Early in the 20th Century, landlords, Clovelly Estates, owned a golf course, situated alongside the Silvermine River in the Fish Hoek Valley. This was home to the Clovelly Golf Club. When they went into liquidation, during the Great Depression of the early 1930’s, the members of the Club tried to buy the course from the executors of the insolvent estate. Unfortunately their bid was not successful. The course was bought by Messrs Ackerman and Pevsner and they formed the Clovelly Country Club. Membership was offered to all members of the original Clovelly Golf Club, but the majority of the members decided to move away and purchase their own golf club.
The members of the old Clovelly Golf Club had their eye on a farm, “Raapkraal”, at the foot of the Silverminemountains near Lakeside, for their new course. On the 31st March 1932, a meeting was setup in the Kalk Bay Anglican School, between the members and the farm owner, an elderly dairyman, Mr. Hendricks. The members agreed to the terms of Mr. Hendricks’ lease and subsequently formed a new golf club, called Westlake. ‘Oupa’ Harrison then moved his ‘brood’ of 112 golfers to their new home on the other side of the mountain.
The lease of “Raapkraal” farm (55.369 morgen) was for nine years, with an option to renew for a further nine years at a fixed rate of £10 per month. A cottage on the farm, included in the lease, was altered to become the first clubhouse. The founder members, under the watchful eye of “Oupa” Harrison and Mr. H.B. “Pop” Lee, all contributed in some way or another, to the layout of the new course, be it in time, effort or cash. The original layout of the course ran up and down the mountain slope, as opposed to the present layout, which runs along the gradient of the mountain. The nine-hole course was opened for play on the 1st September 1932. The inaugural competition was won by Dennis Langton, who later became the Club Champion. He was tragically killed in action during World War II.
The constitution was drawn up by Mr. Tudhope, a local attorney, and the bye-laws were adopted in 1933. Subscriptions were three guineas per annum. At the first Annual General Meeting in March 1933, it was decided that every effort must be made to extend Westlake into an eighteen-hole course. In 1934, appointed architect Dr. D.C. Murray, drew up a course design very similar to today’s layout. Work began almost immediately after the members had approved these plans.
Mr. Hendricks was now elderly and wished to sell the farm. He offered the course and clubhouse to the Westlake members for the sum of £5500. The price was accepted and the course changed hands in October 1935. This gave the members new impetus, as they were now the proud owners of their own golf course. The new 18-hole layout was completed shortly after, and the first competition was played on 14th April 1936, amid much pomp and ceremony.
Westlake was soon on the golfing map. 1938 saw the Club win the Stephan Trophy for the first time – a first league interclub tournament which is still keenly contested today. Individual players excelled too. Mr. Otway Hayes (son of Dr.J.O.Hayes – a founder and honorary life member) receiving his Springbok colours in 1937. He went on to win the SA Amateur in Durban in 1939 and was runner-up in the Natal Open in the same year.
A new clubhouse was built in 1939 along the traditional gabled Cape Dutch lines. It was designed by Captain Elsworth, a well-respected and leading architect. Unfortunately the war years (1939-1945) took a toll on the Club’s finances and membership. Three members were killed in action and membership dropped to 50. It was only through the efforts of the elderly members Messrs T. Stevenson, H.B. Lee, E.Tudhope, A.H. Ashley-Cooper and W.H. Short, that Westlake kept going thought this tragic period. Later, they were all rewarded with Honorary Life membership.
After the war, Westlake received a membership boost with many keen, young ex-servicemen joining the Club. A tremendous immigration drive from the UK during the late 1940’s increased numbers further. Membership soared from 87 in 1945 to 255 in 1948. The influx of new members, initiated by “Mr. Westlake” – Rex Walker, ensured that Westlake remained on a sound footing. Rex also understood that water is vital for the survival of any golf course. He successfully negotiated with the Cape Town City Council for the sole use of the Silvermine Reservoir overflow, known as “brown water”, to irrigate the course. A pipeline was subsequently constructed and became the main source of additional water supply for nearly fifty years. It was not until recent linkage with Steenberg Estate’s effluent water system that “brown” water ceased to be the main alternate water source. The Steenberg linkage was an historic milestone in the history of Westlake, resulting in a fully reticulated watering system for the course in 2006. This system has assisted Westlake’s rapid transformation, into one of the premier golf courses in the Western Cape.
Since 1935, Westlake has seen many course improvements. The most recent being the re-building of the 4th, 7th, 8th and 11th greens in 2004. The clubhouse has also had no less than four extensions and improvements in the last twenty years. The last being in 2000. Well known golfers have praised the layout and conditions of the golf course, among those being, Bobby Locke in the 1950’s and 60’s and Gary Player in the 1980’sand again earlier this year! Thanks to the design contributions of various architects and course designers, today’s Westlake boasts excellent amenities in a modern setting.
In 1978, Westlake was the first golf club in the Cape to initiate a golf festival weekend. The second Westlake Golf Festival Weekend raised sufficient funds to remove the pine forest behind the Clubhouse and build a driving range (which was reduced by the road extension to OuKaapseWeg). Over the years this event has raised over half a million Rand which was used for the course and clubhouse improvements. Westlake’s Festival week has now become a fun-filled year-long affair and the concept has been adopted by many other local clubs.
To date, Westlake has hosted the SA Intervarsity Golf Championships the SA Under-23 Interprovincial, the Nomads Nationals, the 1999 SA Amateur Championships, and the 2011 Western Province Amateur Championships. More recently, Westlake played host to the Inter Provincial Tournament in 2014, and this year the S.A Ladies Open (which is part of the European Tour) and the Gary Player/Ronan Keating Golf Day were both hugely successful. Both events are scheduled to return in 2019! This bears testament to the quality conditions of the course and facilities.
Throughout the history of Westlake, camaraderie and club spirit have abounded. Over the years, many members have come forward and given both time and effort to ensure the ongoing growth and popularity of the Club. This has rubbed off on the staff, many of whom have been employed by the Club for decades.
Today, Westlake is a thriving club with a very capable committee and management team supported by an active membership made up of three sections, namely men (including the Westlake Aged Gentlemen’s Society – WAGS), ladies and prentices. With such a sound base, Westlake Golf Club will continue to write history and be one of the premier golf courses in the Western Cape.