History of the Goulburn Golf Club

Reproduced from the Goulburn Golf Club 1998 Centenary Project Booklet

The History of Goulburn NSW, By Ransome T Wyatt (1941)

The first stirring in the matter of a golf course for Goulburn were in 1880. Then it was proposed to make links in Clinton Street (Clinton Street west of the Australian Arms was all vacant paddocks). The municipal Council received a letter of protest from J.T. Gannon (Solicitor) on behalf of F. Horn, Mrs Smith and WA. Evans. One of the earliest courses was at “Burrungurroolong” where E.W Kelso and C.M. Shaw made “an apology for a golf course” in the nineties. A “Goulburn Golf Club” was formed in 1898. The opening day was the 18/8/1898. There were eighty (80) members. The “New” links were described as starting “at the back of Mr Helm’s residence, Auburn Street, South, and go over towards South Hill, the residence of Mr W Chisholm. They take a turn back towards Mr Guymer’s cottage, then into the corporation paddock and back to the starting point past Dr McKillop’s cottage, the distance being three miles. There are eighteen (18) holes. C.M. Shaw was its secretary.

There is some little discrepancy between local accounts of the foundation of the Goulburn Golf Club. One account has it that it was brought into being by A.H.C.L. and R.R.Payten, who had previously played golf on their own property. The other states that a meeting was held on the 22/6/1898 at the Bank of Australasia attended by A.B. Chisholm, J.H. Turner, A.E. Sendall, EM. Ibbs, R.E. Conolly and C.M. Shaw. A third account states that the club was formed in 1891/92. Oral arrangements were made with tenants of paddocks extending towards South Hill, and Bethune, a Sydney golfer, came here and laid out a course. This course was only used for a few months.

The club then moved to the present links, but only for two years. It then went out towards Kenmore. Before than, however, the first golf match was played on what are now the present links on the 22/7/1899 against a Sydney team arranged by R.A. Warden. One of the visi­tors was Hugh MacNeil, a champion of Australia. The first club house was a deserted hut standing about when the old first green was. About 1900 the golf club moved out towards Kenmore using Confoy’s hotel as the club house. After three years it returned to the Eastgrove links where it has been ever since. The second golf house was a cottage at the south end of the links adjoining Eastgrove itself. At this time the golf course was leased from the University of Sydney. Later through the efforts of C.M. Shaw, R.E. Conolly, the Payten Brothers, Alf Riley and others, the present golf company was formed and the ground acquired. At first a nine (9) hole course with sand greens; about 1925 the club put in an eighteen (18) hold course and grass greens. The present golf house has every convenience for members, a caretaker’s residence and a ball room. It was opened on the 25/5/1912. L. Kelly, Open Golf Champion, was given a civic reception when he visited Goulburn in 1933.

Bruce Devlin won the Club title in 1956, 57, 58 and 60, the foursomes with Perce Yrie in 1953, and the mixed with Anne Bourchier in 1958. He won NSW Country Championships (in 1955 and 1957), NSW Country Foursomes in 1954 (with John Powell) and 1957 (Noel Wade, Kandos).

An apprentice plumber with his father, Artie, who lost an arm in a car accident when Bruce was a junior, the Goulburn star competed as an amateur in the 1958 National Open Championship at Kooyonga and finished fifth behind Gary Player, Kel Nagle, Frank Phillips and Eric Cremin. He finished 11th in the following year’s open, won by his closest professional friend, Kel Nagle.

Devlin went on to win the National Amateur Championship in 1959, at Royal Sydney. He then was a member of the Commonwealth Club. He won the NSW Amateur title in 1958 at St Michael’s from Harry Berwick. He won the NSW Foursomes Championship in 1957 with K.F. Pickering (New Brighton) and was NSW Junior Champion in 1957, after being beaten in a play-off by Bruce Crampton in 1953. His 1957 rounds with 69, 72. He also won the NSW Junior Intermediate titles in 1954 and 1955.

Bruce was selected in the Australian Team to contest the Inaugural Eistenhower Cup series at St Andrews with Bob Stevens, Doug Bachli and Peter Toogood in 1958. The team tied with the American team on a combined score of 918. In the play-off Bruce shot 72, Stevens and Toogood 75, Bachli 78, to win by two strokes.

In 1959 Bruce won the Australian Amateur Championship defeating Jack Coogan 2 up in the final at Royal Sydney, then in 1960 won Australian Open Championship as an amateur at Lake Karrinyup, Perth.

