The club was founded in 1884, making it one of the oldest golf clubs in East Anglia. Originally the Southwold Golf and Quoit Club, the members appear to have settled for golf only at a very early stage. With the agreement of Southwold Corporation and the trustees, a nine hole course was laid out on part of the land left in trust forever to the people of Southwold by landowner William Godyll in 1509. In 1901, following advice from James Braid, Harry Vardon and Tom Dunn amongst others, the course was extended to 18 holes , by building a bridge over a railway cutting to access the heathland beyond. Early photographs in the clubhouse record James Braid playing at Southwold in 1898. The full 18 hole layout was first played in 1901. The current clubhouse incorporates elements of the original 1894 building, though it has been expanded several times since.
The course closed for a time during the First World War, and the club suffered serious financial difficulties in the 1930’s. However the greatest problem the club has faced in its history was the East Coast floods of January 1953. The lower lying holes on Woodsend and Buss Creek marshes were flooded, the worst hit areas being under ten feet of water. Whilst it was hoped that the course might be saved, years of discussion and negotiation failed to find a solution, and the course returned to today’s nine hole layout. The wooden honours boards in the clubhouse record 120 years of competition winners. One name appears 42 times – that of Stanley Quantrill. He won his first trophy at Southwold in 1948, and his last in 1983. He also managed to shoot his age – recording a round of 70 at the age of 70. Another name synonymous with Southwold Golf Club is Brian Allen. Brian, who passed away in April 2010, was PGA Professional and Head greenkeeper for more than 36 years and has left the club a great legacy.