It was on the 19th of November 1892 that James Rigby, the Medical Officer of Health and Nicholas Cockshutt, a local solicitor, consulted with George Lowe the professional of Lytham St Anne's about the construction of Preston Golf Course. A site was chosen on the eastern side of Preston adjacent to the Preston Pleasure Gardens in the district of Farringdon. Within a week 9 holes were laid out. The course extended over 43 acres and was approximately 2600 yards set in undulating meadows overlooking the River Ribble, complete with basic changing facilities. Preston had its first golf course and Sydney Hermon, formerly the Captain of Lytham St. Anne's Club officially opened it. Golf was played here for another two years until another course was opened in 1895 on the northern side of Preston in the district of Fulwood. The two clubs merged and became known as the Preston and Fulwood Golf Links and it has remained on this site to this day. The land was owned by the Clayton family and was farmed by two tenant farmers, Mr Morris from Mason Hill Farm and Mr Hill from Fulwood Hall farm. The land was then sold to the Marquis of Rothwell who owned much land to the North of the course. The word Fulwood was dropped from the title shortly after the formation of the new club.
18 holes were planned and designed with the help of George Lowe and extended over 4210 yards of fairly open but undulating meadowland. Since then the course has been changed a number of times for a variety of reasons and plans of these courses are still available for inspection. In these early years the Club enlisted the help of some very eminent golf players to design and to shape the course, notably Harry Vardon the 6 times winner of the Open Championship between 1896 & 1914 and also famous for the ‘Vardon Grip’ used by most golfers around the world, James Braid the 5 times winner of the Open between 1901 & 1910 and prolific golf course designer, Alistair Mackenzie best known for his terraced greens an Sandy Herd who won the 1902 Open from Vardon & Braid. Much of what they suggested is still in place today.
Alongside these course developments, the elected council was busy establishing changing facilities, greenkeeping duties, professional duties and the rules and regulations of the club and the generation of income. The administrative business was conducted from the pleasant confines of convenient hostelries nearby and in the town centre but the players changing facilities were not as pleasant, restricted as they were to a hut, which was inherited from the Ribbleton course. Eventually, one of these situations was resolved when the club obtained the use of Fulwood Old Hall but members had to continue to use the hut to store their belongings and change their attire. This Old Hall had been the home of the Clayton family since 1551 who owned much of the surrounding land. The massive studded oak door is thought to be part of the original building and remains intact even though it is several centuries old.
It was customary to invite eminent golfers of the day to play an exhibition round when a major alteration to the course had been made. Usually this included the consultant designer. Thus it has played host to such names as Braid, Taylor, Vardon and Sandy Herd. An archive film of this match is still in existence. A G Havers, Abe Mitchell and Ted Ray played the course after the 1923 alterations and E Rays's card has been retained as a memento of the occasion.
Undoubtedly the biggest professional golf event ever staged at Preston was the Roosevelt Nine Nations Golf Tournament. Its aim was to raise money so that physically handicapped young people could participate in the game of golf. It was always played on the Sunday preceding the Open and attracted the support of many top players giving their services free of charge. In 1974 the Open was at Royal Lytham and the Nine Nations was held at Preston. Bob Charles won the event. Brian Barnes, John O'Leary and Roberto de Vicenzo competed in the field and an elderly member recalls how Brian Barnes spoke in a most complimentary manner about the course in general and of the present 14th in particular.
More recently, Adam Scott, the very successful Australian tour player visited Preston to give a demonstration in the summer of 2000. Andrew Greenbank has the photos of this visit. Since then Adam has sponsored the Adam Scott Trophy for Junior Golf at Preston Golf Club.
The acquisition of the Hall for members' use was a major development in the history of the club. The original building was not altered substantially until 1953 and a comparison of a photograph taken in 1953 with that of one taken in 2003 shows the extent of the alterations over the intervening years. Especially noticeable are the magnificent locker rooms for both men and ladies that are the envy of many of the neighbouring golf clubs. The latest development has been the building of the driving range. This excellent facility was provided by the most generous gift the club has ever had from one of the members. He granted this gift on condition that the club would promote golf for the juniors, not necessarily members, so that youngsters of all ages and from all backgrounds could get a taste of the wonderful game of golf. This promotion is ongoing and gathering pace.
However, the most significant event in the club's history must be the acquisition of the land and clubhouse by the members. In fact the property was offered for sale to the members on no less than three occasions and thankfully the members from the 1950s era had the foresight to spend £8600.00 and buy some valuable real estate. Ten years later even more land was bought and on the 7th of December 1960, 29 acres of land was bought for £4,060.00. As a result it now was possible to achieve the ambition which had been cherished since 1923. The course was brought up to the clubhouse. A new 1st hole was created, the former 1st hole was extended and became the 17th and the 18th was repositioned on the top land where it is now. A large practice area became available and a new car park was constructed.
Some of the land, which had been bought, was sold and the money was invested in a land account. This money has since been used to renew all the greens to USPGA specification and to extend the 17th hole by moving it across the stream. This is now one of the best holes of any golf club in the district offering a formidable challenge to golfers of all abilities.
For a more detailed account of the Club's history you may like to read "On Fulwood Green".