During the inter-war years [1927 to 1934], there was a Nine-Hole Golf Course around the Cricket pitch on Ifield Village Green [land owned by Sir John Drughorn] – one of the oldest Village Cricket Greens in Sussex dating back to the 1700’s.
It was the home of the Ifield Artisans – with their ‘Clubhouse’ being The Royal Oak. After 1934, the Club moved to the present Ifield Golf Club – built in 1927 by Sir John Frederick Drughorn – now under threat from predatory developers.
[Sources: Bob Cooper and “Forging Links – The Story of Ifield Golf and Country Club” by Craig Gascoigne]
Bob Cooper writes [Oct 6 2019]:
“I joined the Ifield Artisan section in 1962. My Father, Bob Cooper and his brother Dick Cooper (both Artisan members) were playing at the golf course before the war. At one time my Uncle Dick still managed to play with one arm in a sling; he ended up playing off a 2 handicap!
“The Artisan section started on the nine-hole course around the cricket pitch in Ifield. They used the Royal Oak pub as their ‘clubhouse’ and held regular committee meetings there. My Father had all the Minutes from all those meetings right up to the end of the club in 1985, when all the members were invited to join the main club. I gave those Minutes to John Earl, the professional at Ifield, who has them together with the old Artisans Captains Board which I passed onto him several years ago.
“When the main Ifield Golf Club opened in 1927 the Artisans were still playing on the nine-hole course. In April 1939, Sir John Drughorn invited the Artisans to play on the Ifield Golf Club course, and it was decided at their Extra-Ordinary General Meeting in the same month to start playing there – albeit at restricted times.
“The nine-hole course was continued to be used by the Artisans up until 1934 when they gave up the course.
“My Father became an Honorary Member of the club in recognition of his services to the club and the number of years that he was a member there. Both he and my Mum, Rose Cooper were well known at the club as they ran the ‘Half Way Hut’ for many years – next to the 8th and 13th tees. That is where they both decided that they wanted their ashes scattered, which I duly carried out – my Father in 1999 and my Mum in 2003. The plaques are still present to this day.
“Here is a photo of a card from Bernard Gallacher OBE and professional golfer wishing my Dad a happy 80th birthday which I organised for him at the club.
“These are photos of my Mum and Dad standing outside of the original ‘Half Way Hut’.
“They chose that spot not only because that is where they enjoyed so many happy times running the ‘Half Way Hut’, but also because it was a peaceful spot with good views over the Sussex countryside which is where they both were born.
“The thought of the whole area being covered over in concrete absolutely horrifies me.
“The other consequences of all this house building is: where do they all go when they need a hospital, a doctor, and a school? East Surrey Hospital has trouble coping at times already. Where is all the extra water going to come from? I never hear about plans to build more reservoirs.
“Concerning the name “Artisan”, there are still many Artisan Golf Clubs in existence in the UK. The name basically originates for people who work for a living in a skilled trade. Back in the day members of golf clubs were all landed gentry and professional people like doctors, lawyers, etc, the working-class came under the heading of Artisans. Several years ago, a well-known Sussex golf club was very strict on membership only allowing professional people to join. There were people who were very well off, however because they were not classed as professionals or landed gentry they had to join the Artisan section. May have changed now.
“Ifield however did not impose such membership restrictions, it didn’t matter what you did for a living, you could join. Maybe this is why the Artisan section closed, as in terms of qualifications for membership to the main club there was no difference.
“As an Artisan member we had restricted times where we were allowed to play. I cannot recall what they were now, I think the winter tee times were at lunch time and late afternoon in the summer. It all worked very well, my Father being Captain for a record number of years – as the Captains Board will verify.
“The Artisan section carried out various projects on the course, divoting for example, and they built a new tee on the 12th hole, tucked away in the corner (not in use today). I am told that my grandfather was part of the original green keeping team when it opened and I recall my father telling me that nearly every bunker on the course had sand in it.