Ray Howarth: 1913 – 2009
Half Moon Bay Golf Club would not exist today without this man.It was Ray Howarth that secured the first leases to build the golf course in 1969.
Born in Hamilton, Victoria in 1913, Ray Howarth first took up golf when he was 14 years old and within a year had a handicap of 14. By age 28 he had a Scratch handicap which he retained for 38 years. He moved to Queensland whenhe was 18 and played golf until 2007 at the age of 94.
His many achievements included:
- North Queensland Open Amateur Champion 12 times
- Far North Queensland Amateur champion 10 times
- Queensland Representative 12 times
- Captain Queensland team Royal Melbourne 1951
- Open Central Queensland Champion 1952
- President FNQGA 1953
- Finalist in two Australian Opens
- British Amateur top 16, Muirfield 1954
- World Senior Champion at Broadmoor Golf Club Colorado Springs USA 1972.
Ray bought 21 acres of land in Yorkeys Knob in 1958 and started developing the Knob. Concerned with the local beach erosion he obtained some government funds for the building of the groyne and used ballast and sand from his development.
An area of land adjacent to the Knob had been dedicated as a recreational reserve by the council and Ray Howarth, together with Merv Watson, approached the council about leasing the land to develop a nine hole golf course. Eventually their tender was successful and in October 1969 the first survey pegs were placed on the course, the course mapped out and two months later the land had been cleared. Ray Howarth supervised the bulldozing and selected which tress had to remain on the course. He chose those in strategic positions which today provide the course with its’ adventurous personality.
Using mostly volunteer labour the ground was leveled, grass was planted, the water dams dug, the machinery shed built and in June 1970 golf was already being played on a somewhat ‘rough’ course as seen in the pictures below. At first there were no holes in the greens, just a peg inserted to mark the spot. Two feet of string was attached to the peg and if a player’s ball was within the radius of the string, that represented one putt! Volunteers continued working every weekend with Sunday afternoons off to play golf.
The machinery shed accommodated the tractor then gradually took on the role of temporary clubhouse until the opening of the new clubhouse in March 1975.
Ray did not need to play golf for money – he was a successful businessman and owned his own car dealership for twenty years. Having his own business allowed Ray to leave plenty of time for golf. Ray continued to play golf even when in the retirement village and he regularly visited his beloved Half Moon Bay Club. Ray Howarth passed away in October 2009.