History of Shooters Hill Golf Club

Shooters Hill Golf Club

I was playing golf in southeast London last weekend with a former lady captain when conversation turned to the history of our course, Shooter’s Hill Golf Club and the local area.  Dick Turpin, Hitler’s doodlebugs and Bobby Locke, in no particular order, but it turns out Shooters Hill is positively steeped in history. I was captivated and immediately consulted Google on my return home.

The name ‘Shooters Hill’ was first recorded in 1226 and reputedly takes its name from the practice of archery there during the Middle Ages. The name is also commonly linked to its reputation as a haunt for highwaymen and was infamous for its gibbets of the executed ones as referred to in 1661 in Samuel Pepys diary.

The summit provided excellent cover for Highwaymen and footpads who preyed on unsuspecting travellers. It was also here that they were hung and their bodies displayed in gibbets.  Perhaps the most notorious, and paradoxically the most romantic highwayman of all, was the ubiquitous Dick Turpin who is said to have ‘worked’ the hill and who took advantage of the dark woods for his dark deeds.

Golf was first played at Shooter’s Hill in 1903 when a 9-hole course was opened. In 1907 a full 18-hole course was designed by Willie Park and then completely remodelled in the 1930’s by Messrs Harris and Colt.

In 1939, half of the golf course was requisitioned for the establishment of an anti-aircraft battery to protect London. Part of the clubhouse became the headquarters of the Home Guard and in the latter years, a prisoner of war camp for some 1000 German and Italian prisoners. A 7-foot high wire fence surrounded the camp with the cookhouse situated by the 17th green.

Incredibly, the remaining 9-holes continued to be played even though the course sustained considerable damage from bombing. Indeed, a grass bunker on the 8th hole today is testament to the terrifying power of the doodlebug bomb.

After the war years, the course and clubhouse facilities were restored and fully re-opened for play in 1951. The big match of that year was an exhibition played by Bobby Locke and Alf Padgham. Bobby set a course record of 65.
Shooter’s Hill Road stretches eastwards from the heath at Blackheath over the hill and follows the route of Watling Street, a Roman Road linking London with Roman settlements in north Kent. This was used as a route for horse-drawn mail-coaches linking London with Dover. Passers-by who visit the landmark water tower on the hill and the nearby woods are walking in the steps of ancient Britons, Romans, Saxons and later, William III. On the northern side of the summit lies a burial ground from possibly the Bronze Age.

At 432 feet, Shooters Hill is the highest point in South London and offers sensational views over the Kent countryside, River Thames with a panoramic skyline of central London clearly visible.

Shooter’s Hill Golf Club has continued to thrive and many visitors are surprised to find such an attractive course only 8-miles from London Bridge.

The course is a challenging but fair test of golf with its rolling fairways and excellent greens for golfers of all abilities.


As the golf season kick’s off, Shooter’s Hill is offering lady golfers a new starter package from April 2012 with a free open social event at the club on Wednesday 4th April at 12 noon and Wednesday 18th April at 7.30pm. From complete beginners to experienced players, come see the club and meet the members. Everyone is welcome.

For more information telephone Amanda Buckland on 0208 854 6368 or visit the Shooter’s Hill Golf Club website for more information.


6 Comments on “History of Shooters Hill Golf Club

  1. lived in the aarea for seventy years and didnt know about Dick Turpin. Execellent article

  2. Hi Haley, I love your blog, I have lots of history of Shooters Hill I researched it many years ago, We had a jounalist called Jimmy Green. who was a member and wrote a booklet on it. and I have pictures of the prisoner of war camp done by a german prisoner.
    and lots more.

    Very good work

    Marian Parker

    • Thanks for your feedback Marian, sounds facsinating, would love to explore the history further. Amazing stuff. Will be in touch. Thanks, Hayley

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