History Of The North Adelaide Golf Club
1904 - 2005
(Click chapter to expand content)
For thousands of years, Australian Aborigines held corroborees
and beat the ground with clubs, uttering blood-curling yells.
Anthropologists called it a form of self-expression.
Today, the world has another name for clubbing the ground and yelling.
- GOLF -
It is doubtful today, whether any country in the world has two 18-hole golf links and a par-3 golf course only a kilometre away from the business heart of a capital city. It's thanks to Colonel Light's original plan of the City which was surrounded on all sides by a large area of vacant land and later dedicated as parklands...' for the use and recreation of the citizens...'.
The three courses themselves are a tribute to the Adelaide City Council of 1921 which took over the original North Adelaide nine-hole course in that year and extended it to 18 holes. The second public course of its kind in Australia, the other started at Moore Park in Sydney.
Prior to this, thousands of years before the Colony of South Australia was established, the sites of The City of Adelaide Golf Links, South and North Courses, and the Par 3 Course next to the Torrens at North Adelaide were favoured hunting grounds and camping spots for The Kaurna people.
At the time of colonisation, early relationships between the Kaurna and the colonists in Adelaide were relatively peaceful. The colonists were aware that the land belonged to the Kaurna and at first went out of their way to provide the Kaurna with food as recompense.
However, it wasn't long before attitudes hardened and complaints of nudity, begging, vagrancy, prostitution and petty theft were used against the Aborigines. The colonists demanded the aborigines be shifted out of city limits. The 'Native Location' was established in April 1837, on Park No.1, the future site of the Golf Links, by Captain Walter Bromley, South Australia's second Interim Protector who moved his tent about a mile down river from the allocated area to "a place chosen by the natives".
This place was known to the Kaurna people as Piltawodli and means possum place, from 'pilta' = possum, and 'wodli' = house or home. This park was thus called because of the abundance of possums that once lived in the numerous red gumtrees.
Bromley built himself a hut and supervised the Kaurna in "the construction of half a dozen 'commodious wigwams' as he called them". A dozen huts to accommodate Kaurna families, a garden, a schoolhouse, storehouse and residence for the interpreter were established by 1938. The two German missionaries, Christian Teichelmann and Clamor Schurmann who arrived with Governor Gawler in October 1838 lived at Piltawodli, as did Matthew Moorhouse, the first full-time Protector.
Piltawodli was abandoned in August 1839 because of a death; custom demanded that they abandon the camp of the deceased for a period. On their return, and by the 1840s, Piltawodli was a fenced-in area extending over 14 acres. It was the site of the first school for Aboriginal children in South Australia.
In 1845, the children were relocated to an English-only 'Native School Establishment' on Kintore Ave.
The soldiers demolished all houses belonging to Aboriginal people at the 'Native Location' in accordance with Governor Grey's "reforms". He ordered that "no longer shall any native remain within the fence". Within a few years most of the trees had been cleared by the Europeans to make way for houses and grazing land and to fire the limeburning and brick kilns along the Torrens.
In May 1870 a small band of red coated players hit the first golf shots in this State on a seven-hole course opposite St Andrews Hospital on South Terrace.
Governor of the day Right Hon., Sir James Fergusson, Bart., led the formation of the first Golf Club in South Australia with Mr David Murray MLC in late 1869 and a gardener who had been a greenkeeper in Scotland worked on the preparation of the course from early April 1870 to have it ready for the opening day on Saturday 15 May 1870.
Sir James Fergusson must go down as the father of golf in South Australia as it was he who arranged for a supply of clubs and balls to be sent to Adelaide and with Mr Murray was the prime mover in the founding of the first golf club.
An advertisement in the SA Advertiser of 16 June 1870 stated that Cunninghams 29-31 Rundle Street received, "a full supply of materials for the playing of the game of golf". Listed in the "materials" were "playing clubs, long spoons, spade mashies, putters, irons, cleeks and balls". These stocks held by Cunninghams were undoubtedly those ordered by Sir James Fergusson.
The course was started in early April 1870; by June tees and greens had been built, bunkers dug and the fairways mown by scythes. The course comprised of seven small greens about twenty feet square. There was no watering of the grass which was simply natural pasture grass. The fairways were only fifty feet wide and the longest hole was about 120 yards. A 'round' was twice around the 'course'.
The opening day drew a crowd of noisy onlookers anxious to watch the 'nobs and swells' playing the strange game. But the Advertiser reported later that they soon grew tired of watching and left.
The scorching Adelaide Summer stopped golf on the new course and with the summer came problems with the clubs when glue dried out in the joints of the long headed clubs with their beechwood heads and ash shafts which had to be lashed to the bedpost during summer to keep them straight. Repairs were also difficult to make.
Late in the season the golfers had faced another menace with young boys who stole the 'gutties' under the noses of the fore-caddies who were employed by the players to go ahead and mark the balls.
Cows too were a menace as they had the run of the parklands and left their prints on the well-scythed greens, tees and fairways. The mind boggles at the 'lift and clean' rule!
This pioneer golf club struggled gamely on for two years, but the odds were against it. Soon after the departure of their founding patron the club finally gave the links back to the cows and players broke into smaller groups to play on makeshift private courses at Gawler, Mitcham and Dulwich until the early 1890s.
