Llandudno “the Queen of the Welsh resorts” has two popular beaches appropriately named the North and West Shores. The golfer who wants to enjoy his or her golf could do no better than come to play the North Wales Golf Course. The visitor will find the North Wales Club a true links course situated on the Penmorfa Beach popularly known as the West Shore.
The course is of Championship standard hosting the Welsh Team Championships in 1995. It is not only a trial of ability but allows the golfer to relax and enjoy the exhilarating air and the magnificent scenery of the North Wales coast. As the course runs along the coast there is an ever changing vista. On the outward holes can be seen the Vardre where many a battle was fought before and during the erection of Conwy Castle in the 12th Century. Then the Eryri — Snowdownia mountains loom over Conwy. Then across the sea to Ynys Mon — the island of Anglesey and Puffin island. Sweeping further right and visible at the turn towards home is the Great Orme. For the golfer who comes to Llandudno to play golf, few other places could surpass this for relaxation and enjoyment while playing golf.
Tancred D Cummins
The course was founded in 1894 by Tancred D Cummins, from Bowden in Cheshire, who was a prominent Manchester cotton businessman. He first saw the land at Christmas in 1893. At that time it was composed of sand hills and valleys running West to East formed by the prevailing Westerly winds, which still blow, as many a golfer has found to his cost. In the summer of 1894 Mr Cummins watched the Amateur Championships held at Hoylake where Mr John Ball the first Englishman to win The Open in 1890 defeated Mr More-Ferguson by one hole. Following his triumph Mr Ball visited Llandudno with the founder the following week. John Ball’s association with the club is held in high regard by the members and a putter he donated to the Club is still displayed in the Club House and a competition held is his honour annually. John Ball went on to great triumphs being the youngest player ever to win the Open Championship which he did at Prestwick in 1890.
Another member of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Mr Harold H Hilton, Open Champion in 1892 and 1897, was an associate of Mr Cummins the founder member. Mr Hilton visited the course and gave valuable advice and suggestions on the layout of the course.
Another connection with the Royal Liverpool Course is found in the Club badge which includes the words “far and sure”, which is taken from the Hoylake Club Moto. John Ball won the Amateur Championship on eight occasions and Harold H Hilton was Champion three times.
Following the completion of the course, Mr Cummins named each hole. The par 3 13th, a beautiful short hole playing directly into the prevailing wind he named “Hades”. The Church Commissioners from whom he purchased the land, requested that the name be changed, as it was inappropriate to have such a name when the land had connections with the church. Mr Cummins refused the request. In order to alleviate their displeasure, he named the 18th “Paradise”. These two names remain to this day. Mr Cummins was to be the Club Captain and Club Secretary for 38 years from 1894 to 1933.
The course changed during its formative years because of housing development on the surrounding land. Since those days there has been little change.The biggest change was some 20 years ago when the green of a delightful short hole, “The Sahara” was lost through coast erosion. There have been recent additions to the course facilities with the addition of a practice ground and a practice pitching area.
The qualifying round of the Penfold competition was held on this course during the period 1952-54. When the great Henry Cotton won the event in 1954, he referred to the North Wales Course at a press interview which followed his success, as “a gem”.
John Ball (World Hall of Fame)
John Ball dominated amateur golf in Great Britain the way Bob Jones did in the United States. He won eight British Amateur championships, The Open and the hearts and respect of his country. In the words of British golf historian Donald Steele, “No golfer ever came to be more of a legend in his own lifetime.” He was the first amateur golfer in England to be named by the Royal Empire as an Immortal.
In 1878, at the age of 17, Ball finished fifth in The Open at Prestwick. His run of Amateur titles began in 1888 and stretched until 1912, when he was 51 years old. His best year was 1890, when he won both the British Amateur and The Open Championships. Jones, who won the Grand Slam in 1930, is the only other golfer in history to win those two tournaments in the same year.
Although he gripped the club tightly in the palms of both hands, Ball’s swing was the most graceful and stylish of his era. Bernard Darwin wrote, “I have derived greater aesthetic and emotional pleasure from watching John Ball than from any other spectacle in the game.”
Ball learned the game competing against Harold Hilton on the links at Hoylake. In 1876, at the age of 15, he competed in his first Open Championship and finished sixth at St. Andrews.
Nine years later, he competed in his first British Amateur, but it was not until 1887 that Ball reached the final and lost to Horace Hutchinson. He won his first Amateur title the next year, defeating J.E. Findlay at Prestwick, 5 and 4.
In 1892, Ball defeated Hilton in the final of the British Amateur at Sandwich, but finished runner-up to Hilton in The Open Championship at Muirfield. He would not get as close again in The Open but continued to play competitive golf at a high standard into his later years.
At age 60 he reached the sixth round of the British Amateur. In 1927, at the age of 66, Ball attempted to win his 100th British Amateur match, but was defeated in the second round and came up one victory shy of the milestone. It was not long afterward that Ball retired to a farm in North Wales, where he died in 1940.
John Ball, Jr. became the first amateur golfer to win The Open Championship in 1890.
On the ball at North Wales Golf Club
It was Christmas 1893 Tancred Cummins first saw the land known as the Warren on Llandudno‘s West Shore composed of sand hills and valleys formed by the prevailing westerly winds, with which any golfer who is played the links regularly will be more than familiar.
He recalls in old notes that the following February he spent 2 to 3 weeks planning out a rough nine holes and some weeks later mentioned the venture to the British amateur champion John Ball after watching him win the title on his home course at Hoylake.
The meeting started a close relationship between the North Wales Golf Club and one of Britain’s greatest amateur Golfers of all time who was a country member of North Wales Golf Club.
John Balls contribution is remembered to this day by the historic Putter which hangs in the clubhouse and which was presented to the club by him after using it to win the amateur championship in 1907, 1910 and 1912.
John Ball in fact won the title eight times between 1888 and 1912 and would probably have won it more but for the three years at the beginning of the century when he was away serving with the Cheshire Yeomanry in the war in South Africa.
He continued playing in the amateur championship up until 1921, when at 60 years of age, he reached the sixth round. He was runner up twice in addition to his eight victories.
After hearing the plans at Llandudno from Tancred Cummins, John Ball agreed to travel from Liverpool to Llandudno to give us opinion on whether the land was suitable to make a successful links.
Mr Ball and Tancred Cummins approved the nine holes with Mr Ball occasionally playing a wonderful shot out of five or 6 inches of rough and grass making some excellent alterations, Mr Ball advised Tancred to go ahead with the course and sign the lease to start North Wales Golf Club.