The First 30 Years

The First 30 Years by Audrey Carter

Imagine, if you will, 30-odd years ago, being asked to join a golf course, situated on a beach front, that would look just like the one you see before you today — for the princely sum of $75.00 — of course the catch is you have to help build it.

This golf course was once 13ha of bushland– nothing more than thick scrub — I know when I first saw where they wanted to build it, I thought: “this is the thickest rough I have ever seen”. The Mulgrave Shire Council had it designated as recreational reserve — they must have thought Ray Howarth mad when he approached them with this plan for a golf course.

But never underestimate the determination of an avid golfer.

On the 14th September 1969 the first informal meeting of 50 golfers from all over our district gathered to ponder “could it be done?”.

I would have to think that the enthusiasm on that day — the determination — the vision to be able to look at nothing and see something wonderful — well that spirit did not waiver in all the time it took to build this course.

Ten days later a committee formed — Brian Ledlie who was to make such a marvelous commitment and contribution to this club — headed the first committee. Eleven golfers and two non-golfers put in $100 each — $1300 in total — our humble financial beginning.

Two weeks later, on the 11th October 1969, the first survey pegs were placed on the course. And in January 1970, the Mulgrave Shire Council granted Ray Howarth a 35-year lease on the proviso that a golf course be developed.

Once the lease was granted it was all go. Plans were made immediately for a bulldozer to push down the timber with carefully selected trees to be left standing. I, and I’m sure many others, at times have thought they could have knocked a couple more over.

So many people helped in those early days that it would be difficult to single out any one person, although I think it fair to say that without Stan Kemnny providing that heavy earthmoving equipment it would have been impossible to proceed at all.

Thew tin shed built very early in the piece – supposedly to house the equipment but quickly it found a dual purpose as a club house. The tin dunny alongside was also built very early on in the piece and with the door opening out onto the course — depending on the gender provided both some entertainment and some embarrassment.

Every Saturday and Sunday there were working bees to help clear the land. Attended in good number by both men and women, they would come back to the shed absolutely filthy for their breakfast, always supplied by Tidge Ledlie and Lynn Grigg and a roster of ladies. It is a vivid memory of the filth of that black sand — not just working on it but when it came time to play golf you were literally covered in it.

But golf’s a funny game… don’t think for a minute you could enter out tin shed club house in dirty golf attire.

The one thing a golf course needs is lots of grass — and I don’t think it was even considered to buy any turf. Instead the men would harvest blue cooch from the roadside areas close to the golf course. Of course in time that area extended a little further afield. The gras was always ‘delviered’ to the course poste-haste for the women to plant it.

Eight months after saying they could do it — they did it — May 30th 1970 the first game of golf – a nine hole 4 ball best ball.

Now the grass wasn’t that well established to allow holes in the green, instead a peg wass planted in the green with a 2 foot piece of string attached. If a ball was within the radius of the string it was deemed a one putt. Quite a good system I’d say.

The unofficial opening of the 18 holes was held on May 29th of this year (2000) exactly 30 years later. Quite a coincidence.

The 22nd November 1970 saw the club’s first Annual General Meeting. The fees were set at Ordinary members $20, Country and Social members $10, and Juniors $5. The men and women were to be equal members, HMB was the very first club in Australia to be so. It was also agreed tyhat architect Barny Lynn should continue with his plans for a new clubhouse.

And on the 8th March 1975, a new licensed club house was officially opened. Except for the extension of the Pro Shop and the new offices, it was as it stands today. The club house and locker room stood at 98squares costing $75,000. Again the low cost coming in at under half the estimated cost was due to voluntary labour.

The late Ned Diamond, whose wife Eileen still plays here, volunteered all the electircal work and there were many more equally valuable contributions such as Ned’s.

So with the help of Brian Ledlie’s great organising abilities and Tidge Ledlie’s tireless dedications, and an army of volunteer labour, and countless contributions by now nameless helpers, Ray realised his dream… all within 5 years.

But I don’t think for a moment that the vision ever dared go as far as we have gone. In an age where golf courses are multi-million dollar developments, this one had it’s beginnings as one that was simply built — built by hard work of it’s members. And the great thing about it was that it was fun. I think we can all be very proud to belong to a golf club with such a heritage and such a future.