  • When the Mulwaree and Wollondilly Rivers flooded simultaneously in 1974, water flowed back from the junction of the rivers near the jail, reaching a height of 50 centimetres up the legs of the club billiard tables on the top floor. The then secretary-manager, Keith Sharpe, sighting a tiger snake attempted to swim in through a top floor window, killed it with one blow. He used a three iron to achieve the feat.
  • TN. (Tom) Powell, father of former club champion, John, who himself features on our championship boards, became greenkeeper in the 1950s, having been the Department of Agriculture’s district fruit inspector for years. He planted many trees, as did ex Secretary Manager, Keith Sharpe, including willows alongside the 18th tee, one of which now houses one of the club possums.
  • The current practice fairway, running alongside Blackshaw Road, was used through to the 1950s by Thos Williams Pty Ltd, produce merchants, as a rest paddock for their horses. During the war years, when petrol rationing was in vogue, these horses were used by members and vol­unteers at weekends to pull the fairway mowers. Members kept the club operating during these hard years with their voluntary labour.
  • The Golf Club for years sponsored a strong tennis club, which used two courts situated in the area between the existing 9th green and the club house.
  • Before additions were made to the club house, the main entrance to the upstairs portion was via a wooden stairway on the northern side of the building. One existing photo shows 50 members of the local RSL grouped on and around the stairs after one of their annual Crossland Cup golf days in the 1930s.
  • People have not always gone by vehicle or foot to the club house. On a number of occasions, especially during the big floods, officials and staff used a rowing boat to get to the club house to move equipment and to check the property. Secretary Manager, Keith Sharpe and the then president John Lowe used the latter’s boat during floods in the 70s.
  • And there are two other forms of commemoration on the course. One plaque at the 4th tee commemorates Ray (“Curley”) Harvey, one of Goulburn’s finest sportsmen, who holes in one from the tee (then the 6th) in 1964. The other is for Jack (“Cracker”) Collins, a brother of former secretary manager, Ken, at the 8th tee. Both plaques have well tended gardens around them.
  • Locals and visitors alike either love or hate Goulburn Golf Club’s Island Hole (the 8th). The hole, with the Mulwaree River forming channels on two sides, is reached from the course proper by a concrete bridge.
  • Golf and tennis club members were served afternoon teas upstairs and, in fine weather, they would take their tables and seats to an outside verandah overlooking the existing 10th fairway.
  • In the 1950s when former chemist, Charles Malone, was the first part-time manager, the club’s first licence was obtained and drinks were served in the downstairs section, now the professional’s shop.
  • In the 20s and 30s, youngsters would line up near the putting greens seeking out players requiring caddies. Some local residents who caddied for as low as the equivalent of 20 cents a round, still tell stories of those days. The Cowling brothers and John Powell were among those who served their time as caddies. “Plus fours” were the order of the day for members.
  • In the years between the two world wars, the area between Rocky Hill and the existing 5th and 6th fairways was used as a brickworks by the Stubbings family, whose home was on the corner across May Street from the 5th tee. Horses working a turntable pulled trollies of clay from the pits to near the 5th tee, where the kilns were situated.
  • The l lth green (formerly the 2nd)) at one time had a water pond at the front of the green. The members’ tee then was near the present women’s tee. The 5th hole (formerly the 7th) was a par 4, having two very large gum trees 50/60m in front of the green.
  • The distance of the hole is 136 metres, taking the ball over the river. There is an out-of-bounds fence behind the green. The late Jack Collins, well known Goulburn bar­ber, who was a single figure player for many years, was one golfer who could always tell a good story about “The Island”, which in the former layout was the 10th. He was playing in a club championship and was leading – till he reached the water hole. He took 14 and, in desperation, took a kick and gave his bag a push. It ended up in the river. Jack didn’t realise for a moment, seemingly being quite prepared to leave his sticks “in the drink”, then it struck him. His car keys were in the zipper pocket – so he had to calm down and make the rescue. Needless to say, he didn’t win that title, although his name appears a number of times on the record boards.
  • There were 2 first class Tennis Courts adjoining the Club House on the northern side which were very popular with members. After a few hard sets it was the main event was to go to the Club House and enjoy afternoon tea on the balcony overlooking the Golf Course. Progress took over with the building of the Dining Room onto the Club House and room for Car Parking.

It seems that golf was played in the Goulburn district on a number of grazing properties in the 1880s-on such property was “Strathallan” (now occupied by the NSW Police Academy), owned by H.c.L. and R.R. Payten. Three attempts were made to introduce golf to Goulburn residents in the 1890s, but it was not until 18 August 1898 that the Goulburn Golf Club opened its course. On the first occasion, in the early 1890s, a course was proposed on land south of the main street, but Frederick Horn (a noted builder and ex-Mayor) engaged the solicitor J.T. Gannon in a successful protest to the Goulburn. Around 1896 C.M. Shaw, manager of the Bank of Australasia, with the assistance of E.W Kelso, principal of King’s college, laid out what was described as an “apology for a golf course” six miles south of Goulburn on the Gibson property “Burrungurroolong”.

