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Presidents Trophy – Royal Melbourne GC – Monday 24 July

By Events, 2023 No Comments

The President’s Trophy was run and won, on a mild winter’s day at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, making a nice change for the players as the past two years were played in rain drenched conditions.

Our popular competition with the condition of a 7-club limit, starts with a nine-hole handicap stroke round with the top four Nett scores progressing to sudden death match play to determine the winner.

The finalists were Bernie Ryan and past winner David Worley, with Bernie winning their first hole, making a solid 4.

Hover over image to see captions

Don Lawrence Trophy – Monday 13 May

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 The first major golfing event for 2023 was held at Spring Valley golf club on Monday 15th May.  A field of 31 players lined up for this prestigious 4BBB Stableford event celebrating the enormous life of journalist Don Lawrence who was a major voice in promoting golf through his regular newspaper column. By any standards the impact his words had on both contemporary and emerging golfers who looked most forward to his previews and reviews of tournaments and in particular pennant golf was outstanding. His legacy extended into the GSA where he served as President from 1992-94.

Leading up to the event there was much apprehension as to what the weather would bring.  High rainfall during April and early May (some 200mm) along with significant decreases in temperature were potentially awaiting us again.  However, the players were greeted with sunshine, light wind and warm weather making the course vulnerable that was clearly reflected by some in the scoring.  Included in the field was our current President Kim Hastie and life member Dick Kirby, he also being a life member of Spring Valley Golf club.

So, onto the golf!!

The golf course (a Vern Morcom gem) was set up to allow good scoring and presented in excellent condition.  At 12:30 our field of competitors took to the course for a multi-tee start.

Following the golf players enjoyed snacks and drinks in the club house where the presentations revealed the winners of the Don Lawrence trophy, runner’s up, best front and back nines, longest drive and nearest the pin.  Additionally, the GSA provided a prize for the best member/non-member combination. The competition was very close with the major trophy only being decided on a count back.

And the winners were:

  • Don Lawrence trophy: Jenny Picking and David Rew C/B
  • Runner’s up: Jamie Holland and Dean Mottram
  • Member/non-member: Peter Crowe and Travis Cox
  • Best front nine: Jamie Holland and Dean Mottram
  • Best back nine: Jenny Picking and David Rew
  • Long drive: Men: Dean Mottram   Women: Stella Cugley
  • Nearest the pin 3rd hole: Men: Bruce Sutherland   Women: Stella Cugley
  • Nearest the pin 10th hole: Men: John Scheffer  Women: Jenny Picking

Congratulations to all the winners and all who competed.  While the competition is exciting it is the coming together and sharing each other’s company that is important.

A big shout out to our Secretary Stella Cugley whose organisation was simply the best.  Thank you to Spring Valley Golf Club for a wonderful day enjoyed by all (based on some very flattering and positive feedback) and to Superintendent Craig Anthony (ex-Royal Melbourne) and his team who continue to improve the layout and condition pf the course.

We look forward to catching up with everyone again our future events.



Dinner – Kingston Heath GC – Monday 26 June

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Dinner at Kingston Heath Golf Club ……..Tales of a Volunteer

Our speaker was Golf Society member Peter Bellion APM, a retired Detective Sergeant with Victorian Police serving many years with the Major Collision Investigative Unit, a golfer for 47 years, and a member of Huntingdale Golf Club.

Peter is, however, most proud of his work as a long-time and dedicated volunteer and is an example of how volunteers play a key role in the success of both professional and community organisations. Peter will share with us his volunteering journey including his experiences at Golf Tournaments and with Life Saving Victoria.

Thanks to John Trevorrow for this report-

The second GSA dinner for the year was held in late June, 50 members and guests heard a moving presentation from Peter Bellion, APM.

Peter is a GSA member and is recently retired from serving many years with Victoria Police as a detective sergeant. Much of his service was in the Major Collision Investigation Unit, where Peter came into contact with the results of road trauma.

