Date: August 24, 2016
Author: Tony Durkin

Queensland Open returns home

Back in May of 1924, at a special meeting of the Queensland Golf Association, the decision was made to introduce an Open Championship in the state for the very first time.

Named the Open and Amateur Championship Meeting of Queensland, the inaugural event was held at The Brisbane Golf Club and permitted both amateurs and professionals to play in the same event, with 72 holes of stroke play over two days – 36 holes each day.

Now, 92 years on, the event is known as the Isuzu Queensland Open and it will return to its original home when The Brisbane Golf Club hosts the tournament for the 19th time, from October 20 to 23. The event was last played at BGC in 1991 and Stuart Appleby, playing as an amateur, won when he shot a final round of six under par 66.

Brisbane Golf Club president John Kelly said his club was proud and honoured to be staging the Queensland Open again, particularly in its 120th anniversary year.

“It seems fitting that the state’s first open golf championship is returning to its spiritual home in such a significant year for our club,” he said.

“We have hosted the tournament more than any other club, but 25 years since the last event here has been too long. However we believe the best golfers in Australia will be both impressed and challenged by our redesigned and enhanced course, and our Champion greens.”

Mr Kelly emphasised that while the members of BGC would be making a major sacrifice by handing over their course to the tournament, they have openly embraced the event.

“We asked our members to be volunteers for the Open, and were flooded with inquiries. Within 24 hours our volunteer roster was full,” he said.

“And the positive publicity for the club that has evolved from news of us hosting the tournament has attracted such interest from prospective members that many of our membership categories are now fully subscribed.”

One major difference between the inaugural Queensland Open and this year’s event is that the professionals now pay an entry fee of $120.

But back in 1925, to ensure professionals from New South Wales and Queensland attended, it was the amateur golfers who paid to play. The entry fee then was 10 shillings, which contributed to the prizemoney, or purse as it was then referred.

The first winner was, however, an amateur – Sydneysider Harry Sinclair. He won again in 1931, but by then had turned professional and, according to the publication Queensland Open 90 Years Old, was based in Warwick.

The Brisbane Golf Club hosted the first three Queensland Opens – 1925-26-27 – before Royal Queensland took a turn in 1928. The two clubs then hosted the event on rotation until the breakout of World War Two, and the tournament was subsequently suspended between 1941 and 1945.

In 1946 it returned to The Brisbane Golf Club, was suspended again in 1947, but back to BGC in 1948 and 1959, with Royal Queensland hosting the tournament in 1949.

However the rotation system involving BGC and RQ, which had been in existence since 1928, ended in 1960 and the event has since been hosted by numerous clubs in south-east Queensland and even moved to northern NSW in the 1980s, staged at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club for three successive years.

Since 1950 The Brisbane Golf Club has hosted the Queensland Open five more times, the last 25 years ago.