Thirty years ago, the inspired decision was made to create an 18-hole golf course on the Bowood Estate. It’s hard to imagine today when there are many golf courses embedded in our countryside, but in the 1990’s it was a courageous decision to expand on Bowood’s hospitality and transform agricultural land into a leading golf course.
The completed golf course and clubhouse were officially opened on 23rd May 1992 as the Bowood Golf & Country Club.
“The sheer joy of entering the Golden Gates seeing the course unfold makes my heart leap, remembering what it originally looked like. It was fairly scruffy farmland, nothing to be proud of. The thrill of seeing the Clubhouse, Conference Centre, and Hotel, recalling what it looked like in 1989 lifts the spirits. In the western corner of this outstanding park, we have now created something to be really proud of.
Thirty years since its inception, the course is acknowledged as one of the top PGA courses in the southwest. This legacy has been achieved thanks to not only Dave Thomas creating the course, but to umpteen skilled, dedicated individuals, all of whom should share with me the excitement of this creation.”
During the 1950’s and 60’s Dave Thomas was widely recognised as one of the top players competing in the UK and continental Europe. He won several tournaments and national opens during this time.
Upon retirement from the game in the early 70’s, Dave then moved into design and with an excellent reputation, created dozens of courses for a wide variety of clients for the next 20 years.
Dave based his Bowood design around the existing mature trees and plantations, all of which were retained, including a fine oak left standing on the 6th fairway. Construction commenced on the 27th June 1990.
Following the confirmation of planning permission in 1989, work began on the golf course and clubhouse in 1990. The course was to be constructed over some 193 acres of parkland formerly in agricultural use.
The completed golf course and clubhouse were officially opened on 23rd May 1992 as the Bowood Golf & Country Club and rapidly gained an excellent reputation.
In 2019, Bowood became the official PGA Golf Course & Academy Course for the South West.
Today over 40,000 golf rounds are played each year and membership numbers have reached in excess of 500, with a waitlist in place.
Bowood was honoured in 2019 to join The PGA’s growing portfolio of branded properties worldwide as The Official PGA Golf Course and PGA Golf Academy for the South West.
Joining the elite group of PGA Branded Properties around the world, such as past Ryder Cup venues The Belfry and Gleneagles, together with other exceptional resorts like Aphrodite Hills as the PGA National Cyprus and Antalya Golf Club as the PGA National Turkey.
As part of its relationship with The PGA, Bowood has become the home of the English PGA Championship and will prove to be a testing examination for the players playing in this iconic event at Bowood.
Quote from Lord Lansdowne in 2019:
“We are delighted to have been endorsed by The PGA as an accredited golf course and academy, and we are extremely proud that our championship golf course has reached the high standard required to bear The PGA name. This endorsement reflects the dedication of our outstanding team at Bowood.”
Jordan Smith is a professional golfer and is currently ranked 120 in the World. He won the Porsche European Open in 2017 and continues to tour worldwide.
Jordan has been a member of Bowood Golf Club since 2005, after moving to nearby Derry Hill village at the age of 13. He picked up a club for the first time and was hooked straight away. We had a brief chat with him about his career and his ongoing affinity with Bowood.
What did you most enjoy about playing back then?
I think as a kid we all enjoyed trying to hit the ball as far as we could and getting as much back spin as possible. Luckily enough there was a great group of kids at the club when I joined, so that meant playing at Bowood was competitive and fun.
Did you have any idea back then that you would become so successful, and that golf would become your career?
Definitely not! I was more into my football and rugby at the time, and generally better at those sports than golf, but that quickly changed.
What advice would you give to our juniors playing at Bowood?
Don’t get worked up or angry if you hit a bad shot or have a bad round. At the end of the day, it’s only golf. If golf is the path you want to take, then practice is key. You need to practice all the shots all the time and in all conditions.
How often do you get chance to return to Bowood for a round?
Unfortunately not as much as I would like as I’m away so much on tour. But I always enjoying coming back as it brings back such good memories and it’s great seeing all the members and catching up.
You have always been a great supporter of Bowood, what makes it so special?
Bowood created my career and I’ll always call it my home club. I owe a lot to Bowood and the members. Without the support and encouragement early on, I might not have accomplished everything I have so far.
On Friday 13th May, Bowood’s golf members celebrated the 30th anniversary with a black-tie ball in the Kerry Suite. All current and past golf captains were present, as was Jordan Smith. There was also a charity auction on the night, raising much-needed funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
Club competitions took place over the weekend with a barbecue and prize giving by Lord Lansdowne taking place late afternoon. Thank you to everyone for making the 30th celebrations one to remember.
Here’s our Head Greenkeeper Jaey Goodchild (looking incredibly dapper) and his wife Marie at the event. View more photos from the Ball and the whole weekend of competitions below.