Muir Maclaren in his book (Sydney 1976) on golf folklore and history attributes the decline of golf in Australia from 1875 to 1890s to an economic boom period with great prosperity, expansion and exploration. There were the explorations of the continent with McDouall Stuart crossing the continent from south to north; the population expanded from one million to three million between 1858 and 1889; railways connecting the States were built; overseas telegraphic communication was established with Britain and gold was discovered in the West and Queensland. Although a serious depression was soon to follow in the early 1890s, efforts made by enthusiasts to form golf clubs met with immediate response and golf really began to flourish in Australia.
Muir Maclaren claims," 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 Queensland Golf Club (1893 and changed to Townsville 1924), the Newlands Golf Club, Hobart (1896) and The Australian Golf Club (1895).
North Adelaide Golf Club was formed in 1890 by Mr William Pope (refer appendix 1) and a group of professional men - Solicitors, Bank Managers, Engineers, Accountants, Teachers and Public Servants. The Club was first recorded in City Council records as 'the golf club' and 'Montefiore golf club' and had been playing on a nine-hole course at Montefiore Park. The early NAGC members all lived in North Adelaide or nearby as, in the 1890s, there were very few motors, only bicycles, cabs, horse trams, trains or simply walking.
William Pope, the club's founder, lived next door to the golf course at 109 Strangways Terrace, now occupied by a large block of flats on the corner of Hill Street. He later lived at 144 Strangways Terrace. His firm W. & T. Pope, Solicitors, had rooms in Eagle Chambers a part of the Adelaide Town Hall building.
Other founding members were:-
- W.H.R. Porter lived at 136 Mills Terrace and in 1895 was manager of the National Bank in O'Connell Street North Adelaide. He later became a sharebroker and had his office in Cowra Chambers in Grenfell Street.
- H.T. Wadey, an assayer and accountant lived over at 4 Robe Terrace. Medindie ( He was club president in 1930 and again from 1938 to 1948).
- C.H.T. O'Connor, a miller and pastoralist lived at 144 Barnard Street North Adelaide.
- A. Giles, a solicitor, lived at 122 Strangways Terrace. Mortimer Giles lived at the same address, and he was Register General of Deeds, also Register of Building Societies.
- S.W. Dunkin, an engineer, lived at 24 Buxton Street North Adelaide.
- F.S. Rogers, instructor at the School of Mines lived at 174 East Terrace Adelaide.
- At 37 Strangways Terrace lived J.W. Kingsmill who was on the Pastoral Board (possibly some connection with our first official club champion N.T. Kingsmill in 1921).
- W.A. Wadey also lived at 4 Robe Terrace North Adelaide.
Another more affluent group again followed the lead. On the 9th August 1892, Lieut. Colonel A Gordon was granted permission by Council, for what he called his 'South Australian Golf Club', to play on a course established on the north parklands bounded by Robe, Kingston and LeFevre Terraces on payment of a fee of one Guinea. In a letter acknowledging receipt of the council memorandum, the secretary of the new club, Mr M.G. Anderson reported a change of name and stated that "...the name of our club is 'Adelaide' not the 'South Australian' Golf Club".
The North Adelaide Golf Club at Montefiore Park and The Adelaide Golf Club at Medindie played golf in the early 1890s until a division appeared in the Adelaide club's ranks and most members amalgamated with the Glenelg Golf Club in 1896. The Glenelg Club had been formed in 1894 on land roughly to the south-east of the present day Glenelg course called Mr Sandison's paddock.
The Adelaide Club amalgamated with Glenelg Golf Club until 1904 when, owing to difficulties with the lease of land at Glenelg, 240 acres were bought at Seaton. The Adelaide Club was then established at Seaton in 1905 and the club's old lease and premises at Glenelg were disposed of to a newly formed Glenelg Club.
Meanwhile at Montefiore Park, North Adelaide Golf Club was named and officially opened under that name by Lady Way on 8 July 1905. The occasion was given prominence in the social news of The Adelaide Chronicle as Lady Way was the wife of the Right Hon. Sir Samuel J. Way., Bart., Lieutenant Governor., and Chief Justice of South Australia, and at that time was Acting Governor in the absence of the Governor of South Australia, Sir George Le Hunte.
Thus, North Adelaide Golf Club may claim not only its ninety nine officially recorded years (as a Municipal Course in 1905) but also claim to be the only club to continue in the early tradition of Parklands golf since 1890.
In fact, 12 months earlier, North Adelaide Golf Club was one of the foundation members of the South Australian Golf Association established in 1904. The Association was formed at a meeting in the former Gresham Hotel on 20 August of that year. Founding committee members included Messrs E. Phillipson, J.M. Meikle, T. Gow. S.A. Davenport, A.S. Johnson, H. Swift. W.J. Gunson and Mr. Wainwright. Mr Gunson was elected President. The registered clubs included Strathalbyn, Beaumont, Oakbank, Magill, McLaren Vale, Gawler, Kadina, Hahndorf, Angaston and Kapunda.
North Adelaide, Adelaide and Glenelg clubs became associate clubs of the new Association.
The S.A. Golf Association continued as an active association and inter-club matches were frequent in its early years.
In 1906, North Adelaide Club Hon. Secretary, A.G.W. Beresford applied for admission to the Australian Golf Union. He explained the history of the club and said:
"The course is about one mile and a half long and contains nine holes. There are 58 gentlemen and 54 lady members. Entrance fee 10/6d for ladies, 21/- for gentlemen. Subscriptions 10/6 for ladies 21/- for gentlemen. I enclose you a copy of our last report and balance sheet, also 5/- for registration."