Peter has been a golfer for 47 years, and is a former captain and board member at Huntingdale GC, where he plays as often as family duties allow.

His talk was titled ‘Tales of a Volunteer’ and he entertained the audience with anecdotes and reminiscences about his many years of volunteering at Victorian golf tournaments and with Life Saving Victoria. Tales of his years with Victoria Police underscored the shared responsibility we all have to drive as carefully as possible on the roads.

Peter is a member and volunteer at Port Melbourne Lifesaving Club. He revealed that club membership across lifesaving is approximately 50/50 men and women, noted that this is in contrast to private golf clubs, where women membership typically hovers between 20 and 30 per cent.

A major theme of Peter’s talk revolved around the important contribution that volunteers make to our society, in whatever capacity they serve. “Without volunteers and volunteering, a lot of things just wouldn’t happen, and our communities would be the poorer for it,” he said.

And the benefits for the volunteers themselves are just as important, with social engagement being such a vital thing for good mental health and personal wellbeing.

The dinner was held at Kingston Heath GC, and the member and guests once again enjoyed the excellent food and service at this historic club.

Peter Bellion with President Kim Hastie

Peter Bellion with 2018 World Cup of Golf Volunteer Co Chairs Kim Hastie & Vicki Van der Venne – Metropolitan Golf Club

Golf Historians Forum -Kingston Heath GC – 1 May 2023

By 2023, Historians Forum 2023 No Comments

Our first Historians Forum for the year was held at Kingston Heath Golf Club – Monday 1 May

A very pleasing number attended and heard from notable Kingston Heath members, who presented an insight into the more recent history of Kingston Heath Golf Club.

The key speakers were:

Geoffrey Knight (Past President) -Property strategy including acquisitions.

Grant Nicholson (Archives Steering Committee) -Water and irrigation.

Robert Belleville (Archives Steering Committee) – Archives Business Model

Colin McKenzie (Archives Steering Committee) – Course development and changes.

Robert Belleville (Archives Steering Committee) – Library

Click on the link for the full report –

GSA hickory players participate in Royal Park GC 120th celebrations

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Royal Park Golf Club celebrates 120 years… They created a special event coinciding with celebrations for the 120th anniversary of Melbourne’s unique historic course. An all-day golf event,open to anyone was organised and to help celebrate GSA were asked to send a group of hickory players to play in the afternoon team’s event.

Congratulations to the club and GSA /Royal Park member Bruce Sutherland for organising a very enjoyable day.


Report of Royal Park Golf Club 120th anniversary event, Sunday March 19th

 By Michael Davis

Royal Park GC president, Bruce Sutherland, is a member of St Andrews in Scotland. “Luckily, I am a ‘country member’ which makes it affordable. It’s very dear otherwise.”

But Bruce cherishes his membership at Royal Park just as dearly as he does that at the venerable home of the game of golf.

Like Royal Park, St Andrews is indeed a public course provided you can afford the green fees, which are considerably higher than the iconic Melbourne 9-holer which runs alongside the Melbourne Zoo in Parkville. Golfers at Royal Park often stand over the driver or a crucial putt to a roar from the lions’ den or trumpet from the elephants’ enclosure.

All of this, according to Sutherland, adds to the charm of the place. But more than that, he believes 9-hole public courses in Australia are the lifeblood of the game.

He says he is honoured to be president of Royal Park and was thrilled to  celebrate the club turning 120 years old in March this year. It was probably men like Sutherland who in 1903, soon after the federation of Australia, formed the Royal Park Golf Club on their own initiative.

“They leased the land, built and maintained the course with their own resources, time and physical work in Royal Park on the edge of the heart of the city. This park, at 170 hectares, is the largest green space in Melbourne. It now includes fields and facilities for a wide range of sports, the Zoo, wetlands and a range of public facilities,” Sutherland says.

