A New Beginning

A New Beginning


For twenty years the Nhill Golf Club links had been situated on Crown Land next to the Netherby Road. During that time not only had the Golf Club prospered but also the township itself which had grown in size and so had increased demand on available land for the development of the town. Indeed, the play of the "holes" over Queen Street had become incresingly hazardous with the ever growing flow of traffic.

In 1925 the Golf Club moved location for the third and final time, taking the opportunity to purchase an area of land to the north of the township. It was indeed an exciting time for the Club, as it gave the opportunity to further develop the Club on landof its own, and to establish for the first time, an eighteen hole golf course.

The new course, an are of 105 acres, was purchased from Mr John Wellesley Warner at the price of 7 pounds 10 schillings per acre, a total cost of 790 pounds. The contract of sale stated that the terms were 100 pounds on signing, 295 pounds on 1st March 1925 and 395 pouds on 1st March 1927. Acting for the Club were W.E. Goldsworthy, I.S. Young, R.C. Roe and C.C. Palmer, these gentlemen all later became Life Members of the Club.

When the land was purchased there were no trees on the course except in the area of today's 7th hole and the large gum tree on the right hand side of the 9th hole. The Committee quickly set about developing the new course. The original, small clubhouse was moved from the old links and located next to the Netherby Road in the area adjacent to the now 8th green.

Plans were made for the new 18 hole golf course, with the first hole commencing from the clubhouse with a 246 yard bogey 4 hole running parallel to the road. Today the 9th hole is located in this area. The original 18 hole course was desiged by the members and measured 5802 yards for the gents and 5150 yards for the ladies. the new liks was formally opened on the 4th of July 1925. The honour was given to the President's wife, Mrs R.C. Roe, to drive the first ball, a drive which was greeted with resounding cheers.

At the time the new course was laid out, Mr M.A. Morcom, curator of the Sandringham Golf Club ws invited to report on the bunkering for the layout. He submitted a proposal that included sand pots around the greens, a combination of sand and mounds for bunkers through the green, and areas of cultivated ground to act as wing hazards and carries from the tee. Further comments in his report to the Club said 'that the property is admirably adapted for the purpose of laying down an 18 hole golf course', and 'it would be possible to develop a golf course tht will be a credit to the Club and the district'. he also complimented those responsible for the laying out of the course, as he considered a 'credible arrangment had been affected'.

In the spring of 1925, the Nhill Golf Club hosted the annual Wimmera Open Amateur Meeting with a record number of some 700 entries with almost every town in the Wimmera being represented. the Club's new 18 hole course was warmly praised by both players and visitors. The outstanding feature of the meeting was the fine form displayed by G.C. Bourdon of Nhill, who was successful n winning the Wimmera District Chapionship and the Victoria Golf Association's gold medal with a score of, 79 - 79 - 158.

In the late 1920's, the Committee decided that it should embark on a program to establish trees on the course. Samples of soil were sent by rail to the Department of Agriculture in Melbourne for testing, upon which a recommendation was received that Sugar Gums were the most suitable variety of tree to establish. As there was no water on th course, a site was chosen to construct a dam behind the then 4th hole (todays 15th) to trap water that flowed along the shallow water course through the middle of the property which would then be used to water the newly planted trees.

The contract to build the dam was given to Mr Charles Rodgers who employed two local men to assist him, they were Mr William Ingram and Mr Edward Reichelt. A single furrow plough, fitted with two loong handles was used to break the ground. As Mr Rodgers four horses were not sufficient for the job, Mr Reichelt loaned another four. The single furrow plough was then drawn by eight horses. As it was mid summer the ground was hard and dry and the implement used for the excavation was a wheeled scoop. The dam was constructed in a manner that the point of entry when the dam was full, formed a creek that crossed the then 8th (today's 13th) fairway, and a footbridge had to be constructed to enable players to cross.

The program to establish trees continued throughout the 1930's and 1940's. the majority of trees planted were Sugar Gums with some Athol and Boobialla. Some of the older pines we see today were also established during this time, one beng the massive pine on the right hand side of today's 6th hole. Many trees died and had to be replaced, although the use of a small tank mounted on a trolley greatly assisted with the watering of trees. The tank and trolley was filled form the towns supply at an outlet at Mackay Street, or at times when the pressure was insuffieient, it was filled from the town reservoir situated near the Shire Office, and then towed back to the course to water the trees. Persistence paid off, and by 1954 the sugar gums were well established and lined all the fairways, so much so that they had to be lopped to control their ever increasing size.

Throughout th e1920's and 1930's the Club sontined to maintain the course with the use of grazing, and this caused several problems. With the hundreds of trees, that were being established, each one had to be protected with a guard to prevent the sheep from trimming off the young shoots. Also the sheep would form "tracks" leading to the dam and this presented many problems on the fairways. Golf buggies had yet to be invented at this time and with the large amount of sheep droppings, players had to be careful where they placed their bags. In later years, the development of a commercially produced tripod enabled bags to stand upright. In 1937 cultivation and discing of the fairways was carried out for the first time. Volunteer labour was used to maintain the course until March 1938, when the Club appointed Mr J.E. Love as the first green keeper on a casual basis. Payment was guaranteed at two pounds per week.

At the Club's Annual Meeting in April 1930 there was much discussino regarding the clubhouse facilities. Many omments wer made, that something should be done to improve the clubhouse, that it was facing the wrong direction, that the existing clubhouse was quite satisfactory and did not need renovating. One member even questioned whether the links were worthy of a better clubhouse.

A suggestion was made to relocate it. The present location next to the Netherby road was deemed unsuitable because it was in the way of the 'drive' form the 1st tee. At the time the road was unsealed and in very wet weather it caused problems in getting the cars over the hill to the entrance gate.

Heated debate enued at what to do and of course monty to build a new clubhouse was a major concern. However, the ladies were willing to raise funds towards the construction of a new building. The meeting resolved that the committee be directed to make plans for a new clubhouse. by the foloowing year, with the help of donations and interest free debentures from the members, enough finance had been raised and the new building was erected, at a cost of 144 pounds, in its new locaiton where it still stands today.

In 1932 additions were made to the clubhouse and the main room was lined with fibro plaster for 147 pounds. The ladies committee contributed over 100 pounds towards the new addition. Also in that yer the verandah was built thus completing the new facilitym giving the members 'one of the finest clubhouses in the country', as remaarked by the then President Mr I.S. Young.

In 1936 the Club made application to the Wimmera Golf Association to hold its Annual Tournament during the long weekend in June, that being the King's Birthday. The Club was successful and have managed to retain that weekend for the Annual Tournament to this day.

The acquisition of its own property was no doubt one of the most telling in the Club's history. thanks to its enterprising members, their foresight and financial support, the foundations of the Club that we enjoy today were laid. The ontribution which the early members made to the development of the Nhill Golf Club was indeed signifiant to its future prosperity. Their efforts are not forgotten.