In its early days the club was known as the 'Providential Golf Club". If the rainfall was good, the greenkeeper, who was engaged on a casual basis cutting greens and weeding fairways at a salary of 3/6d per day, was able to keep the course in good condition. Water was not available from the local reservoirs for watering the fairways and greens. The land at Montefiore Park was leased at one guinea per year from the Adelaide City Council who controlled Adelaide's parklands and the club was responsible for maintenance of the links.
The address of the first cottage used as a clubhouse is not recorded but mention is made of a move to a cottage near the corner of Strangways Terrace and Hill Street in May 1906. The club rented the cottage at 8/6d a week from The S.A. Company on condition that it be cleaned and renovated before occupation.
Another move was not made until 1921 when two rooms of a cottage at 240 Ward Street and partial use of another room was rented. The club still had storage problems for the greenkeeper's plant and the club wrote thanking a Miss Sanderson "for allowing the club to store plant at her place".
For many early years the club's annual general meetings were held in the offices of club member W.H.R. Porter located in Cowra Chambers, Grenfell Street, Adelaide.
Secretary Beresford in 1906 sought to improve the nine greens on the course and was successful in asking the Adelaide Corporation to tap the water main on Strangways Terrace in three or four places and lay on the water. He also asked for wire netting fences around the greens which measured 18 to 20 square yards when sheep were grazing on the course.
Also in 1906 North Adelaide, Adelaide and Glenelg clubs shared the cost and time of professional golfer Mr. (J.H.) Scott for the tuition of members two days a week for each club.
A few years later caddies at the North Adelaide Golf Club went on strike for more money. They were getting 6d a round and wanted an increase of 50%. When this was refused only two or three caddies continued to work at the old rate.
"The aggrieved strikers assailed the loyalists with lusty cries of 'scab' and a couple of free fist fights resulted".
The golfers then decided to carry their own bags and the baffled caddies responded by throwing stones on the links. When one lad was called before the magistrate for using bad language, he said that he had been a golf caddie and had acquired the habit of swearing on the links, "You should hear them", he said , "when they miss the ball".
There were constant increases in membership in the years leading up to The Great War 1914-1918. Fifteen new members in 1912 and 24 new members in 1913. The club decided to close the membership list for men and start a waiting list. The number of ladies was allowed to come up to the same number as the men members. Twelve months later on 14 August 1914, seventeen men and nineteen women a total of 36 new members were elected to the club.
Earlier in 1914, the first full time caretaker was employed to replace the casual greenkeeper. Joe Bishop was appointed at one pound ten shillings per week. He was also allowed to give lessons on the course on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at 1/6d per lesson and became the second professional golfer recorded as giving golf lessons to club members.
The committee was busy resolving other problems with the running of the club such as reporting to Council that residents sitting on deck chairs were damaging the putting greens; that police be called, not only to the attention of a two-up school frequenting No. 7 green, but also that a plain clothes man be on the links to catch and punish boys taking golf balls.
The immediate effect of the Declaration of War on 4 August 1914 was the loss of younger membership who rushed to enlist and the club activity was restricted. Donations were made to War Relief Funds, investment in War Bonds and a Roll of Honour Board erected in the clubrooms to inscribe the names of Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) volunteers from the club. Greenkeeper Joe Bishop's services were not retained and a 14-inch "Green Mower' was purchased.
Only our Annual General Meeting minutes were recorded from 1915 to 1917. The usual official program was closed down and the club went into 'partial recess', as did most other golf clubs. Fees were reduced to half during this time. The South Australian Golf Association ceased operations in April 1916 (World War I 1914-1918) and reconvened in July 1920. Activities fully resumed on 31 March 1922 when fifteen clubs lined up for competitions.
After the War the NAGC began to pick up again and by 1920 new members outweighed resignations and the fees were put up again to one guinea for men and 10/6d for ladies. As the club prospered ideas of expansion were contemplated.
About that time the 'May Estate' was being divided up in the Lockleys area. A NAGC committee consisting of Messrs. Porter, Horton and Durkin were appointed to, 'look into the question of new links at Lockleys or elsewhere'. A decision on the Lockleys site was not recorded and some time later land known as 'May's Paddocks', and on old farmhouse named 'Surrey House', was used to lay out the first Kooyonga Golf Course of nine holes which opened for play in 1922. Just as the club learned of this development a letter was received from the Adelaide Corporation reporting that the lease of an enclosed paddock in the centre of Montefiore Park held by Mr. Israel Taylor would expire on 30 April 1922.
On 4 October 1920 in a question without notice Councillor J.S. Rees first broached the question of a Municipal Links in the Adelaide Parklands. He asked that the City Gardener report on the most suitable Parks for a Council operated golf links..
Five years of War had affected player numbers but due to the increase of numbers recently a further nine holes were mooted. The Adelaide City Gardener reported that the best site was Park No. 27 currently used by the NAGC and Park No.1 which would interfere with three tennis courts. The next best could be Parks 4, 5 and 6 (the site of the former Adelaide Golf Club) but this would interfere with several football and cricket grounds.
