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    South Australia - Sport


    The Coming of Golf to South Australia

    (Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning, The Grange Golf Club, pp. 14 - 21, 59 and 343 - 344)

    While recorded history insists that the "real" starting venue for golf in Australia was Sydney, a nostalgic article in the Advertiser in January 1935 began with the statement that "Very few people today are aware that Adelaide had one of the first - if not the first - golf courses in Australia." Yet it is a fact, although all traces of the old tees, greens and bunkers have vanished. Readers are left to make up their own mind as to whether South Australia may lay claim to that honour of having the first golf club of any substance or longevity. It is of interest to note that The Guinness Book of Golf Facts says: "1870: The formation of the (Royal) Adelaide Golf Club, the first in Australia."

    In 1869, two devotees of the game from the "gentry" of the colony, the Governor, Sir James Fergusson and the Hon. David Murray, a member of the Legislative Council, decided to introduce the game to South Australia. With the assistance of a fellow expatriate Scotsman, a course was laid out in the vicinity of the modern-day Victoria Park Racecourse. David Murray was elected captain, John Gordon, secretary/treasurer and James Hall, John Lindsay and J.T. Turnbull, committeemen.

    On Saturday, 15 May 1870, it was ready for play. It comprised of seven small greens some twenty feet square, fairways fifty yards wide with the length of the longest hole being about 120 yards.. A "round" of golf was declared to be "twice round" the course. Clubs and "feathery" balls were imported from Scotland by Cunningham's Emporium in Rundle Street. A set of clubs consisted generally of four woods - long, middle, short and "baffy", with three irons - driving, cleek and bunker, together with an obligatory putter - this word probably derives from the Dutch putten, meaning "to place in a hole".

    On opening day twenty foundation members "of status and wealth", all of whom sported traditional red coats, joined a varied assortment of Adelaide citizenry who had turned up "to see the fun". In those long-gone days anything out of the ordinary, which was participated in by so-called "Swells", was considered amusing by thr lower strata of society.

    "The first games were played in the presence of a highly amused gallery. If a player missed the ball the crowd roared. If he hit it, they laughed just the same - on principle it seemed. But the crowd soon tired of the novelty and the golfers were left in peace as far as the gallery went." A further hazard was the presence of young boys who, despite the engagement of fore-caddies by the players, stole many of the expensive "feathery" balls...

    A greater handicap was the presence of cows; in those days the parklands were an unfenced commonage and many families in the city owned a cow which was turned loose on them. It is left to the reader's imagination as to some of the natural hazards confronted by the intrepid golfers. The mind boggles regarding the pitfalls of a "lift and clean" local rule!

    After the governor left the colony interest waned; the harsh Australian summers cracked the glue in the expensive clubs with their beechwood heads and ash shafts, while breakages and other damage were most annoying as the clubs had to be sent back to Scotland for either repairs or replacement.

    By 1875 the club had disbanded only to be re-established on 8 October 1892 when play commenced on a course established on the north parklands bounded by Robe, Kingston and LeFevre Terraces. Several former members of the original club attended the inaugural meeting of the new body and a visitor has left us with a comment on its rough and ready character:

    Progressively, the game ceased to be one to be played only by the wealthy and in 1895 an Adelaide newspaper ventured the following opinion:

    When one considers the definition of the word "foozling", that is: "To fool away one's time";"to bungle" and derived from the German word fuseln - "to work badly" - one can only conclude that in his perceptive prose the author has captured admirably and in full measure, the irresistible lure of golf.

    It is apparent that the Adelaide Golf Club amalgamated with the Glenelg Golf Club in 1896, the latter having been formed in 1894 on land roughly to the south-east of of the present-day Glenelg course which opened in May 1927. This is evidenced by a report which mentions the Adelaide club playing on Mr Sandison's paddock "to the north of the Bay Road","on a pretty course situated on the banks of the River Sturt."

