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Holmes

This club is famous for… being founded by the author of Sherlock Holmes

Which club did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle helped establish? It's elementary, my dear Watson...
 

Though he created literature’s greatest sleuth, there is little mystery about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s love for golf.

Sherlock Holmes would have deduced the hacker’s desires in seconds – gleefully noting the scuffmarks on the elbow pads of his jacket, caused, of course, by the wear from the repeated swinging of a club.

Elementary, my dear Watson.

Conan Doyle was a willing and quick convert to golf, which was spreading like wildfire in late-Victorian England.

He’d moved to Hindhead in 1897, choosing the tiny Surrey village as a haven to help his sick wife, Louisa, get away from smoggy, damp, London.

Relocation, though, presented a problem to the golf-mad Conan Doyle. The nearest club was five miles away.

Not an issue today, but something of a bind if you didn’t have a horse and cab to hand.

So teaming up with some pals, including Edward Turle, the owner of Hindhead School, he helped create Hindhead in 1904.

With its high-sided valleys, formed two million years ago during the ice age, the area was christened Little Switzerland – and Conan Doyle was the club’s first president.

The course was forged around an area called the Devil’s Punchbowl, a name that could easily have found its way into any Holmes short story.

It was opened with a match between James Braid and JH Taylor, which the former won.

Holmes

Conan Doyle’s association with Hindhead was only brief. He’d later play at Crowborough Beacon, where he became club captain in 1910.

But his influence there remained. In 1921, he encouraged former Prime Minister David Lloyd George to sign up to the club.

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth” – The Sign of Four

Holmes’ own feelings about golf are as much of a mystery as some of the weird and wonderful cases he investigated.

Only two references to the game exist in all the short stories and books – and the detective addresses golf on a single occasion, at the beginning of The Greek Interpreter…

It was after tea on a summer evening, and the conversation, which had roamed in a desultory, spasmodic fashion from golf clubs to the causes of the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic

Unlike Ian Fleming, who had James Bond play a round of golf against nemesis Goldfinger, Conan Doyle kept his private and professional lives apart – and Holmes was never allowed to stride the links.

But although he may have shown no interest in the sport, it is only thanks to golf that we enjoy so many of his adventures.

During a playing holiday on the Norfolk coast, Conan Doyle, and the young Daily Express journalist Fletcher Robinson, kicked around the idea that would become the detective’s most famous tale – The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Holmes had met his end in a the tussle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, by the time the pair discussed the details of the evil hound on Dartmoor, but the success of the originally posthumous story persuaded Conan Doyle to revive his hero.

“Quite remarkable”

Conan Doyle isn’t the only notable to express a fondness for Hindhead. Peter Alliss is an honorary life member and has a bar named after him in the clubhouse.

He has described Hindhead as one of his “favourite courses of all time”.

Dai Rees, who captained the 1957 Ryder Cup-winning Great Britain & Ireland side at Lindrick was club professional from 1936 to 1947.

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ archive

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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