A Corporation Committee visited Seaton Golf Links in February 1921 to get an idea of the layout and possible cost while NAGC Club President Porter, Mr. Beger and local golf champion Mr. R Stewart (Kooyonga) inspected the Parklands about North Adelaide to consider the layout and cost of establishing a Links. Mr. Stewart recommended that Parks 1 and 2 combined, and Parks 4, 5 and 6 be combined, as the most suitable golf courses. (Part of these Parks are the present North Course).
The City Gardener reported that only a nine-hole course could be laid down, the greens need fencing to keep off the cattle and a water service was needed. The cost would be 320 pounds - this was later amended to 400 pounds.
Further reports on extending the course to 18 holes were reflected in a letter from the Council to the North Adelaide Golf Club on 25 April 1921:
"...one proposal before my sub-committee is that arrangements might be made with your club under which the Council would take over the existing nine hole course and extend it to an 18 hole course.
"The Links, if established, would of course be open to the public for playing purposes on payment of a fee, but it is thought that the members of your club would possibly be prepared to become members, the fee for which, of course would be fixed later on.
"A certain number of annual subscribers comprised of the members of your club and others who may wish to subscribe would provide the nucleus of funds required annually to meet the cost of maintenance of the Links, which would of course, be under the sole control of the Council who would provide the assistance necessary to take charge of the Links."
A plan of the proposed course prepared by Mr Stewart was included with a request from the Town Clerk for a list of members agreeable to become annual subscribers.
NAGC Committee supported the establishment of a Municipal Links and the following letter was sent to the Town Clerk by Club Secretary R.H.B. Russell in 14 May 1921.
".. I have to advise you that on certain matters referred to below being made clear and acceptable, my committee will agree to heartily support your proposal to establish an 18 hole golf course and assist you in any way possible. The membership of the club is at present about 150 of whom 100 are men, the men pay an annual subscription of one pound ten shillings and the ladies ten shillings and sixpence. It looks as if there may be a considerable increase in members in the present season. The present club-house is part of a cottage on the corner of Strangways Terrace and Hill Street, rented from the S.A. Company. It is rather too small for our use and would be unsuitable for a larger club.
"Before this matter can be submitted to the Club for approval, my committee has asked to be supplied with a complete plan of the new course as laid out by Mr. Stewart. The sketch supplied was not, from a golfing point of view, in any way suitable and it has been suggested that the City Gardener (who agreed) that Stewart be asked to transfer his sketch to one of your Parkland plans to alter the course so as to keep well clear of the proposed Memorial Drive and to supply the length between each 'tee' and its green. I am asked to urge you very strongly that the layout (of the course) which is the all important consideration can only be done by a golf professional and that the members of your sub-committee and two members of my committee (already appointed) should go over the whole course and approve it.
"My committee ask that the following concessions may be considered assuming that the transfer of the operating nine hole golf course may take place.
(1) That subscription of present members be not increased for three years. This is not to apply to new members.
(2) That any club-house that may be erected, two rooms fitted with lockers, (one for men, one for ladies) be set apart for the use of this club together with a lavatory: the club to pay a rental not exceeding 15/- a week. The club is prepared to hand over well-established greens and a water service worth some 400 pounds to 500 pounds to the Council, and my committee hopes that this will not be lost sight of and that the suggestions made in this letter receive your favourable consideration."
Another proposal from Council was that annual subscriptions be two guineas for men and women. NAGC Secretary Russell strongly objected and said that it would have the effect of preventing any present lady members from joining the club and it was usual in clubs that subscriptions for Ladies be half that for men. The Council agreed and the final proposal charge for Ladies was half that of the men. Yet another hotly debated issue was that 'Ladies (members and otherwise) should not be allowed to play on Saturdays and holidays'. The report was sent back to committee for further discussion but was passed without amendment.
Some months later it was reported that Ladies had been seen playing on the Links on Saturdays contrary to Council Regulations. It was found that Mr Stewart who was at that time Seaton and North Adelaide professional, was teaching ladies to play golf. He strongly recommended that ladies be allowed to play on Saturday mornings as there were few male members on the course. After 3.30 pm on Saturdays was another time the tees and greens from No.1 onward were not occupied.
Representatives of 'Business Women' also wrote in protest suggesting that subscriptions be equal for male and female with the right to play on any and every day. The Town Clerk instructed the City Gardener 'In future Ladies will be allowed to play on Saturdays until 12.30 pm and after 3 pm. You will instruct the man on the Links accordingly'.
Club fees still had to be collected to run the club and the annual club fees were reduced to ten shillings for men and five shillings for Ladies.
All members were advised by letter of the proposal to extend the Links. There were those who did not agree with the idea and of the 150 Club members, 84 opted to become annual subscribers to the A.C.C. Municipal Links - that is a mere 56%.
Some members must have joined other clubs but the minutes show that new members far outweighed the resignations from 1921 to 1923. However, two months before the opening day of the new Kooyonga course three new members were elected against 16 resignations. In addition, 36 names were removed from the list of members for subscriptions not paid for the season 1922/23.
During this time, there was an intermittently strong tide of wit, malice, eccentricity and righteous indignation against alienation of the Parklands in any form whatever in Letters to the Editor. One correspondent complained of golf balls whizzing past his ears as he strolled through the park and the 'hooligan' golfer who abused him when he complained. Others said that cricket was just as dangerous especially if anyone strolled near a pitch when a player hit a 'sixer'. Others attacked the 'well to do' for being able to afford to play golf while 'not even ten women of the working class play golf in Adelaide.'
