When the appeal was made in 1934 for funds to finance the move to Kelwick, the board had been authorised to borrow up to £4000. As things turned out they were only able to raise £3,075 Even with £550 from the sale of 80 acres surplus to requirements, this was not enough. Before long therefore they had to use some of the club's normal revenue income to make good the shortfall and by March 1937 there was a bank overdraft of £366. This may not seem much to us now but then it represented the equivalent of subscriptions from about 70 members and so in today's money, we would certainly have to think in terms of £20,000 plus.
Obviously it was not a situation that could continue. The income for 1936/7 had been less than £1,000 and it was nearly all needed to cover normal running expenses and overheads. Some members had resigned when the club moved from Hawton Road and it had proved difficult to replace them at a time when few people had motor cars and the general economy was depressed. Even as early as 1936 (i.e. within just a year of the move), the board had considered a proposal that in order to save costs, some of the holes should be abandoned to make the course more compact.
A plan was actually drawn up showing an altered layout of the holes which would have allowed some more land to be sold off. Fortunately, they decided to keep this option on hold. Instead they appealed to the members asking them to subscribe to a special fund to pay off the bank overdraft. This response was excellent. £207 was subscribed by 47 members. Efforts were also made to raise money by developing the social side of the club. The Ladies, for example, ran mixed social evenings and a series of afternoon events to raise funds to furnish their locker room. They were also thanked for donating £20 to club funds which they had raised from bridge and whist drives.
There were other difficulties to be faced. Most, in one way or another, had to do with water or lack of it. The verandah roof regularly leaked water into the lounge! The roof of the Professional's shop leaked. Because of the high water table there was standing water in the cellar, a problem which 20 years later had still not been sorted out. The water from the well near the clubhouse was found on analysis to be unfit to drink. So was another well near the farmhouse, although the former occupant of this house, Mr Mettham and his family, had drunk the water for many years without any ill effects. Members and staff were warned not to drink the water unless it had first been boiled and arrangements were made to have a pipeline laid down the side of the driveway (then referred to as a cart-way) to link up to the main supply. This cost £100 and again an appeal had to be made asking for financial support so that the work could begin without delay. Once more members responded generously with donations totalling £69.
Drainage on the course was poor. The levels were taken, the dykes cleaned out and a programme of drainage was begun in 1937. Perversely the winter and the spring of 1938 were unusually dry and the course was crying out for rain. At the 1938 AGM, the President paid tribute to Mr A V Tully who he said had spent untold hours and energy in trying to get the course right only to be defeated by the weather. He was optimistic, however, that when the rain did come they would get the advantage of all Mr Tully's efforts.
Needless to say, there were complaints about the condition of the course. For one thing, members were losing too many balls because the rough was so high. Marker posts were put in to make it a bit easier to locate them. There were rabbit scrapes and weeds on the greens! The rule on rabbit scrapes was far more severe than now. Apart from a ball on the green, the local rule was that relief could only be taken if a ball lying in a rabbit scrape on the fairway could not be touched by the shaft of a club laid across it. Another complaint was that there was too much gorse on and around fairways. In fact in 1938 an appeal was made to members to be more careful because some of the gorse bushes had been burned. Perhaps in anger!
It must have been most difficult for Les Bakin and his two assistants to develop and maintain a new 18 hole golf course even with voluntary help from members. The equipment was limited and basic. When, for example, the Humber tractor broke down in 1937, the greens committee inspected and seriously considered buying a car for £10 which they thought was capable of being converted for use as a tractor. The two assistants were each paid £1.17s.0d. (1.85p) for a 48 hour week in summer and £1.12s.0d. (£1.60p) for 42 hours in winter. Requests for pay increases were invariably turned down on the grounds that the club could not afford to pay more. Les Bakin was instructed that the greenstaff should be given priority for caddy work by way of compensation. Les himself even had to ask in November 1936 if it would be possible to have some heating in his shop! He was given a stove.
