An Interview with Dave Searles, original member of the club.
When did you join the club?
I joined the club when it started, you joined by signing in at a table in the bar. I still have a membership card from 1978. (shown below) You needed the card to prove you were a member.Click image to enlarge
How old were you at the time?
I was 37 years old when I joined 40 years ago
What were your family circumstances?
I was married with a boy 18 and a girl 14 in 1972. I have been married 59 years now and looking forward to celebrating my 60th wedding anniversary next year. I was married 2 days before the queen's coronation. I was working at Rochester Motors when I joined.
What was your handicap when you joined the club?
I was playing off 24 but got down to 13. At 77, My handicap has gone up again.
Which way around were the holes when you joined?
The holes were the same way round that they are now. When they changed them around it took the pressure off the last two holes as 17 and 18 were the short par 3 and an easy par 5. It is better now it is back to how it was originally as it makes it tough to hold onto a good score. The other things that have changed about the course is that the trees were all small in the early days and the 9th hole did not have a ditch on the right hand side just a fence. There was no driving range and the pitch and putt had not been built when the course opened.
What was the club house like?
I remember the stewards quarters were where the kitchen is now. The bar was only a serving table really, not like it is now. The Jarvis's who ran the bar had a £25 quid prize for anyone who managed an eagle on cardiac, I don't think anyone ever won it. We used to go to Deangate for dinner as a lot of people did then. I had a running joke with the staff that I couldn't finish their T Bone steak. The steaks kept getting bigger and bigger but i was never beaten! They thought they had me once when the steak wasn't finished until I told them that I had had the duck and the steak was my brother's. You don't see people coming to Deangate for T Bone steak and Duck dinners nowadays.
How did you book for competitions?
I used to have to get to the clubhouse around 5am on a Saturday, queue up for a tee time, get the time then go home to ring my mates to tell them what time we had. People forget that in those days the bar shut at 2pm so everyone wanted an early tee time so they could have a beer after the round!
How did you start off with Golf?
I used to play at Snodhurst Bottom Pitch and Putt. When Deangate opened I didn't have any clubs but I was helping a mate who was an ex Spurs player, pick up a fridge. He had some clubs in his garage he didn't use so he gave them to me for helping out. They were hickory shafted woods with persimmon heads and irons. I had a putter and wedge from playing pitch and putt. I later got a new set of Wilson Blue Ridge. I used to play Penfold Ace and Commando balls.Click image to enlarge.
What was the first important competition you won?
The first competition I won was Captains day in 1976. I got a silver salver and 6 goblets. The third prize was a putter donated by Chatham news and I was a bit miffed that they interviewed the third prize winner for the paper and not me! They did apologise later though.
Where did you go from there?
i stopped playing at Deangate in 1978 and joined Rochester and Cobham for a number of years. Deangate cost around £36 a year whereas Rochester cost £90 plus a £90 joining fee. It was good if you could afford it, as it meant no more waiting outside the pro shop at 5 in the morning. A lot of players learned to play at Deangate and then moved to Rochester and Cobham. Some of my original playing partners are still members there. I have a magazine which shows what they used to sell to Rochester and Cobham including special boots for horses! Horses needed to wear them when they were walking on the greens dragging the green mower behind them. I rejoined Deangate when I retired and have been here ever since and won a few trophies and made a lot of friends along the way.