Willesley Park Golf Club has been on its’ present site since 1920 when the land was leased from Major Ashworth, who had previously bought the Willesley Estate including Willesley Hall. The golf course, smaller than it is now, was designed and laid out by James Braid one of the famous triumvirate of Braid, Taylor and Vardon. The course was opened for play in April 1921 and expanded to nearly its’ current size in 1926. It is interesting to note that the houses seen today on Tamworth Road were not then in existence and the fifth tee, a short 88 yard hole was to the right of the current fourth tee.
Around 1930, the Golf Club had the opportunity to buy Willesley Hall, and what a fine clubhouse it would have made, but the cost proved to be too much. In addition, its’ location was considered to be too far out of town at a time when most members did not have cars. After the Second World War, during which much of the course was given over to agriculture, the course was re-opened for play. The members were able to buy the land from the Ashworth Estate. Club membership increased over the next few years and a much needed new clubhouse was built in 1957/58.
In 1961 a magnificent silver fox was donated to the Leicestershire and Rutland County Golf Union by Mr. Alf Chapman for the inauguration of an open 36 hole competition specifically to attract the top amateurs in the midlands. This tournament is played every year at Willesley Park and has some notable winners, including Mark James, Peter McEvoy, Paul Baxter, Andy Sullivan and Gary Wolstenholme. In 2003, the trophy was won for the first time by a Willesley member, Paul Dixon.
When the golf course was purchased from the Willesley Estate, there stood, on the 9th fairway, a statue of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. The statue had gradually deteriorated over the years and in 1981 was found to have been destroyed and only the plinth remained until 2000 when, after a concerted fund raising effort during the millennium year, a new statue was unveiled in its’ place by Barbara Abney-Hastings, the Countess of Loudoun.
Willesley Park Golf Club is fine mature golf course and has some splendid views over the surrounding countryside. The first hole is a superb driving hole. The first part of the hole is played along an avenue of historic lime trees which once flanked the old coach road from the old Norman castle in the town to the now demolished Willesley Hall. Most of the holes require accuracy off the tee and a programme of course improvement and bunker renovation and re-siting has put more of a premium on accuracy with approach shots too. Added to this are some subtle borrows on the greens and the whole is one of the finest golf courses in the county.