Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 15th 2014
Rabbit for Tee Time
Located south of Croydon Road, Mitcham Golf Club is about a minute's walk from Mitcham Junction's train and tram stop. The eighteen hole course covers a large portion of Mitcham Common, having been leased the land in 1891 by the Conservators.
Over the years, golfing there became a popular leisure activity, so a Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley bought it, and build a clubhouse by the railway.
Mitcham Common Clubhouse
Now owned by a 1st Baronet and Tory politician, it became one of the most exclusive golf club in the country, reserved for the likes of the members of Parliament, and other aristocrats. Members and distinguished visitors included Earl of Chesterfield, AJ Balfour, Tom Dunn, and Mr Disraeli. Unfortunately, evidence of their visits were lost in 1932 when a fire burnt down the clubhouse, and destroyed the Vellum Book of signatures. The present clubhouse was built on the same site.
Buggies are available to hire.
The land is made up of unique moorland turf, which makes it one of the driest golf courses in the country, and playable all year round. With plenty of natural hazards, and tactfully placed bunkers, it is challenging even for seasoned gamers.
In 1924, the Club's lease ended, and due to the economic harship of the First World War, Mallaby-Deeley did not have the funds to renew. In order to keep the club in business, the land was presented back to Conservators. The common was once again made available to visitors, while still allowing the golf course to remain for an annual fee.
Membership rates vary from social, family, corporate, junior, and many more, so you can pick the type that suits your needs best. If you have never played before, or need practice, their teacher, Mark Fluskey offers lessons starting from £17.50 for juniors or £25 for adults. You can also buy all the equipment you need from their Proshop.
If your not interested in becoming a member, you are still free to walk the area. The acidic grassland is perfect for plants such as heather, which is managed in such a way as to not take over the golfing grounds, but spread prolifically around its borders.
My favourite spot to explore, however, is the woodland, which has an abundance of wildlife. Most of the time when I visit places like this, the most I see is a squirrel or a duck, but I was in for a real treat this day. Moments after entering, my eyes caught sight of a dashing figure (in speed and looks). I whipped my head round, and there was a rabbit, concealed behind some broken branches. Barely able even to acknowledge what I'd seen, it was gone again. Was there are rabbit, or was I just imagining it? But further down I received confirmation when not one, but two more rabbits appeared; they weren't around for long, but when I went to investigate I discovered that I had stumbled upon an entire warren, which had built a vast network of tunnels and burrows. A lot of the ground on the golf course is very hilly, and when you walk, you can feel how soft and spongy it is under your feet. This is because you are standing on top of a hollow burrow.
Bee burrowing into the ground.
I walked a few more steps, and heard buzzing; a bee hovered by a tree, settled on the soil, and started burrowing underground. I knew there were some species of bees that built nests underground, but I've never seen them do it before, and I didn't know bumbles were one of them. It wasn't long until several more bees appeared, so they must all have been hard at work.
Anyone know what type of butterfly this is?
Emerging from the woodland, back onto the path, several butterflies flitted past. In my garden, all I ever seem to get is white cabbage butterflies, but on the common, there were all sorts. I am useless at identifying, but my favourite was a beautiful red with purple spots.
As well as wildlife, there is lots of plant life to admire. On the notice board at the entrance, it says to look out for fly agaric, or more commonly known as the magic mushroom. These psychedelic red toadstools may look like cute chairs for fairies, but eat one, and you might just go dancing away with them. I didn't see any magic mushrooms, but I did see some of the more boring, grey variety.
One day it will be a tree.
My most interesting find was a horse chestnut. Not interesting in itself perhaps (although many conker players would disagree), but when I went to pick it up, it was stuck. On closer inspection, I saw that it had sprouted and taken root in the ground.
Whether you're there to play golf, hold a private function, or just enjoy the scenery, Mitcham Golf Club has excellent facilities, and easily accessible by car or public transport.