Organised golf has been played on Cleeve Hill since 1891 when the elite Cheltenham Golf Club was formed. The first course was set out on the Common, with wonderful views from the highest point and overlooking Prestbury Park, home today to the world-famous National Hunt Gold Cup. With its natural terrain, the Common provided golf more reminiscent of a links course than the inland setting of Cheltenham. Since then there have been several successive courses, the latest one being the municipal Cleeve Hill Golf Course, home of the Cleeve Cloud Golf Club.
The Cheltenham Town Golf Club (as distinct from the Cheltenham Golf Club) was officially founded in 1902 and two years later changed its name to Cotswold Hills Golf Club. The two clubs, Cheltenham and Cotswold Hills, shared the same course on Cleeve for over thirty years. In addition, an Artisans’ club was formed in 1933 and its members, too, played on the Cleeve Hill course. The Cheltenham Golf Club closed in 1935 and many of its members joined Cotswold Hills.
Although Cotswold Hills stayed on Cleeve Hill for around 75 years, it was never really comfortable with its site on the Common. Continual problems with both the sheep and the public, together with regular conflict with the Board of Conservators over the amount of rent paid to play golf on the Common, eventually convinced the Club that it was time to take control over its own affairs.
In the early 1970s a local farmer offered to sell the Club some of his farmland at Ullenwood, on the southern edge of Cheltenham. It had the potential for the creation of an 18-hole golf course and, with its limestone base, it would drain naturally and be playable for twelve months of the year. Following an extraordinarily brave decision by its members, and with the support of an enthusiastic army of volunteers, a new golf course was created on 157 acres of land, and a clubhouse built. The course, designed by Morris Little, a Club member and a scratch golfer, was opened in May 1976 and has developed into one of the most respected in the county.
Cotswold Hills has hosted many prestigious events, including the English Ladies’ Amateur Championship and the England Golf County Boys’ Finals. It remains a members’ club, and is dedicated to its original aim of providing “Golf and Good Fellowship”.