A notice announcing the opening of the new course with 20 professionals playing a competition was sent to the Register, Advertiser, Daily Herald and The News, on 10 August 1923. ...'The Lord Mayor (Mr L. Cohen) gave a luncheon on the Montefiore Golf Course last Saturday and unfurling the Union Jack declared the Links open. The prizemoney of 20 guineas was contributed jointly by the North Adelaide Golf Club and the City Council and a special prize was given by Mr Wadey for the best round. No more talented field has ever competed at North Adelaide. Five of the pros had either won or did win the Australian Open - Carnegie Clark (1906,1910,1911), Arthur LeFevre (1921), Thomas Howard (1923), Fred Popplewell (1925) and Rufus Stewart (1927).
'Prior to the start of the second round of play in the afternoon the Lord Mayor proceeded to the second tee and drove the ball well and truly to mark the official opening of the Municipal Links. A crowd of caddies were assembled to scramble for the ball. The happy finder of the ball received two half crowns.
'The result of the competition proved a great triumph for local man R Stewart who led the field by ten strokes. Results:- R Stewart (Kooyonga) 74, 67 -141. His second round of 67 was the best for the day and a record for the links.
..." Mr R Stewart received ten guineas and the four golfers equal for second place received two pounds twelve shillings and six pence."
The NAGC and the City Council had a vested interest in improving the golf links and keeping membership at a reasonable level. Member numbers dropped again early in 1924.
The club dropped membership fees to 10/6d 'to enable the club to enrol as members all outside players'. Constructive suggestions to City Council on improving the course were made by the club. Grounds surrounding the new Club-house were graded, two lawns planted, and all greens dressed and sanded. All tees were raised, planted with couch grass and connected with the water service. Seventeen cross bunkers were formed and drinking fountains erected near the clubhouse and at No.9 green.
As a consequence, NAGC prospered over the next few years reflecting the optimism of the boom years. The Council register listed 263 annual subscribers in addition to a large number of casual players using the Links. Revenue from the Links had surpassed the City Council's most sanguine expectations.
Armed with information of facilities enjoyed by golfers on the Moore Park Municipal Links in NSW, NAGC pushed for improved accommodation for members. Council took this on board as well as requests from the public for refreshments after a round of golf.
A new building was constructed by builder, Mr. P. Hilton at a cost of 3,240 pounds to complement the existing golf house and form part of a scheme for future extensions. The extra accommodation comprised public lounge, ladies room, cafe, kitchen, scullery, servery, attendant's room and a 14 foot wide balcony.
The Lady Mayoress (Mrs Lavington Bonython) officially opened the additions to the clubrooms on Friday 2 June 1928 in front of a large crowd including The Lord Mayor (Mr. Lavington Bonython), members of the City Council and representatives of many golf clubs. A memorial from 107 golfers presented to Council by Ald. Rees stated that: "the depasturing of cattle on the links be prohibited and that the fences around the greens be removed".
For safety reasons, in January 1929 the new No.1 tee was built north of the Golf House and west of Hill Street. The former site of the first tee was fenced off and made available for golfers to park their cars when playing on the Links. The other tees were renumbered and an 18 hole putting green was constructed immediately south of the Golf House.
Council introduced a timetable for Saturdays and Sundays (allowing three minutes between groups) to cope with the crowding on these days. Bookings made a week in advance cost threepence.
In 1928 permits numbered 11,908 and receipts 1,825 pounds and in 1930 permits were 14,708 and receipts 2,256 pounds.
It was a time of optimism and endeavour. Club stalwart, Harry Durkin typified the era with an amazing accomplishment. Starting at 4.45am, Harry completed nine rounds and 12 extra holes before 7.45pm. He holed out at every one and averaged a shade over 82 for each round and covered a distance of 28 miles.
Secretary Kitson reported a great season, increased revenue, more members, course records broken or equalled and "...the previous 1929 season has been the most successful in the history of NAGC.."
From this high note the club, council and State stepped into the gloom of the Great Depression.
The financial depression and lack of employment affected all clubs in the State. NAGC membership fell with a net loss of 18 men and 10 Associates and the club did not show a profit in those years. The number of golfers playing the course also fell and Council dispensed with all temporary labourers. Essential course maintenance was continued but any large projects were deferred 'for the time being'.
However, one club request to Council was successful and this was the building of a room for the NAGC professional late in 1932. NAGC paid a rental for five years and cost of machinery and fittings for the professional golf shop. A ballot was held to elect a professional from the application list and Mr. A.J. Polson was appointed Club Professional, firstly on probation then on retainer of ten guineas and rental of 15 pounds a year.
In 1936 there was a reshuffle of five holes because of the continued hold up of players on the 2nd tee due to two short holes in succession.
In 1937 a number of unemployed golfers entered and left the links at out-lying parts to avoid paying fees. Council frowned upon this and erected signs prohibiting the practice under penalty at three sites along the river side of the course.
The declaration of war on 3 September 1939 affected the activities of Adelaide Council and the NAGC with loss of members and manpower and general shortage of materials. The Club bought 200 pounds worth of War Savings Certificates and donated profits and competition proceeds to Red Cross funds.
