image: The Rt. Hon. Arthur James Balfour (Prime Minister 1902 – 1905)
Although the precise origins and personal connections are unclear, there is little doubt that the Golf Club was formed very much as a country golf club for the Palace of Westminster and the legal profession, with the nobility playing a major part in its early years. Unfortunately it has not been possible to trace the first full list of members. Nevertheless, there are membership records commenced in 1911 with the starting date of those who joined earlier. Undoubtedly in the four years from the founding of the Club to 1911 there will have been a significant fall-out of original members, for whom no precise record exists. Interestingly, however, of those members recorded in 1911 are to be found:
- Two prime ministers: The Earl of Oxford and Asquith, the Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Asquith (P.M. 1908-1915) and The Earl of Balfour, the Rt. Hon. Arthur James Balfour (P.M. 1902 – 1905)
- One Marquis: The Marquis of Bath
- Seventeen Lords: The Lords Aberconway, Lurgan, Grimthorpe, Desborough, Islington, Oswald, Wenlock & Hardinge of Penshurst (Viceroy of India) plus the Earls of Chesterfield, Dartmouth, Dudley, Eldon, Howe, Kinnoul and Westmoreland. Also there were the two Prime Ministers mentioned above
- Four Viscounts: The Viscounts Hambledon, Lascelles, Peel and Valletort
- Nine Barons and Knights: Sir Alexander Henderson Bart., Sir Thomas Troubridge Bart., the Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Milner, Sir C Maclaren Bart., Sir J Brunner, Sir Ernest Cable, Sir J Dickson-Poynder Bart. M.P., Sir H Woodburn Kirby and Sir H Seton-Karr
- One Count: Count Werner Wolff Metternich
- Two Generals: General E Grove and General David Henderson
- Various Members of Parliament: These included Archibald Grove, Sir J Dickson-Poynder, Arnold Ward and Alfred Lyttleton (Secretary of State for the Colonies 1903-1905 and famous athlete – played cricket and football for England and for seven years was English Real Tennis Champion)
- Finally, to add financial stimulus, Leopold de Rothschild!
image: The Earl of Oxford and Asquith, the Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Asquith (Prime Minister 1908-1915)
Quite an impressive list – no wonder the founders had high expectations when they first put their money into the venture! And no wonder the Club was very much an elite country club in those early days, with the majority of the members coming from Central London.
So elite in fact, that a minute from May 1910 makes interesting reading:
“The Secretary was instructed to write to Miss Kerr, lady in waiting to HSH Princess Louis of Battenburg and ask her to inform Prince Louis that the Committee would be glad if he and his family would consider themselves honorary members of the Club. The same to apply to Prince & Princess Andrew of Greece during their stay in England.”
Prince Andrew did accept the invitation and was introduced by Lord Chesham the following month.