Date: March 25, 2014
Author: Christian Puccini / Golf SA

100 years for Hamley Bridge Golf Club

HAMLEY BRIDGE GOLF CLUB CENTENARY 2014 *Article supplied by Hamley Bridge GC This year the Hamley bridge Golf Club will celebrate the centenary of golf in the town. Golf was first played in Hamley Bridge on land immediately east of the town in early 1914. Not long after commencement a new course was established on land around the river light belonging to a Mr L Dyer. It was a nine hole course and often required players to hit across the river. Players often discovered a ball hit into the river was often an advantage when the current took the ball nearer the next hole. The soil was often unsuitable as it became hard when dry and very sticky when wet. Play was not allowed on a Sunday presumably for religious reasons. A new venue was sought and land at Stockport, 8 kilometers east of Hamley Bridge and owned by Mr T Higgins, was available and considered suitable. Although this site required more travel, golfers from other nearby towns helped to boost membership. Mr D Bell, an early member, was largely responsible for laying out the first nine holes. The course was later extended to 18 holes and included some minor changes to layout, due to drifting sand. Natural mallee timber on the course and fairways made the course attractive and interesting. As the course was sandy this prevented the course becoming waterlogged. The Scrapes on the course required heavy soil to placed under them to prevent the slag drifting. The tin shed clubhouse from the course in Hamley Bridge was moved to the new course and with some addititons was used as a clubhouse until 1960. A more suitable transportable timber frame building was purchased and placed next to the old clubhouse with toilets added. Members were elated with the new luxury clubhouse. The old clubhouse was used as a bar on open days and as a creche for lady members with young children. The old clubhouse was demolished in 1970, when the new clubhouse was extended to include a bar and kitchen. Mr Higgins sold the land to Mr L Koch who rented the land to the golf club, but retained grazing rights, which meant scrapes had to be protected with wire borders. M Koch was not a golfer but co-operted with the club for over 50 years. On the passing of Mr Koch in 1984, the club tried in vain to retain the course, but is was not to be and were given notice to vacate the property by April 30 1986. The situation became desperate for survival of the club, when Mrs Stevens who owned an ajoining paddock offered the club a five year lease, with a right to purchase. So once again the club was on the move. Everthing had to be moved and the old course restored to its natural state. Brian Crafter designed a course and the clubhouse was moved with some difficulty, along with equipement, sheds, flags, scrapes etc. Members put in a magnificent effort and the course was opened on 4th May 1986. Five years after relocating, the lease expired and the committee decided to accept the option to purchase the property for $83,000. This money was partially raised from investments made during the five years prior, and the Club also took out an overdraft for the balance. This money was paid back within five years thanks the tireless fundraising efforts of all members.. The course was used for grazing sheep during the lease, and this changed immediately. Gone were the wire barriers around scrapes and the sheep poo on the scrapes disappeared. Massive tree plantings were undertaken at working bees attended by most members. The Hamley Bridge Primary School also planted 3000 trees during1992 & 1993 with these trees being watered during the following summer by the late Ian Nairn with some help from his sons Richard and John and other club members. These trees never posed a threat to the wayward shots of most members, became much more of a problem as time passed. They now are very much a major impediment, and the persons responsible for the planting are occasionally mentioned in profanities uttered by those players trapped in impossible positions amongst the jungle of trees. Fairways were sprayed to remove soursobs in 1994, but unfortunately the rough was not sprayed and we now have a problem with these areas. The Group open was held at the Club in 1993 and over 110 players attended, raising more much needed funds for the Club. Couch grass was planted during Spring of 1997 and there followed the wettest ever summer and this seed germinated magnificently, and to this day it still covers the course after summer rains. Life Members Mark Gregory, a Member for 73 years, and Andrew Phillips both now deceased, made massive contributions to the changes in the course over the next 20 years. They were mainly responsible for the tee blocks being changed from oiled dirt to grass, and the positional changes of some trees. They also organised the trimming of lower branches on trees and the planting of more couch grass on the fairways. Mowing equipment was purchased during 1993 and from then on you could find Andrew and Mark at the Golf course most days, driving the new mowers, or relaxing on the verandah late in the day with a cold beer in hand working out how to improve the Course and make it harder to play. Seats made by Club Members have been installed on Tee Blocks 1 and 10 to remind everyone of their dedication to the Club. Club Members, past and present are now being asked to help with fundraising efforts to assist with our proposed toilet block construction to replace the outdated facilities currently in use. This is our Centenary year, and we need to raise $30000 to get this project completed and to also erect new entrance gates at the Club. New Members are very welcome at our Club, so if you&aposre toying with the idea of starting golf where could be better than at the Hamley Bridge Club. Our Winter Season Starts on Saturday April 6th with the Mark Gregory Memorial Ambrose, so if you are a past present or future member of the Club, be there at 12noon for a great day of Golf followed by a first class meal in the Clubrooms. The Club will also have a Centenary weekend of Golf in July this year, 4th Ladies Open, 5th Mixed Ambrose and Men&apossOpen 6th. Meals will be served during this weekend. If you&aposre too old to still play Golf and have some affiliation with the Club turn up for a meal and a chat. We are also hosting the Group Open in August as part of our Centenary, and would like to beat our first attendance at this event (110) Membership of the Club is $150 full members, $80 juniors and $100 restricted.