Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Oldest Golf Club

During 1890, the first golf club was formed in Port Elizabeth. A preliminary meeting was held in the Algoa House Hotel on 29 August, and the first rounds were played on 27 September. The first President was Sir Frederick Blaine and the site chosen for the course was on the North End flats. In 1902 the new course and club-house on the Cape Road flats were opened.

Main picture: Golf Links of the Port Elizabeth Golf Club

First golf course in PE
Golf made its appearance in Port Elizabeth  during 1890. The first course was established at North End on a strip of land on the seaside of the then Adderley Street (subsequently Main Street and now Govan Mbeki Avenue). The last hole was approximately where the present Red Lion Hotel now stands.

Relocation to present location
Hubert Kessler Pagden, “HK”, became an avid golfer and threw himself into the game with characteristic enthusiasm. He filled the position of captain of the Port Elizabeth Gold Club for some years and in 1897 he apparently scored a “hole in one” at the fourteenth hole ”which was a length of 160 yards and across two  gravel pits”. He was prominent in the negotiations which took place for about two years after 1900 when the P.E. Golf Club secured the piece of land just off Cape Road where the present Port Elizabeth Golf now stands.

The course layout differed from what it is today. In fact it had blue-browned greens until approximately 1908 but it was considered in the early days as the premier course in the country and was the scene of many famous South African championship events.  

Fairway used as extemporised runway
In November 1817, Major Allister Miller made the first flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, landing on the P.E. Golf Club course. His plane was a BE 2E biplane with a 100 hp Austin engine. His arrival was most eagerly awaited by people from all around the district, who assembled to see the plane arrive. An imperfect landing as a result of the expectant crowds moving onto the flight path, caused Miller to strike a bunker and damage the propeller of the biplane. The club has retained the propeller as a souvenir. The purpose of Miller’s flights around the country was to recruit men for the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF) during WW1. This was his second recruiting drive and some 8000 applicants volunteered themselves for selection.

5th Green of the PE Golf Club

Conveniently situated in the heart of the city, along Westview Drive, Mill Park, the long-standing Port Elizabeth Golf Club offers an outstanding golf course and first class facilities. Having been in existence for over 100 years, it is steeped in tradition and is known to locals as “The Hill”. The length of the Course is 6117 Meters with 18 holes / Par 72.

It is rated as being amongst the top 100 golf club in South Africa and is also the 2nd oldest Golf Course in South Africa.

Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine (1996, E H Walton (Packaging (Pty) Ltd, Port Elizabeth, on behalf of the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth).
Pagdens 1898-1998, A History of the Firm and A Story of its People by David Geard [1998, Port Elizabeth, Pagdens Inc]

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