Only one major project set in train was the planting of 76 trees to beautify the course. Council claimed the Links would be much improved from a playing point of view and in general appearance by the planting of trees to define fairways and give shelter to golfers in bad weather.
A few years later another 276 trees of 15 varieties, and 64 shrubs were planted. The question of a water supply to the Links was deferred until after the war.
In 1945, Mr Angus Polson was appointed professional at the Golf Links at 75 pounds a year.
In the same year, at the Club's AGM, Mr. Polson was elected Hon. Secretary of the Club. This placed him in the unique position of holding the dual role of Club Professional and Club Secretary.
Golf became more popular in the years following the war and the Municipal Links was crowded with players.
The 1946 golf season saw the return of the first Pennant matches since the War. NAGC won the B Pennant for the first time in the history of the club defeating Royal Adelaide at Seaton, Glenelg at NAGC, Grange at Grange, losing to Kooyonga at Kooyonga but then defeating Kooyonga in a return match at NAGC. The cups presented to the winning team by SAGA were provided by NAGC Vice President Mr T. Riddock.
Introduction of the 40-hour working week created more leisure time for people and many turned to golf as a pastime. This led to the idea of a second 18-hole golf course at North Adelaide. Its establishment had a rough passage in Council with some councillors strongly opposing it. Letters to the Editor also criticised the cutting down of trees and that the golfers were monopolising the parklands. The project was deferred for three months and then put forward again. Council voted 12 for and 4 against and work started on the second course in January 1950 at a cost of 5,460 pounds.
Holes on Course number one were reshuffled and 22 holes built during the reconstruction. Development of the two courses was carried out by head groundsman Ken Trebilcock who retired in 1975 after 40 years’ service. Golfers were able to play on both courses by 23 May 1950.
An unexpected problem arose on the new Course. A man would hide among the trees and send his dog out to pick up golf balls during play. Police lay in wait for the offender who fled throwing golf balls from his pockets. He was caught, charged and appeared in court. The dog was not apprehended!
By the next year 1952, Council planted a total of 613 trees and 88 shrubs on Courses 1 and 2. Among these, 124 trees were planted to form an avenue to the footpath crossing the links from the clubhouse to the corner of Memorial Drive and Montefiore Road. The Moreton Bay trees on the South Course (No.1) are believed to be about 120 to 140 years old.
At the 1952 AGM the resignation of Angus Polson as club secretary was accepted 'with regret'. He held the office for more than 8 years and the club flourished during his time. Norm Williams was elected as his replacement. A Smoke Social in honour of Angus Polson was held at the RSL Hall Angus Street Adelaide on 4 June 1952 was attended by 120 club members and representatives of the Press, Professional Golf Association of Australia and the South Australian Golf Association.
Angus Polson stepped down as Golf Professional later and Mr Bruce Auld was the successful applicant for the advertised position and started his duties on 22 November 1954. Bruce Auld was a leading golf professional and State Professional Champion several times. Assistant pros were John Burton (later Grange G.C. Pro) and Mr Duncan Pearce.
It quickly unfolded that the Club was most fortunate to have new Secretary, Norm Williams who was an energetic and hardworking replacement. He soon also revealed talents as promoter, publicity man and organiser. The club flourished under his leadership for eleven years until he died on 13 June 1965. Norm Williams pursued a single-minded ambition to see NAGC rank among the major SA golf clubs.
The first steps to this goal were achieved with the building of a clubhouse and the Council allocation of permanent tee-times for Club competitions.
Until the clubhouse became available, even AGMs were held on the veranda in front of a cafeteria run by Aubrey Earle on the western side of our present clubrooms. There was also the uncertainty and indignity of restricted hit-off times forcing members to arrive at the clubhouse at 4.30 am on Saturdays to make sure their names were on the Time Sheet for a game. Among many other achievements of Norm Williams was the organising of yearly morale building Smoke Socials and an Annual Club Dinner complete with Souvenir Program.
- Norm was elected as the first delegate from the club to the executive of SAGA.
- The NAGC Associates were given control of their finances with a report tended to the Club AGM.
- Club activities, match results and competitions were reported in the newspapers and on Radio 5AD.
- The Club Pennant Team was encouraged and sponsored. A team taxi to Mt Osmond allowed practice and lunch prior to the match. NAGC defeated Mt Osmond 6:1 in the first match under the new conditions.
- NAGC Pennant team of 1957 won the series undefeated. In true Norm Williams style, a dinner in their honour was held at the Botanic Hotel and the committee and captains of all the Pennant teams were invited.
- Summer golf was introduced and quickly grew into first Summer competitions. Entrance fee 1/6d and 25/- trophy for the winner. Sponsors were N.K. Watson for the stroke game, W.J.Hayter for the Eclectic and J. Mesnil for the Bogey trophy. Prior to this all competitions were held in the winter months.
- The first Kennedy Putter competition was started.
- 1953. The Lord Mayors Trophy commenced. A field of 260 contested a silver plate which was presented by Lord Mayor Arthur Rymill to Don Rutherford (Kooyonga) with 69.
- Norm William's started a program to foster junior golf with two scholarships for leading junior golfers from College, High School and Technical School. Norm organised free tuition from a golf professional.
- Once running, this program led to NAGC producing the finest group of juniors in any club in the State. Of note, graduates who went on to win the Club Championship included Darrell Cahill (1967), Dean Wiles (1968 and 1970), Mike Richards (1971-72-73) and Mike Haslett (1977 and 1978) and represented the State.
