The Club was built and initially run by the developers Hay and Croft with Len Hay becoming the first Club Captain. The course was designed and laid out by F. G. Hawtree Associates and in 1972 the club was opened with two courses - The Kings Course (SSS 72) and the 9 hole par-3 Queens Course. The Queens Course was located where currently the practise area is situated. It extended east to the area occupied by todays 15th hole on the Kings course. The profile of most of the holes from the old Queens Course can still be visualised when looking back from the 15th tee.
The club was given it's name based on local history which records that the Vikings used the rivers Blackwater, Crouch and Roach to gain inland access, resulting in the region becoming identified by those early visitors as Three Rivers.
The Viking connection was inspirational for the original clubhouse design and décor, which reflected the Scandinavian connection. The original open timber structures still support the roof above the upstairs function suites, since covered as modernisation has progressed.
Initially the club had a modern country club feel with outdoor swimming pool, sauna, billiards room and function suites as well as a squash club with eight courts and separate membership. The combined facilities were offered as a modern alternative to the traditional British golf club, whilst aiming to maintain serious golfing credentials.
Sir Michael Bonallack, 5 times British Amateur Champion - later to become Secretary to the R & A was a founder member. With his wife Angela, an England international and their golfing family they were active members through the seventies and early eighties.
The original members bar was upstairs, where the Rivers Suite is now located. It included the veranda with its extensive views of the golf course.
The entrance to the Club was by way of what is now the main reception, not the current walkway through the building. Downstairs to main hall was a spike bar, the Pro-shop, entrances to men's and ladies changing rooms and a hair/beauty salon. Some may remember after finishing a round, being greeted by the Steward, who would provide refreshment from the bar, a hot towel for the shower and clean golf shoes before you departed. However, financial viability brought about the need to broaden the clubs appeal, making way for change - sadly the steward had to go!
The Club was taken over by Brent Walker in the mid 70's. During this period the Brent Walker Pro-Am Tournaments at Three Rivers were once advertised as the richest individual one-day pro-ams in Britain. At the time they attracted many of the established professionals from the European Tour including Ryder Cup player Lionel Platts. Lionel was the clubs professional during the Brent Walker era. Some of the young talent of the day who competed included - Nick Price, Sam Torrence, Mark James, Ken Brown and Sir Nick Faldo. Howard Clark won the TPD (Tournament Players Division) Under 25s title when it was held at Three Rivers in 1976.
Sadly, towards the end of the 1980's condition of course and the clubhouse facilities were showing signs of neglect and further investment were needed.
The demise of Brent Walker towards the end of the 1980’s brought about a serious attempt by the members to purchase the Club in 1990. Despite this being well organized and supported by a members funding commitment the attempt was unsuccessful. A year later the Club was sold to Ian Knipe.
The new owners then set about making a number of ambitious changes both within the clubhouse and to the course. Within the clubhouse the squash courts were removed by the building of a second floor to house a new member’s bar (this since forms part of the fitness studio we see today on the second floor). On the ground floor they introduced an enlarged pro-shop which at the time was reputed to be one of the largest on course Pro-shops in the UK (this has since been turned into the main bar area we see today). The next time you are in the main bar area take a look at the layout, the profile of the squash courts is evident in the ceiling structure, as is the glass frontage to what was the ‘viewing court’, now part of the ground floor Fairways function suite.
Plans were also drawn up to build a driving range (this however was never built). To make way for the driving range the 9 hole Par 3 Queen’s course was closed. The Queen’s course had provided an excellent test of short game skills, providing an ideal facility for those learning the game prior to graduating to the Kings. It also provided the foundation for the Junior Golf Section with their own programme of competitions, tuition and understanding of the game. This was instrumental in their earlier success in winning the coveted Essex Youth Shield in 1982.
During this period land was purchased and approvals obtained for the addition of a new Queens course. Work on the new course, a full 18 hole course began and once again a real good feeling for the future ensued. In 1997 the club celebrated its 25 year Silver Jubilee. This culminated in a grand ball held in the main function room in July 1997.
However by 1998 the Club once again had new owners. Clubhuas already owned and operated a number of other golf clubs and Three Rivers joined their portfolio. This gave our members reciprocal rights to play on other Clubhuas courses.
The new owners quickly set about introducing a number of changes: they changed the layout of the Kings course and re-ordered the sequence of play in readiness for the development of the new Queens course. A new hole was built for the Kings course (now played as the 15th.) to replace the original 6th which was earmarked as part of the new Queens course. With these changes the current layout of the Kings course was established.
To further mark the Club’s Silver Jubilee the proposed Queens Course was renamed the Jubilee course. The original 6th hole from the Kings course became the 17th hole on the Jubilee.
Mr. Peachey purchased the Club in 2003. Under his stewardship the much needed upgrading of both courses and the clubhouse facilities has been undertaken and is ongoing. The recent drainage improvements on the Kings course have significantly improved playing conditions while the Jubilee Course with its separate membership and well organized programme of competitions continues to be a popular attraction.
Three Rivers members of the Kings course have access to both on the Jubilee course and by reciprocal arrangements at Stock Brook Manor Mr. Peachey’s other golf club. Stock Brook Manor is located approximately 30 minutes’ drive away at Billericay close to the village of Stock.
The Clubs recent success includes becoming the inaugural winners of the newest EGU competition, the John Day Trophy.
In 2022 the Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary. With management’s commitment, the golf members committee’s help and membership support, the Club is well placed to continue as a modern, quality Golf and Country Club.
Written by Bruce Little