In 1898 an 18 hole course, known as South Hill was laid out “starting at the back of Mr Helm’s residence in Auburn Street South and going back to South Hill, the residence of W Chisholm, taking a turn back to Mr Guymer’s cottage and back to the starting point past Dr McKillop’s cottage, the distance being three miles”.

At the outside there were eighty members of the South Hill course, and the elected office bearers were: President, R.E. Connolly; Secretary, C.M. Shaw; Committee, A.B. Chisholm, J.S. Turner, A. Sendall and EM. Ibbs. It is generally recognised that due to the efforts and enthusiasm of C.M. Shaw he is the “Father” of Goulburn Golf Club.

In 1899 the first interclub match was played in Goulburn against a team from Royal Sydney, about which the Sydney Mail had this to say: The Goulburn caddies, like the genus wherever golf is now, are amusing. The caddie of one Sydney man had to be repeatedly admonished for jeering at the other side, and the caddies usually had with them an admiring string of brothers and sisters, each pleading for the hon­our of carrying a club. The consequence was that just when a particular club was required the particular sec­tion of the parry honoured with its care would be dis­covered exhibiting the treasure to awe-struck small boys on some remote part of the ground – then there was the outspokenly commendatory caddie, the caddie cynical, the caddie derisive and various other varieties.

In the Royal Sydney team were Leonard Dobbin and R.A. Warden-the latter was described by Dobbin as `a person golf owes much to in the State, through his efforts to introduce the game into regions of the South and West where golf was previously unknown’. These gentlemen stayed on at Goulburn for a couple of days and, together with the committee, completely recast the course by eliminating one hole together and making two new ones.

In 1900, following a disastrous flood, the Club moved to a site near the northern suburb of Kenmore. It used Confoys Hotel as a clubhouse, and operated there for approximately three years, the members justly claim­ing to have the first abundant supply of amber liquid since the formation of the Club.

Then in 1903 the Club moved to its present location, renting the property from Sydney University, which had acquired the eighty acres as a result of a bequest by Captain William H. Hovell (of Hume and Hovell fame). Captain Hovell had been given the land as a grant from the colonial Governor, and he left it in trust until such time as a university was built in Goulburn; his good intentions tied up the land for thirty-five years after his death in 1875.

The present clubhouse was occupied in 1912 and, to gain access across the Mulwaree River, a swinging sus­pension bridge was built-it withstood many major floods until eventually replaced by a bridge for vehicular traffic. About this time, 1910, J. Merrilee was employed as professional for a term not exceeding four weeks for one pound per week, his duties being to supervise course improvements and to instruct members on the finer points of the game. It was not until 1925 that the Club engaged a full-time professional, W McKenzie, who was responsible for the design of the new 18 hole grass­greens course that came into play the same year (he was the same W McKenzie who served as professional at The Australian from 1930 to 1964).

Two Goulburn members won the Australian Open Championship whilst they were members of the Club: Lou Kelly in 1933 and Bruce Devlin in 1960. Devlin was also a member of the successful Australian Eisenhower Cup Team for the 1958 event played at St Andrews, and today he lives in the USA where he has continued his golfing career and interests. In recent times another Goulburn golfer, Brett Ogle, won the 1985 New South Wales Amateur Championship and has appeared successfully in national and international events since turn­ing professional. Judy Perkins (nee Mancell) and Leonie Oxley are two outstanding golfers who have come from the ranks of the Goulburn associates.

1 The Australian 1882
2 Royal Sydney 1893
3 Cootamundra 1895 or
4 Bathurst 1895
5 Wagga Wagga 1895
6 Marrickville 1897
7 Strathfield 1897
8 Wollongong 1897
9 Goulburn – 4th Country Course 1898
10 Killara 1898
11 Richmond 1899
12 Armidale 1899
13 Concord 1899
14 Maitland 1899
15 Albury 1899
17 Hunter’s Hill 1900
18 Deniliquin 1900
19 Tamworth 1900
29 Urana 1900
21 Bowral 1901
22 Grafton 1901
23 Orange 1901
24 Waratah 1901
25 Glen Innes 1901

Although records were not kept until 1904, Goulburn had formed a Ladies’ Club in 1899. Goulburn Associates is thus one of the oldest golfing bodies in the State, and joined the New South Wa Ladies’ Golf Union in 1906. In 1978 the club was the venue for a three-day Golden Jubilee Tournament to celebrate the formation of the Central Southern Golf Association in 1929.