“The place is steeped in history,” he adds proudly. “The area was originally a ceremonial place for people of the Eastern Kulin nation. From the outset, the golfers’ first tee was next to the cairn where Bourke and Wills began their ill-fated expedition.”

One of Royal Park’s many beautiful quirks is that it is the only known course in the world which has both a train and tram lines running through it.

The course began as 18 holes but over the years as the park developed it was moved to a variety of positions in Royal Park. After being mowed by one-man mowers, a horse-drawn mower was introduced in 1929.

The club endured many highs and lows over the years in terms of membership numbers and financial security. In the 1960s the club held monthly dances. It is now a public, 9-hole, undulating, tree-lined golf course in the north-east section of the park. It has survived the effects of two world wars (during the second of which thousands of soldiers were camped in the park), densification of the neighbouring suburbs, the burning down of the clubhouse, as well as the effect of the Covid pandemic when the local pet dogs thought they had found a new heaven on the empty fairways.

The club has been a nursery for hundreds, maybe thousands, of golfers. The most prestigious of which is five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, widely regarded as Australia’s best-ever golfer. Peter discovered the game as a young lad when his uncle ran his greyhound on the fairways. Living close the fourth hole, with only a single club the boy began hitting the white ball in 1941 when nobody was around. Once his talent was spotted he was greatly encouraged by some members of Royal Park Golf Club.

In 1942 he became a member when the club lowered its entry age to 13 to accommodate him. He won its championship in 1945. A plaque at the first hole commemorates his relationship to the club.

On Sunday March 19th, more than 90 players (juniors, women, men and veterans) gathered at the club to celebrate its longevity and 120th anniversary. The festive day started with a shotgun 18 holes played in the morning followed by lunch, light-hearted speeches — including a moving one by Peter Thomson’s son Andrew – and a prize-giving by Peter Ross, president of the Victorian Golf League.

In the afternoon there was a 9-hole ambrose competition with many of the golfers playing with old hickory clubs and some even donning plus-fours for the occasion. Fifteen members of the Golf Society of Australia and their guests joined in, and these hickory players even featured among the prize-winners in the afternoon competition.

“All the golfers were aware of their indebtedness to the founders of the club, acknowledging all the efforts and commitment of those who followed them, to foster the game of golf at Royal Park that so many enjoy,” Sutherland said. “It was a wonderful day of golf camaraderie with both old acquaintances being rekindled and new friendships made.

“This club is an example of the great value of public golf courses. It succeeds via the co-operation of its various stakeholders, the Melbourne City Council, Serco who maintain it, Greenspace and the YMCA who manage the clubhouse and bookings and the various clubs that use it.

“In line with our history, Royal Park Golf Club will continue to offer very attractive membership rates for all classes of golfers, making golf accessible for many, encouraging the growth of the sport.

“We are committed to broaden the range of people playing golf and keep their fees reasonable to ensure they don’t act as a barrier to membership. And we pride ourselves on fostering the social aspect of the game, welcoming visitors and new members,” he says proudly.

May it continue for another 120 delight-filled years.

– First published in Inside Golf magazine Issue 211 – May 2023 


Dinner – Monday 27 February 2023 at Yarra Yarra GC

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Dinner report – Monday 27 February – Yarra Yarra GC       The rise of non-traditional golf

Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland had a surprise in store when he spoke at a Golf Society dinner at Yarra Yarra Golf Club in February.

During his speech to 65 members and guests in the historic Eaglemont Room, Mr Sutherland rolled out some surprising facts about the rise of golf, but said it was happening in ways other than what most in the room were familiar with.

Participation in golf was rising, he said, in alternative formats such as driving ranges, minigolf, indoor screens golf, pitch-and-putt, and entertainment venues that offer food and drinks and music as players hit golf balls off mats and aim at novelty targets for fun.

