Founded on Merrow Downs in 1886, Guildford Golf Club enjoys a wealth of history and tradition, as well as an excellent golf course. The course occupies land which was once part of the Onslow Estate, so vividly described by Rudyard Kipling in his "Just So" stories, and until 1870 was the site of a well known race course.
The Club was founded by Colonel W. Bannatyne, Major W. Pontifex and Mr E.L. Hooper, who were resident in the neighbourhood, and the Lord of the Manor, the 4th Earl of Onslow gave his support to the project. Major Pontifex also provides a unique link with the Pau Golf Club, at the foot of the Pyrenees in France, as he and two other members of Guildford Golf Club, Colonel Hutchinson and Archdeacon Spate were founder members of the Pau Golf Club in 1856.
The original six holes quickly expanded to eighteen and by 1901 a new Clubhouse had been built on the present site. During this period the course was gradually moved eastwards to occupy its present location.
There was also a ladies course until about 1900 when the men relented and allowed the Ladies Club to share their course. In 1919 a second men's club, Guildford Town Club was formed to meet the golfing aspirations of local residents and tradespeople. Up until both Men's Clubs amalgamated in 1974 there existed two Clubhouses, with the use of the Course and maintenance costs being shared. Guildford Ladies Golf Club remained independent until its amalgamation with the Men's Club in January 2005. They retain their identifty as the Ladies Section of the Club, to be known as Guildford Ladies Golf Club.
The Golf Course remained largely unchanged until 1925 when the committee invited Mr J.H. Taylor and his partner Mr Hawtree to recommend improvements. By 1927 they had introduced a number of new short holes, eliminated several blind shots and created some additional bunkers. Seventy years later the Course was again updated, this time under the guidance of Golf Course Designer, Mr Howard Swan.
The Course is situated on typical Surrey downland bordered by attractive woodlands. The rolling slopes provide an excellent example of the open commons on which the majority of inland course were laid out when golf first became popular in England. Situated as it is on chalk, it is acknowledged to be one of the best all weather courses in Surrey. Although not a long course, the prevailing winds across the open downs provide a measure of protection from modern equipment and low scoring is rare. From the highest part of the Course it is possible to see four Counties, on a clear day Canary Warf and the City of London can be seen. There are many memorable golf holes to be negotiated that will challenge each player to master a vast array of shots before returning to enjoy the comforts of the Clubhouse. Finish your visit by relaxing in the 19th Lounge or Gallery Bar.
The Clubhouse has been enlarged and modernised to provide up to date facilities. These improvements have been a great success and the Clubhouse has now been widely acclaimed as one of the best in the South East.