A foundation club, the Goulburn Golf Club is one of the oldest country clubs in New South Wales.It was formed about 1899. Apparently, although the Associates ‘existed’ the first records kept were in 1904­eventually joining the NSW Ladies Golf Union in 1906.

The first Championship was played in 1904, the winner being Mrs Thompson. Over the early days, there were several players who won the Championship many times, the most outstanding being Mrs Frances Adams, with a record of eleven titles. As well as being a keep golfer, Frances Adams was a dedicated committee member.

Mrs Mary Hoddle who won the championship twice gave valuable service as honorary secretary for many years, in building the Club.

In 1925 the Associates donated money to complete the grass greens. The Associates President at that time was Mrs Nellie Knowlman, who was very interested in beautifying the course. She personally planted the coloured hawthorns at the back of the 18th Green, and lined the fairway of the 7th with prunus. When in flower in spring, the sight delights players and artists alike.

Among the many cups and trophies donated by members and associates, the most coveted is the Nellie Knowlman Rose Bowl, donated by Mr J.E. Knowlman as a memorial to his wife.

The South Coast and Southern Tablelands Championship cup was donated by Mr L.T. Watson of “Wollogorang” and is played for annually at the Goulburn Associates’ Open bay, and draws top players from many clubs.

The Central Southern Golf Association was formed in 1928 at Canberra. Mrs S.N. Bruce (later Viscountess), wife of the then Prime Minister, donated the Bruce Cup for team members playing off scratch match play between Association Clubs. The first match was played at Goulburn on 29th May, 1929.

In 1931 Mrs Dorothy Baxter of Goulburn donated the Bronze Shield for Association teams playing off handi­cap.

The first C.S.G.A. tournament was played at Goulburn in 1929 and the CS.G.A. celebrated its 50th birthday in October 1978 with a Golden Jubilee Tournament played over three days at Goulburn, draw­ing an entry of 300 players.

Goulburn Golf Club’s Associates’ bronze shield team who represented the central zone this season. They won the final from Bowral Country Club at Yass recently, giving Goulburn its first win since 1935. Members of the team from left: Mesdames A. Granger, J. Chalker, H. Hickman, M. Cooper (Captain), M. Hahn and B. Ferguson (August 1973).

Anne Bourchier who’s name appears on several Honour Boards, won 10 single Club Championships also 4 mixed foursomes championships and 7 foursomes championships. Jess Beattie also named on the Honour Board, won 5 single cham­pionships, foursomes championships. Jess also won many Crookwell Club Championships.

Shirley Weir, also named on the Honour Boards, won 8 single club championships, 10 mixed foursomes and 3 foursomes championships.

Mrs C Adams, won 3 single club championships during World War One and later won 8 championships.

Una Mitchell, won 9 single club championships Edna Emery won 5 single club championships.

“A” GRADE: Goulburn Golf Club was a foundation member of the `A’ Grade Pennants of Illawarra and Southern Tablelands Golf Association Teams coming form Wollongong, Moss Vale, Goulburn, Royal Canberra and Yass. Competition started in 1948. It was the first time ‘A’ Pennants were played outside the Metropolitan area.

After some years Port Kembla, Federal Canberra, Bowral Country Club, Yowani, Tully Park and Nowra Club joined. With all these clubs the `A’ Grade Pennant was divided into two divisions with the winner of each playing a Final.

With the formation of the ACT Monaro Association it was decided to have one division in this Association, member clubs being; Goulburn, Royal Canberra, Federal Canberra, Yass and Yowani.

One Pennant match In 1949 – Goulburn First: P Todkill lost to F Buckley; J Powell won from J Woods; J Collins won from R McKay; W Hurley lost to M Stringer; W Holloway won from C Barnes; D Urquhart won from G Brandon and J Donnelly lost to Mr McKay – Goulburn Won 4 – 3. “B” Division: B Division Pennants first started in the late 1950’s with the following club teams. Tully Park (the only club with grass greens); Crookwell; Queanbeyan; Braidwood; Yass; Gunning. These courses all had sand greens. Goulburn Club entered in the 1960’s and with the above clubs continued the “B” Division. Other clubs to enter over the years have been Duntroon; Cooma: Fairbairn; Belconnen (now Woodhaven Green); Gloucester (now Capital). Over the years competition has always been keenly contested and all who have taken part have thoroughly enjoyed themselves.