During 1958 more than 74,000 golfers tramped over Course 1 and 2, Barry Payne gave the Club its first State Title as Junior Champion of SA.
In 1959 the names of No.1 and No.2 courses were changed to North and South Courses respectively.
A Par 3 'Pitch and Putt' course was opened by Rt. Hon. Lord Mayor L.M. Hargreaves Esq M.C., V.R.D., on 3 March 1960. It was the first of its kind in Australia and was modelled on overseas courses. Nine holes were floodlit for night play. A practice putting green and picnic facilities completed the public recreational complex.
A restaurant called "Ernest's" overlooking the river was completed at a cost of 5350 pounds by R.G. Bray Contractors.
In September 1962, Norm was struck with sudden illness which kept him from Club duties for four months. Norm relinquished Secretary duties at the following AGM and sadly died only 20 months later.
The late 1960s and early 1970s reached a plateau of development by Council as far as major projects on the Municipal Golf Links were concerned.
In interclub events, North Adelaide Golf Club was elevated to the Simpson Cup competition in 1967 and was not disgraced in any of its seven years’ stay. NAGC reached the final in only its second year, losing 4:3 against Glenelg. Even so, the Committee was aware that some SAGA officials held the view that playing rounds of the Simpson Cup on a ‘municipal course’ was somehow detrimental to the progress of golf in South Australia.
Accordingly, in 1974, it was not a great surprise when SAGA altered the Simpson Cup playing conditions effectively forcing NAGC relegation to B Pennant.
Understandably, many low handicapper players left the club to play Simpson Cup at other courses. As a consequence, even in B Pennant, the club's performance fell away sharply and we dropped from Division 1 to Division 2. The enthusiasm and status that Norm Williams injected into interclub golf at North Adelaide was drained.
The links known as the 'Municipal Golf Links' for 50 years changed its name on 26 September 1983 to the 'City of Adelaide Golf Links'. Council claimed the name 'Municipal' was an antiquated term for what has been described as 'one of the best public courses in the world'.
At the same time approval was given for the installation on the South Course of a new TORO automatic irrigation system involving 70 kilometres of pipe at a cost of $500k and installed by Adelaide Irrigation Sales and Service Pty. Ltd.
The new system replaced the former manually operated stop cocks, hoses and sprinklers and allowed night watering to offset evaporation. Plans were prepared to also upgrade the irrigation on the North Course and Par 3 Course at a later date.
In 1985 NAGC published a book entitled 'Eighty Golfing Years' written by club member and journalist/historian, Clarrie Bell, to commemorate the history of the North Adelaide Golf Club Inc. Assistance in compiling information from former and older members was given by the history sub-committee members Merle Martens, Ken Alexander and Wally McMahon. Many of the 1000 books printed were sold at a Book Launching and Dinner combined with an historical dress-up golfing competition played on that week-end.
A new Course Rating and Handicapping System was introduced on Saturday 4 April 1992. Approved by the Australian Golf Union, the daily course rating was now known as the (CCR) Calculated Course Rating and worked out by using the nett scores returned by competitors. This system is still in use.
After a period of minimal attention to the course, the 7th hole was re-aligned including a new green and a bunker. It was opened on 4 July 1993 and other general improvements were planned for greens, tees, paths and signage, as well as the rebuilding of the 10th tee on the South Course.
In 1995, Phil Smith won the club championship for the third successive time and giving him a total of six titles.
At a time when little new work was being undertaken on the course, the Club’s finances drifted into decline. At the 1995 AGM, the Treasurer's Report revealed a trading loss of $5416 which was the third successive deficit in excess of $5000.
Club Auditor, Mr D Rayner stated “the club would be bankrupt in five years if this trend continued”.
Reasons for the loss included increases in the Club’s principle running costs such as rent, maintenance, and Booking Fees ( an increase of 68.4% in only three years) while revenues were inhibited by lower Club membership and reduced interest earnings on investment funds.
The AGM was attended by 60 members who expressed their concerns. As a first step, Entrance Fees and subscriptions were increased.
Club harmony did not improve and the AGM of the following year was a marathon affair attended by the largest 'roll-up' in memory. The AGM produced an 'historic upheaval' and four new members were elected including the first lady member on the Committee, Mrs J. Mitchell.
The AGM did little to clear the air and it was apparent Club loyalties were divided.
In 1995 a 'risk audit' was carried out on the three courses by Tony Cashmore, Golf Course Architect to advise Council on safety improvements. The main objectives were to satisfy insurers and recommend remedies such as redesign of tees, fairways and greens so that the safety of players and passers-by could be enhanced. As an aside, Council draft budget plans for 1995-96 included a new control system fitted to the South Course Irrigation.
The 1996-elected Management Committee set about the tasks of restoring Club morale, promoting unity and establishing sound financial controls. After a year or so on the Planning Committee, Eric McCalden took over the helm as President. Later, Frank Braybon assumed the captaincy and Geoffrey Duthie was to become Secretary/ Manager.
Secretary Duthie quickly proved to be capable of dealing with member queries in a cheerful and prompt manner. President McCalden established budgeting accountability and set a review procedure in place for the Club to overhaul everything relating to members and Club practices . Frank Braybon again lifted the profile of the Club Pennant team.
