Since 2006 the Masons of Woolton have been meeting at Woolton Golf Club which has an 18-hole, par 69 (5,747 yard) private parkland golf course that was established in 1901. The address is ‘Doe Park’ and the land was originally a deer park for the Molyneux family.
When the estate came up for auction in the late 1890’s it was purchased by Lewis Cohen, a director of Lewis’s, who bought one of two lots of land to create a golf course. A nine-hole course was ready to play by the end of 1900 and with undulating fairways, testing approach shots and quick greens it will still keep golfers on their toes throughout a round. Sure and steady will win the day there!
An interesting fact about the purchase is that on a Sunday afternoon in 1906, two determined men hurried down the platform for the London train in Lime Street Station. One was carrying a leather holdall with the whole of Saturday’s takings from Lewis’s – Liverpool’s largest department store. They stayed overnight in a London hotel and the next morning were outside a solicitor’s office, waiting for it to open.
The reason for this drama was that land on the north side of Speke Road was up for sale and there was at least one other interested party. The rival, it was learned on the Saturday afternoon, intended to complete the purchase at 10:00am on the Monday. At that time purchases had to be in cash. Being a weekend, the banks were closed, so no cash was available. All seemed lost. It was then that Lewis Cohen offered to lend them all of Lewis’s Saturday’s takings to provide the cash. The purchase was completed just ahead of the rival. It was the vision of Lewis Cohen, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, director of Lewis’s Ltd, benefactor to Liverpool’s poor and a keen golfer.
Lewis Samuel Cohen was a director of Lewis’s Limited and regarded as one of the country’s greatest shopkeepers. In 1899 he purchased Doe Park, the house and 45.428 acres, and when the estate came up for auction in the late 1890s, Cohen bought one of two lots of land to create a golf course. The course was ready for play towards the end of 1900 and Woolton Golf Club was born with nine holes – hence the later determination to obtain the land in 1906 to extend to 18 holes. From all this it can be seen that Woolton Golf Club was virtually Lewis Cohen’s creation.
It was founded with a deliberately liberal ethos, the success of which can be judged that by 1914 there had been Anglican, Jewish, Non-conformist and Catholic Captains of the Club. The second signature in the membership book is that of a lady and although the date cannot be established it can be said that the ladies had a vote very early in the club’s existence.
After lockdown the Masons returned to find a newly refurbished clubhouse; a great deal of hard work had taken place by so many people and one review on the website states, “Massively improved course and club. What a transformation – plenty of modernism around the clubhouse. During lockdowns they’ve used the time well. Still the best greens in Liverpool and the course improvements with the ditches will hopefully help with the winter conditions. There are three new bars and new carpeting and furniture throughout”. To view their website, click here.
Woolton Golf Club is only six miles from Liverpool city centre, a fact that is hard to fathom at times given that, as you plot your way around its 18 immensely challenging holes, the hustle and bustle of the boisterous city jour de vie couldn’t seem more remote. The only thing that keeps you in touch with reality is the hum of the aircraft that pass overhead as the course is near Liverpool International Airport.
The Masons are very proud to call this home and with a new chef, Jim, who has created some very interesting menus giving lodges a choice of two courses at £14.50, three courses at £17 or £19, and the food is excellent. Those Masons attending look forward to enjoying their Freemasonry at Woolton Golf Club with its unique history and three new bar areas.
J F Clegg (Cleggie) was a power in the club for 50 years. He inspired the formation of Liverpool Golf Captains, and it is due to him that Woolton was accorded the privilege of holding its St Andrew’s Night Dinner, always on November 30. He was captain of the society from 1939 to 1948 and the first five annual competitions 1908, 1911, 1912, 1920 and 1921 were all held at Woolton.
Frank Fawcett was the best-known member in the post-war period. He won the Monaco Open in 1953 and the Formby Hare in 1955. His name is on the Formby Honours Board and on the Woolton Board a staggering 77 times. He played for Lancashire and was President of Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, President of the English Golf Union, member of the R & A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) and Chairman of the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU). His experiments led to the introduction of broad wheeled trolleys.
Story and pictures by Colin Roberts.