April 1901 at 4 pm an influential meeting of gentlemen associated with national sports was held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall The Chair was taken by the Mayor (W F Atter) and among those present were F F Corballis, S MacRae, Dr Ringrose, C F Richardson, Mr Abraham, Mr Cqfferata, Harold Bailey, Rev J Smyth, Mr Hodgkinson, Lewis Ransome, Rev F Ross, C J Ridge and RevJLoseby."
Mr C F Richardson said that those responsible for arranging the meeting had asked him to move the resolution which was that a Golf Club be formed. He added that he gladly undertook the duty, though if they were to act upon the principle of giving honour where honour was due, that task should have been given to Mr Corballis because he had brought the matter so much to the fore.
When the Resolution was carried, Mr MacRae proposed that Mr Corballis be honorary secretary and this was seconded by Dr Ringrose and carried unanimously. Mr Corballis said that he would do his best to develop the club into a good paying concern but they would need to get as many members as possible to make it a success. Some discussion followed about the question of how much it would cost to lay out a decent golf course on the land. A figure of £50 was suggested but Rev F J Ross said that this would not get them very far. He had been instrumental in getting up a little course at Staunton and he thought at least £100 would be required. He pointed out that it would also be necessary for them to have a pavilion - and as to running costs - "if there were 9 holes, the rolling and the mowing would keep a man at work three days a week at 3 shillings a day."
Before the inaugural meeting ended, a sub-committee comprising Mr MacRae, Mr Corballis and Mr Richardson was elected to carry matters forward. This sub-committee reported back at a meeting on 9 July 1901 that Mr Holden had consented to the use of the "Militia Field" at Hawton as golf links subject to certain conditions.
The meeting then elected the club's first committee as follows: Mr Lewis Ransome, Rev F J Ross, Mr Abraham, Mr MacRae, Mr C F Richardson, Dr Ringrose and W F Atter. The name of Mr Redmond Cafferata was added subsequently. Sir Henry Bromley was elected President of the club. The subscription was set at one guinea (£1.05p) for gentlemen and half a guinea for lady members. It was decided that after 80 members had joined, an entrance fee might be introduced. The committee was then authorised to draw up a code of rules for the club and to submit them to a general meeting of members to be held later.
This general meeting took place on 14 November 1901 when Mr Corballis was able to report that the club now had 148 ordinary members, 96 gentlemen and 52 ladies. A newspaper report of the committee's decision that those joining after 10 September 1901 must pay an entrance fee had prompted a great influx of members! Mr Corballis went on to refer to the proposed new clubhouse, the cost of which was to be defrayed by shares which some of the members had already taken up. Mr Harold Bailey, who had given his services as architect free, explained that the plans provided for a well-lit large room with lockers, and ladies' and gentlemen's rooms on either side. At the back there was to be a kitchen fitted with a cooking range and a dresser and plate rack. At the side was a small workshop for the professional. The building itself would be covered with a corrugated iron roof and would have a verandah running the full length. The existing structure was to be used as a bicycle shed. The plans were adopted.
Dr Ringrose then explained the rules which he said the committee had carefully drawn up from those of other clubs. These were passed and the meeting then proceeded unanimously to elect Mr Stuart MacRae as first Captain of the club.