Club History
Portal GC

Having spent 30 years as a member, through all its ups and downs, I have never been bored playing this Course. We have a great venue, and now we have hopefully sorted out Covid, we can all begin to enjoy our golf again, good or bad, and enjoy the company and camaraderie of our fellow members.

- Gil Perry -

Premier Course - The Early Years

Oaklands Golf Club opened on 14th May 1990 for a Pro-Am and opened to members 15th May. Andrew Murray carried out the official opening. Andrew was a winner of European tour events {see plaque outside of Reception},

One of our past Presidents, Bert Platt, owned the acreage on which the Course was to be built, and he also, prior to sale, had arranged the planning permission for a golf course.

The original owners were Weaver Homes, and the Directors visited Florida to check on what design the Clubhouse should look like before construction, so hence the current design and build.

Tim Rouse designed the Course. Tim was a PGA Pro and a member of the Midlands PGA committee and was built by the aforementioned Weaver Homes, using the Head Greenkeepers expertise.
At that time this was Charlie Williams (ex Lytham Green Drive) assisted by his number 2 Justin Lee. Justin eventually became our Head Greenkeeper.

During construction of the Course, due to drought and with water facilities not yet installed on the greens, we lost 6.5 greens. The only turf growing at that time was clay-based, this was purchased and the greens repaired. For several years afterwards permanent verti draining and hollow tining had to be done to get rid of the clay in the greens.
Worth noting that during the Pro-Am,, we were putting through gaps in the turf. Sad that the owners didn't allow more time before opening, but understandable as the bank interest rate before construction was 6% and on opening was 16%.

Please see image below of the winners of the opening competition on the 16th May 1990. It is great to report that Clwyd Roberts in 1st place and Ray Houlton in 3rd place are still playing their golf here at the Club.

Difficult Times

During the following years, our Club went through some very difficult times. Administration run by Grant Thornton and the then PGA {Paul Burroughs} on behalf of the bank. At that time the members sorted out a fighting fund in an attempt to purchase the Club. We appointed Touche Ross (top accounting & advisory company) to assist along with a leading Knutsford solicitor. The bank wanted £3m, but Touche Ross advised £1.5m but with goodwill £1.8m - the bank did not accept. Then we met a bank official who came up from London H/Q to discuss the possibility of a 99yr Lease arrangement. When we worked out how much each member would have to contribute the price equated to £2.8m. We advised the bank representative to catch the next train back to London!

In 1995 our Club was purchased by Arderne PLC who already owned the Championship Course. Arderne's main Shareholders were Ferranti. The CEO was Michael Taylor of Taylor Jenkins estate agents and who was also the Chief Trustee. Another director was David Wills. David was a PGA touring Pro and at one time held 11 Course records.

First Captains

Our professionals at the Club on opening were Judy Statham & Brian Rimmer (Brian moved on after spending approx. 2-3 years with us). The owners asked Jim Holcroft who was an ex Surrey Captain to be the 1st President of the Club, sadly Jim is no longer with us.

Twenty to thirty members were invited to a meeting to discuss the way forward, and discussions took place regarding the appointment of Captains. During the meeting, I was asked and was honoured to accept the role of Captain of the Club. In regard to the Lady Captain, none of the Ladies at the meeting appeared to be keen, but during the conversation, we were told that Rosemary Lilley had some golf experience. Even though she was on holiday at the time, Rosemary was made Lady Captain and was then told the good news on return from holiday - end of problem!

We then formed Committees, Handicaps, Competitions, Social, Disciplinary & Trophies. It was our intention to create a Members Club within a Proprietary Club. I believe we were successful.
After the 1st year, Rosemary and I were asked to do another year, which we both agreed to do.

The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse originally had a Swimming Pool, Jacuzzi and Gym. The pool, obviously no water in it now, lies beneath the floor of the Greens room. The Jacuzzi used to be in the alcove in the Greens. The gym closed and is now part of the kitchen just off the Greens room.

I mentioned earlier that we formed a Disciplinary Committee. That Committee comprised of President Jim Holdcroft, Lady Captain Rosemary Lilley and myself and it was soon in action. On one evening of a members function - a few drinks were being consumed (that's probably an understatement!) and it was conveyed to us that a member with his wife/girlfriend had decided to skinny dip in the pool. Reliable sources confirmed the matter, but I didn't look myself as I wasn't quite quick enough! He was banned for six months and never returned. Another incident occurred in the car park one evening; one of the Directors was seen hitting the chef. He was also banned from playing for a period. Hey-ho !!!

The Ladies

The Ladies section was formed and grew steadily from opening day in numbers and at one time exceeded 70 from a starting figure of 13. We were one of the few clubs where Lady members had equal parity with Male members. Mixed Competitions proved popular at that time (as they still are today).

Judy Statham, our Lady Professional, ran clinics & rules nights and made the Ladies aware of the etiquette of the game. She introduced a stroke index for the Ladies having used the Men's indexing before this change.

In January 1992 the Ladies section comprised 46 members, all with playing Handicaps. Our Ladies joined the West Cheshire Shield and in the first year achieved a great result by getting to the Final at Royal Liverpool. Sadly they were beaten by Delamere Forest.

In 1994 & 1998 the Ladies won the East Cheshire & West Cheshire Shield, so these achievements put our Ladies well on the map.

Our Ladies have always played an important role in the running of our Club, both day-to-day and serving on Council and Committees.

It's worth making a note that during the Ladies functions & matches the sale of red wine from the bar exceeded availability at times, thus breaking long-standing drinking records in Cheshire golf. Say no more!

The Seniors

The Senior's section was formalised in 1996, although they were quite active prior to that. A small committee was elected in 1996 comprising of -Frank Town (Seniors Organiser), Brian Ritter (Handicap Secretary), Mike King (Match Secretary) assisted by Mike Twaits. Our Senior's group became very active and a few hours each Monday morning was allocated as their slot, for Qualifying and non Qualifying competitions.

A few light-hearted moments from the Seniors'. By way of example, Les Payne allowing his trolley, along with bag, to traverse the 18th fairway through the fence and finish up in the deep part of the 17th lake. Bearing in mind his car keys & wallet were in his bag he was concerned, but all was not lost as the Green staff retrieved said items via a ladder.

More recently, another incident occurred in the 17th lake when 'Tom Daley (Olympic Diver)' fell in whilst playing a tough shot. His playing partners had a meeting (in the region of ten minutes) to debate if pulling him out was the right thing to do? After a vote they pulled him out.
When asked what the hell was he doing swimming in the lake, his reply was "Macdonald promotes HOTEL GOLF & SPA, so he was making full use of the SPA facilities. GUESS WHO was 'Tom Daley'??

South Cheshire Golf Captains (SCGC)

Our Club was well respected by now and having failed to join the North Cheshire Golf Captains we decided to form the South Cheshire Captains. Our first competition was held on the Premier course Oaklands on the 7th June 1993.

Geoff Mullholland, an ex-Captain of our Club and Kevin Meachin (Deputy President of the Cheshire Union), played a significant role in setting this up, the initial members were as follows:

* Oaklands Golf Club, Congleton, Macclesfield, Heyrose & Crewe.

Later to be joined by:

* Vale Royal, Astbury, Alsager & Sandbach

These clubs still take it in turns to host the South Cheshire Captains a few times per season. The SCGC 25th Anniversary Competition and Dinner was held at Portal on 1st May 2018.