Complaints about the catering? Of course! In June 1936, Miss Robb the stewardess wrote to the board to say that four of the ladies had complained about the quality of her catering and the prices she charged for tea. The ladies were sent a letter by the Secretary telling them that if in the future they had any complaints about the catering, the heating of the clubhouse or the conduct of the stewardess they should be addressed in writing to the Secretary. In the same year Nellie was told not to use the dyke at the back of the clubhouse as a tip for cans and bottles. They were to be buried in a hole in the course selected by Mr Cafferata. In 1938 she was warned that she should at all times be civil to the directors and members.
No doubt the directors must at times have felt worried and frustrated - disappointed too as, for example, in 1937 when the Thursday and Saturday monthly Medal had to be suspended because of lack of support. Two years later it was agreed that they could be revived if at least 12 entries were received!
However, the other club competitions continued successfully although entries were very small by today standards. In 1939 there was the first reference to B team matches when a Mr H A Mills wrote asking if matches could be arranged for higher handicap players. He was told that if there was sufficient support, the board would see if something could be arranged. He provided a list of names in the handicap range 16-24 and Sleaford, Thonock and Southwell were approached to see if they were interested.
The report below from the Newark Advertiser of the results of the Rayner Trophy in May 1937 is interesting from several points of view, not least that J Longdon was able to achieve such a good gross score on a new 6,500 yards long course.
The annual competition for the Rayner Trophy was played on Whit Monday morning, and was won by J. Longdon with a score of 71 nett, being 1 stroke better than J. Wenn, who returned a card of 72. The gross score of Mr Longdon, which was 76, equals the scratch score, and stands as a record of the Kellick (sic) course of 6,500 yards. His card was asfol-lows:-
Out: 535 534 534 - 37
In: 555 553 434 - 39
His scorecard also suggests that the course layout was not too much different from now particularly the par 3s. We know, however, that there were some significant changes in 1979, which will be described later.
Golfers staying in the Newark area on holiday could become Associate Members which entitled them to play in club competitions. The following is the Advertiser's report of the successes of one such visitor in May 1937 which must have really delighted the members!
Mr L. Bee, while holidaying in Newark, recently won two cups on the Newark Golf course. He secured the Coronation trophy and on Saturday week won the "Premier"presented by Mr W. V. Rayner.
There was a good entry, including an encouraging contingent of the ladies' section.
The Premier cup, together with a silver tankard, was handed to the winner after the competition by the Captain (Mr L. Mason).
In 1937 Enos Smith, who had been President for 10 years, retired and Harold Mumby was elected to succeed him. One of Mr Mumby's early initiatives was to try and build up the membership by encouraging young people between the ages of 21 to 25 to join. They were offered a very reduced subscription which they could pay in small instalments. Or if they wished they could pay most of it off simply by paying I/- (5p) each time they played a round of golf. He also encouraged his own sons to join while they were still at school. Patrick joined as a Junior in April 1939 and Alan in 1943. Both, of course, are still very keen and active members.
By 1939, the financial position of the club had improved. The income for 1938/9 from subscriptions had increased to £756 and the green fee income of £90 was double the 1937 figure. There was a loss of £26 for the year but this was due to expense of laying the pipes for the drinking water supply. The course too had improved and the President paid tribute to the voluntary efforts of Mr Tully, Mr Holness and Mr Batty. All in all, everything might seem to have augured well for the future. This was not the case. The storm clouds were gathering and throughout the summer of 1939 there was a real feeling of unease and inevitability that Britain would soon be at war.
In January 1939, Mr Mumby read a letter from a Mr Armitage in which he said he would be resigning at the end of the current year. As he had been the anonymous donor of the Halliday Tankard each year since 1927, he made the suggestion that he would like the competition to be continued not by his giving the usual tankard each year. Instead he proposed to give the club a solid silver pint tankard engraved as the others had been for annual competition. He suggested the club should provide a souvenir of some kind each year. His offer was gratefully accepted but there is no further reference to the matter in any later Minutes. Whether the solid silver tankard was ever presented we just don't know. Perhaps the onset of World War II caused Mr Armitage to change his mind.