Latrobe Golf Club is one of three Melbourne clubs celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023, and a group of GSA members and guests enjoyed a fascinating history forum at its Alphington clubhouse in late November.
The club has updated its history book ‘Riverside Masterstroke’
Thanks to the hard work of club members Paul Robinson, June Senyard, Brendan Mathews and the late and much-missed Murray Cropley. These four dedicated members added to the earlier history written by former champion player and member Garry Mansfield.
Those at the forum heard the fascinating story of how the club has developed on a 19th century estate once known as ‘Lucerne Farm’
established by early settler Thomas Wills. A grand oak tree planted in 1842 by daughter Kate Wills still spreads its stately boughs beside the 7th green. Known as the Noble Oak, it is the club’s emblem.
Brendan Mathews and Paul Robinson told the forum guests about Latrobe’s evolution from buying a 9-hole public golf course on the old estate, expanding to 18 holes and even developing a 5-hole short course called ‘The Island’ on land surrounded by a loop of the Yarra River between Latrobe and neighbouring Green Acres GC. It opened just a year ago.
They pointed out the site at the top of the clubhouse carpark of the rundown Lucerne mansion which was demolished by Whelan The Wrecker in the 1960s. They proudly described the clubhouse as a social melting pot popular with sporting and racing identities. One former member was a noted SP bookie, and there is a theory that the Great Bookie Robbery might have been hatched in the front bar by shady characters overhearing talk of large amounts of bookies’ cash at the Victoria Club.
GSA member Peter Stickley was a special guest at the forum, and told of being a young assistant pro at Latrobe in 1958-59 under club pro Stan MacGeorge. Stickley used to ride his bike to work from Balwyn to Alphington and had fond memories of his kindly boss. Peter brought a group of historic clubs to display at the forum and explained how he restores old hickory and steel implements. He also donated to Latrobe a left-handed driver stamped with Stan MacGeorge’s name.
After the forum, 10 players enjoyed 9 holes of hickory golf around the picturesque front nine.
Peter Stickley joined the hickory group.
The Noble Oak tree