Over the next three years, the Club declared a trading surplus and many initiatives were implemented. Included were:-
- A successful membership drive held in early 1997 welcomed 35 males and nine female new members to the club. The 44 new members were accepted from 102 interviews from 360 applications.
- The Club Constitution was rewritten to comply with Liquor Licensing Acts and Equal Opportunity guidelines. The new document recognised ladies as ‘members and not ‘Associates’ and permitted affiliations and sponsorships.
- Recognition of Life Members was significantly enhanced
- Fundraising efforts were reinvigorated and the very successful Member’s Raffle introduced.
- An Affiliation Agreement with Islington Works G.C. and Shell G.C. to use our clubhouse facilities was executed.
- A second membership drive without the use of radio or print media advertising gained 40 new members to the club.
- The Club contributed 50% of the cost to erect 2 practice nets for the benefit of members.
- Club events and especially the Presentation Luncheon were given increased prominence on the Club’s calendar.
- Club records and member services were computerised.
During the same period, Council commenced actions to revamp the whole golfing complex. Three years after the safety audit was carried out on North Adelaide Golf Links, Council accepted the recommendations of a Future Options Study of the City of Adelaide Golf Links (CAGL) and put them out to community consultation.
In the 18 months to December 1997, eight studies were carried out by five different organisations costing between $6,250 and $49,396 each. The reports included environmental, engineering and future options studies.
Council vacillated between a minimum upgrade costed at $1.2 million or a $6 million overhaul re-developing to create three nine-hole courses. Construction was expected to take 12 to 18 months with completion by Christmas 1998.
Club President McCalden saw that the Future Options Study paid little regard to the history of North Adelaide Golf Club and its relationship with the Adelaide City Council (ACC). The Club’s longstanding leasing arrangements were cancelled and a monthly tenancy implemented despite member protests. The ‘partnership’ formed in 1921 to create a municipal golf course and a resident golf club was under threat.
The Council report indicated our Club was small, inward thinking, too dependent on Council support - a social golf club.
To change that perception, we prepared a Formal Response Document to clearly state our historical strength, our relevance to the future wellbeing of the golf course and the level of input that we could contribute to the planning process."
The Club initiated a publicity campaign to increase membership; commenced negotiations for a new lease of clubrooms; formed Planning Sub-Committee to assess the working of the club and develop a plan to define future goals and aims of the club.
In December 1996 the $6 million NAGL Development Plan was dramatically dropped after enormous community opposition. More than 1800 signatures from golfers and residents opposed plans to turn the South 18-hole course into an international standard course while scrapping the North golf course.
Council administration began work to determine how both 18-hole courses could be kept while still upgrading one to international standard.
Despite a majority Councillor support for the Club to be re-instated as a long term tenant, a new lease was not forthcoming.
The reviews continued … and were discarded. On 7 October 1998, another Redevelopment Plan for the Golf Links was thrown out at the Tuesday Council Meeting. NAGC members attended the meeting and reported that the decision meant another period of consultation, proposals and negotiations.
Then Council declined to renew commercial arrangements with the Golf Links Manager and assumed management of the three courses. The Function Room was upgraded and re-opened. However, a Booking Fee for Saturday competition times was also introduced.
In 2002, yet another consultancy group was engaged and Simply Greater Leisure (SGL) began a review of City of Adelaide Golf links. SGL had previously been engaged by Council in relation to the Aquatic Centre.
The Club’s verbal and written submissions pursued the same three objectives it had enunciated since this review process began, namely Tenure of clubrooms; Access for competitions; Cost remain in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI). (These objectives are the same as those fought for by 1950’s Secretary, Norm Williams.)
In January 2004, a meeting was convened between Club President McCalden, the Lord Mayor, the Right Honorable Michael Harbison and the Council CEO Dr Mal Hemmerling. Mr McCalden asked that our Centenary Year proceeded without a query concerning the future of the Club and to enable planning for a suitable Centenary Year project.
The Lord Mayor acknowledged the injustice of the situation and set some ‘high level’ wheels in motion to satisfy the Club’s requirements in this milestone year.
In June 2004 a new lease agreement was offered to the Club and for the first time, included a Charter that defines the Club’s relationship and entitlements. It was eventually signed in 2007.
It allowed for a major refurbishment of our tired and dated Clubroom.
Even while the Club was struggling with ‘big picture’ affairs, on the home-front the agenda to improve the Club continued strongly:-
- Approval was granted to construct a number of flower beds around the course as part of a beautification program.
- Approval received to plant of 100’s of trees and shrubs by members and climbing vines to ‘green’ internal fences.
- A new Club flag was commissioned and an application to erect flagpoles along the first tee-block was approved by Council. The Club flag now flies proudly and prominently 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
The 16th hole was drastically upgraded mid-2002 converting the hole to a par-3 but improving the safety to passersby and adjoining residences.
A new practise fairway was set up from the 1st tee of the South Course.
History Of The North Adelaide Golf Club
Read the history Of The North Adelaide Golf Club, 1904 - 2005.read more...
Centenary Year Celebrations
The flagship event of the North Adelaide Golf Club Centenary year celebrations was a gala dinner held at Adelaide's then-premier venue, the ballroom of the Hyatt Hotel.read more...
History of Golf in South Australiaread more...
Club Championsread more...