Mr Sutherland said membership at traditional private golf clubs had risen about 12 per cent since 2018 – boosted partly by the Covid19 effect – but this came after 20 years of steadily declining membership numbers across Australia.

These alternative golf formats were welcome, he said, because they are a nursery for the game and help form bridges between all the different formats of golf.

He surprised many in the audience when he said that members at golf clubs in Australia made up only 14 per cent – or just one in seven – of all people who hit a golf ball in any year.

The audience included two GSA members honoured with Order of Australia awards on Australia day: Anne Court AM, and Jean Gilbert OAM. Mr Sutherland’s dinner speech came as he is two years into his role as head of Golf Australia. He re-affirmed that GA sees its role as “encouraging more Australians to play more golf” and the national body has a strong emphasis on children, families and women increasing their participation in the game.

Mr Sutherland was joined by two other speakers, Barbara Kelly, the general manager of Chirnside Park Country Club, and Anthony Lawrence, CEO of Clublinks.

Barbara Kelly was recently inducted into the Victorian Golf Industry Hall of Fame. She has had 30 years at Chirnside Park and told the audience about the club’s transition of re-zoning their declining golf course at Chirnside Park to sell the land for housing and buying a phased-out quarry at Lilydale to create Gardiners Run 18-hole golf course. The club retained the clubhouse at Chirnside Park and converted it into a community hub with restaurant, bars, function centre and gaming, surrounded by enough land for community sports such as lawn bowls, tennis and a newly opened minigolf centre.

And it’s a winner. Membership is up, staff have increased, turnover is $10million per year and the club banks a $1million annual surplus.

Anthony Lawrence described how Clublinks is a company that manages eight golf clubs plus sports centres and gymnasiums across Australia. He said non-traditional golf was a fast-growing part of their business, and the three-tier driving range at Moore Park golf course in central Sydney was a thriving business.

One of the latest success stories, he said, was ‘Bubbles and Buckets’ at Moore Park, where players paid $99 for two glasses of champagne and snacks while they hit buckets of golf balls at the range. He said it was popular with groups of up to 40 women who socialise and network while they play, and every session was booked out.

John Trevorrow 

Click on the links below to listen two recordings from the dinner.

Dinner speakers- James Sutherland, Barbara Kelly and Anthony Lawrence with President Kim Hastie Lower one Jean Gilbert OAM

Dr Michael Sheret presentation – Sunday 5 February at the Australian Golf Centre 9.30 am

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Golf Society of Australia accepted the kind offer of Dr Michael Sheret to present a talk

1839: The First Evidence of Golf in Australia

Despite several myths to the contrary, golf was first played in Australia on Saturday 25th May 1839. It was played at Grose Farm, a part of Sydney now occupied by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the University of Sydney and Victoria Park. The evidence for this event is in the diaries of Alexander Brodie Spark. They are held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Spark was a wealthy entrepreneur and respected member of colonial society. As a reliable witness to events in Sydney in the early 19th century, his diaries are an important historical document. The information on golf contained in the diaries first came to the attention of golf historians in a magazine article published in November 1992. Unfortunately, the author did not reference his sources. It was not until 2014 that it was realised that he had used a book about the diaries and had not gone to the primary source. Consequently, some conclusions were in error and three important questions were left unanswered. What triggered the start of golf at Grose Farm? Why did that phase of golf have such a short life? What was the connection to Royal Blackheath Golf Club in London?

The research attempted to answer these questions using primary sources. Spark’s Sydney and London diaries; Spark’s correspondence; archived minutes and betting books at Royal Blackheath; Derbyshire UK archives; UK Shipping records; UK census records; the wills of Captain & Mrs Ferrier; Trove & British newspapers.

To view Michael’s slides – Click on the link below.

To view Michael’s presentation with the audio – Click on the video below.

Below are some images from Michael’s presentation at the Australian Golf Centre

After the presentation several attendees played hickory golf the Sandy Golf Links course.

Hover or click on image to enlarge