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JSGC(E) - a brief history





Before the area of the course was purchased by MOD and the tunnel was built, the land was owned by the Houry family who used it for grazing horses, bringing them round from the area which is now Lemmings Beach by use of a raft.


Prior to the tunnel’s completion in 1955 keen golfers would walk down the cliff path (from the Officers Mess to behind the present Halfway House) to hit a few balls without there being a course.  In those days and well into the early 80s that path was frequently used by ‘livers in’ and residents of Kensington.  It was well maintained and the remnants of a railing can still be seen.


When the tunnel was finished, the RC Padre at the time, a fanatical golfer who had probably been one of those walking down the cliff path to hit a few balls, realised what a splendid location the land would make for a golf course and persuaded the Sappers to drive their bulldozers in various directions, thus creating the very first fairways. Apparently, he would persuade those ‘livers-in’ who had not gone to church on Sunday mornings, to walk down the cliff path and pick up stones from the 'course'. For some years there was no grass cutting equipment and so, when the grass got too long, the members - having first warned the fire service - used to line up across the fairways and matches in hand, set fire to the grass!


Course Layout:


Up until 1997 the course consisted of three sets of 6 holes: 1-6, then a loop of what is now 9-13 and 8, and a final 6 holes of what is now 7 and 14-18.  The shed behind the present 7th tee was then “half way house” although actually one third and two thirds round the course.  Playing 12 holes was easy, missing out the middle loop and ending on the 18th.  That was the norm over the hot summer months.  The present half way house, when constructed, would have been halfway when playing holes 1-6 and then moving onto 9-13.


Prior to 1986 there was no Starter’s Hut.  All “starting etc” was done in the (old) Club House.  In 1986 the then Club Captain, Ernie Morris a senior member of PSA, built a wooden hut to be the Starter’s Hut.  When the current Starter’s Hut was built with bricks and mortar around about the same time as the shop/office, the original wooden hut was moved to its present position behind the 7th tee and the old Halfway House shed was demolished.  The plaque detailing the build in 1986 is still on the outside wall of the hut.


But the course layout was changed in 1997 when Flt Sgt Steve Howard was Club Captain; and it’s changed little since then except for the location of some of the tees on the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes.


16th: The yellow tee used to be where the present red tee is; and  the then red tee was a few yards further forward. In 1983 the yellow tee was moved further up the hill, where the path from the 15th then ended. The red tee was brought back to where the yellow tee had been and the hole was changed from a par 4 to a par 5 – albeit briefly as the original measurement of the hole was found to be incorrect so it reverted to a par 4. That lasted a year when it was then decided that the degree of difficulty merited a par 5 and a path was laid and a tee located further up the hill where the yellow tee is now. And the red tee was finally established where it is today. The original concrete basis for the old tees are still there.

17th: The yellow tee was originally just behind the current red tee. In 1986 it was moved to where the ground staff currently pile up cuttings and other rubbish for burning. In 1997 it was moved back up the hill but into the cliff face and in 2007 it was moved to its present position.


18th: The yellow tee was where the red tee is now and the red tee was around 50 yards further forward. In 2008 the present yellow tee was constructed and the red tee brought back to where the yellow tee had been. This also changed this hole from a par 4 to a par 5.


Before the 16th and 18th holes were extended the par for the course was 69.


In 1991 hole 1 was renamed COLUMBIA in recognition of the generosity of Columbia Pissouri Beach Hotel (now Columbia Resort) and Heinrich Schoeller (Chairman of Columbia).


Introduction of water.


Prior to 1987 there was no water, other than rain water, on the course.  The greens were “browns”.  Bore holes were dug and pipes laid to the approaches and fringes of several of the browns.  Fresh water was pumped but, unfortunately, turned saline very quickly.  At the end of the First Gulf War in 1991 desalination plants were brought to Cyprus and positioned on the tarred area just before the tunnel.  A large water pipe was placed in the tunnel to bring sea water from the area of the yacht club to the desalination plants.  They were never used but the pipes were reconfigured to take water from Happy Valley to the golf course.  Because of times of excess water the reservoir adjacent to the 15th hole was built.

Introduction of AstroTurf.


This was another huge change to the golf course. An emerging health and safety concern about the constitution of the then ‘browns’ (oil and sand), led to them being replaced in 2000/01 with AstroTurf. It is thought that the idea for Astroturf came from Arthur Birchall, a club member throughout the 80s and 90s, who had seen them while holidaying in the USA. The club used its own funds, together with a sizeable grant from the Nuffield Trust, to purchase the Astroturf greens (from the USA) and have them laid, resulting in the first such greens in Cyprus.


