History of Golf in South Australia
Representatives of NAGC and the Adelaide City Council attended a plaque unveiling at Lefevre Tce on 11 August to mark the 130th anniversary of Adelaide Golf Club, one of the foundation clubs of the SA Golf Association.
NAGC's Kevin Naughton was invited to speak at the gathering, organised by Richard Begg, to talk about the history of park lands golf.
The date is important in several contexts;
- It marks the recorded date of Adelaide City Council's approval for Adelaide Golf Club (AGC) to play on a nine hole course bounded by Lefevre Tce, Robe Tce and Kingston Terrace, now known as Lefevre Park and Nantu Wama, Park 6.
- ACC's Archives Register of Cricket and Other Clubs notes that the AGC was one of "two clubs playing in the north park lands".
As the plaque notes, AGC merged with Glenelg Golf Club in 1896, but AGC remained at Lefevre Tce to use it as a practice course. In 1905 AGC left Glenelg and moved to their current site at Seaton, later becoming Royal Adelaide (RAGC) in 1923.
Glenelg later dissolved (it was owned by Harris Scarfe Pty Ltd) and another Glenelg Golf Club was formed some years later and based at a site further south west.
NAGC's history book "Eighty Golfing Years" written by Clarrie Bell in 1985, outlines how NAGC evolved into today's incorporated entity.
In his research, Clarrie discovered that Sydney author Muir MacLaren's 1957 Australian Golfer's Handbook lists the original clubs thus: "They established such clubs as Royal Sydney (1893), Royal Melbourne (1891), Geelong Golf Club (1892), North Adelaide Golf Club (1890), Adelaide Golf Club (1892), North Qld Golf Club (1893) and the Newlands Golf Club, Hobart (1896).
We're not sure what MacLaren's date was based on so we have always used the ACC archive register date of 1892 as the beginning of our association with the land known then as Montefiore Park, bounded by Strangways Tce and Montefiore Hill Rd.
RAGC note in their official history that their unofficial origins go back to 1869 when an Adelaide Golf Club, formed by then-Governor Sir James Fergusson played as a social group on land adjacent o the old Victoria Park racecourse.
They note, however, that the 1869 group disbanded when Fergusson left South Australia in 1873.
Royal Adelaide Golf Club has minutes and records dating from a meeting at the Largs Pier Hotel in 1892, so the Lefevre Tce site is verified as their formal beginings.
There are two other key dates, that whilst not relevant to origins and beginnings, they are relevant to how the game evolved from a restricted social gathering to a sanctioned competitive sport.
Firstly, on 20 August 1904 the SA Golf Association was formed with the foundation clubs being North Adelaide, Adelaide and Glenelg. As that iteration of Glenelg later dissolved, the two remaining foundation clubs are North Adelaide and Adelaide.
Having become a foundation mmember, North Adelaide was required to incorporate, which it did in 1905 and in 1906 was admitted to the national body, the Australian Golf Union.
Secondly, on 3 May 1906, NAGC, AGC and Glenelg co-funded the services of a golf professional (or golf tutor as he was described). The game was now becoming organised, competitive and nationally sanctioned.
Finally, it's worth noting that part of the AGC's activities on Lefevre Park included a Ladies Golf Club which started playing the course in 1893, with almost as many members as the then-men's club. Many of those players moved to NAGC when the AGC moved to Glenelg.
NAGC held a Centenary Dinner in 2005 to mark their 100 years as an incorporated entity, and in the absence of an exact date or year for our creation as a club, we have always used the 1905 marker, making us officially the oldest public course in Australia (Sydneys Moore Park has claimed to be the oldest, but its course was closed to the public until Sydney City Council built a Municipal Golf Links in 1913).
In the next 12 months, you'll hear more about our history as we get ready to celebrate another key date, that being 10 August 2023, 100 years since the deal between NAGC and the ACC for Council to manage the course (being on park lands) as a public facility with NAGC as the resident club. On that day in 1923, the Lord Mayor, Lewis Cohen, hosted a 20 guineas professional tournament, featuring pro golfers in town for the 1923 Australian Open. R. Stewart from Kooyonga (who had co-designed the new course) won the event shooting a 74 and 67 (141) to beat Royal Sydney's Carnegie Clark and Victoria's R. Banks, W. Iles and W. Spicer by 10 shots, all on 151.
Photo 1: The plaque unveiled in the parklands
Photo 2: Kevin Naughton, Marlene Boundy & Adam Bryant
Photo 3: Kevin Naughton (Speaker)
Phot 4: Richard Begg (Initiator & Speaker)
Phot 5: The crowd at the event
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