A JSGCE Extraordinary AGM in 2017/18 endorsed a Committee decision to use club funds to begin the replacement of these greens in 2018. Six greens were subsequently replaced, but without the necessary funding to continue the project the course now has twelve original and six new Astroturf greens.


Naming of the Original Holes (with updates for the current course layout)


Up until 1987 there were no names for any of the holes.  Members were asked for suggestions and the Committee decided on 18 names, four of which have changed over the years.  The original 18 holes were:

1. “Tunnel” for obvious reasons but renamed “Columbia” after generous sponsorship by the the owner of the Columbia Hotel.

2.  “Dunkirk”.  A very difficult par 4 and just because you make a mess of it, it does not mean that you will necessarily have a poor score.

3.  “Oil Drums”.  Before AstroTurf greens were laid the greens were “browns”, ie a mixture of oil and sand (mixed in cement mixers) laid on a firm base.  The oil drums were located and the mixing was done to the right in front of the red tee.


4.  “Bushes”. From the yellow tee this could have no other name!


5.  “Seaside”.  What else could it be!


6.  “Gravel Pit”.  In front of and slightly to the right of the red tee, between the tee and the (now) 9th green, was a large mound of gravel.  This was removed in 1992 and because the then Ladies Captain said that it made the tee shot so much easier, the row of oleander trees was planted across the right side of the fairway.


7. (now 9th).  “Snake Path”.  Not sure who saw the snakes!  The "Sanctuary" on the left of the 9th green used to be thick with gorse bushes but this area was cleared and a few fruit trees planted in 1992 by Ian McCardle (SBA Police), the then Grounds Member.  This was to commemorate his son who was in the Royal Marines and killed in an accident on ecercise on Salisbury Plain.


8. (now 10th).  “Griffins Flight”.  Incorrectly spelt after the Griffon vultures that nested on the cliff edges above the hole.


9.  (now 11th).  “Trees”.  There were very many more trees on both sides of this hole than there are today.  Renamed “Halfway House” when the new building was constructed.


10.  (now 12th).  “Cleavage” – wonder why!


11.   (now 13th).  “Dog Leg”, but, renamed “Uncle Ted” to commemorate Ted Cattrall who, after he could no longer play golf, would sit on the bench behind the tee to watch all the players come through.


12.   (now 8th).  “Fergie’s Mound”.  This mound was created by the then Garrison QM, called Ferguson around 1980.


13.   (now 7th).  “Halfway House”.  Because that’s where it was, although only one third and two thirds round the course.  Renamed “The Trees” after the building of the current Halfway House.


14.  “Westward Ho”. What else!


15.  “Plateau”.  Again, an obvious name.


16.  “Cliff-Hanger”.  And what a view it is!


17.  “The Hill”.  Not because of the current position of the tee but because the yellow tee was behind the red tee where the workmen now pile rubbish for burning.  From that tee the hill on which the red tee is positioned intruded from the left with many tee shots being sent into that hill.


18.  “Home”.  Obvious!

Position of Chairman:


Prior to 1996 there never was a Chairman, although there was a President who was nearly always CBF.  The Club Captain was the “OIC - Officer in charge” of the Club.


The one exception to a non-officer Club Captain was Warrant Officer Watt RAF in 1977. He was the Adjutant of 12SU and when the club requested HQ Episkopi Garrison to approve the position of Watt as Club Captain, his rank was not given - it was merely stated that he was Adjutant of 12SU. In those days HQ Episkopi Garrison only commanded the Army in Episkopi and had no dealings with the RAF. To them an Adjutant was always a Captain so they naturally thought he was an officer and gave their approval. When the error was discovered some months later, it was decided that it was too late to change and he

remained as Club Captain.


But in 1997 and to elect a non-officer as Club Captain the post of Chairman (OIC) was created with possibly Mike Farmer the first to hold that post?  Subsequently, after three non-officer captains, Mike became Captain and Chairman in 2000.


Location of the Clubhouse


Historically, Episkopi Garrison had three beach buildings; one for officers, one for SNCOs, and one for junior ranks. These were substantial concrete built tavernas, with patios, changing rooms and toilets.


Sometime in the 1970s, the SNCO's block was demolished and the junior ranks block became a Garrison beach taverna run by Shahab Din The officers' block became the golf club.


This was the case until 1997 when, after a bit of ceiling fell in one of the Garrison married quarters, a survey was carried out on all buildings within the Garrison and the then golf club was deemed to be dangerous. Contrary to being dangerous the old club house was demolished with a great deal of difficulty.  The concrete base of the building can still be seen. The existing clubhouse was the locker room when the old clubhouse was knocked down so the Garrison then moved a surplus Twynham hut from Episkopi to replace the lost toilets and showers.


Adolfos Kanneti appointed as an Honorary Member of the JSGCE in 2023, built what is now the club office and ran a shop therein.

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