    Henry L. Rymill... has left us with his memories of the old course at Glenelg at the turn of the 19th century:

    The press of 1906 was of the opinion that golf was being held back from further progress by the lack of a first-class course to nurture the State's more talented players. This was soon to be remedied when "the Adelaide Golf Club... erected a commodious club house, with a resident caretaker" at Seaton. This event took place in June of that year and the formal opening ceremony was conducted by the governor. It was a gala occasion with a special train bringing numerous guests to a station near the club house.

    Adelaide hosted the State and Country Championships in August 1914 and this was to be the last of such events for several years. The South Australian Golf Association, formed in August 1904, ceased operations in April 1915 and did not reconvene until July 1920. A restrictive programme of golf was introduced in March 1916 and the game went into partial recess for the duration of hostiltities. Activities resumed on 31 March 1922 when 15 clubs eagerly commenced competition events.

    Reflecting upon the growth of the game a reporter added some satirical comment on its intrusion into local society:

    A frenzy for golf was evident within the community by the close of 1926 and a discerning Editor of a local newspaper opined that:

    By mid-1935 golf had risen a great deal in public estimation. Gone were the days when it was referred to as "the pursuit of pale pills by purple people" and when the attire of golfers was a target for the ribald:

    As we draw to the close of this history it may, perhaps be fitting to ponder over an extract from an article published in 1897 and written by a philosophical golfer and directed to the "average player" under the title "The Regal Game of Golf." Its content must, assuredly, summon up to golfers, past and present, some glorious memories of days spent on the links and of others replete with utter despair and desperation:

    General Notes

    "Early Golfers in SA Faced Many Troubles" is in The Mail,
    4 May 1935, page 2.

    "How Cows Ruined Adelaide's First Golf Course" is in the Advertiser,
    19 January 1935, page 27c.

    A report of golf being played on the Adelaide Racecourse is in the Register,
    17 May 1870, page 5c; also see
    23 May 1870, page 3f.

    The first competition of the Adelaide Golf Club on the north-east Park Lands is reported in the Chronicle,
    15 October 1892, page 15d; also see
    17 February 1894, page 15f.

    "Inter-colonial Golf - Matches at North Adelaide and Glenelg" is in the Register,
    16 August 1895, page 6f,
    Observer, 17 August 1895, page 20d. This report also mentions a private golf course in Adelaide:

    Adelaide Golf Club competitions on the Glenelg course are reported in the Observer,
    25 April 1896, page 20a,
    23 May 1896, page 19a,
    5 September 1896, page 19e,
    17 April 1897, page 20c,
    3 July 1897, page 12d,
    9 October 1897, page 20d,
    20 November 1897, page 18e,
    7 May 1898, page 18d,
    29 April 1899, page 20c,
    6 and 27 May 1899, pages 20b and 22a,
    12 August 1899, page 54c,
    2 September 1899, page 14c,
    14 October 1899, page 19c,
    17 November 1900, page 21c,
    21 September 1901, page 20b,
    20 September 1902, page 17a,
    7 November 1903, page 20d,
    15 May 1909, page 24c,
    26 June 1909, page 24e,
    Register, 21 April 1899, page 5b.

    An Adelaide Golf Club outing on Mr Sanderson's paddock "to the north of the Bay Road" is described in the Register,
    5 October 1897, page 7c:

    "The Regal Game of Golf" is in the Observer,
    29 May 1897, page 23b; also see
    7 June 1898, page 4e and Observer, 11 June 1898, page 21 for information on an 18-hole course.

    The game is the subject of an editorial in the Advertiser,
    27 July 1895, page 4g,
    24 October 1896, page 4g:

    A complaint from parents that their children were playing truant to act as caddies at Glenelg is in the Observer,
    29 October 1898, page 27b.

    The "old practice course on the North Adelaide Park Lands" is reported upon in the Observer,
    29 April 1899, page 20c.

    Photographs of golf at Glenelg are in the Chronicle,
    27 June 1903, page 44,
    4 July 1903, page 44; also see
    3 August 1907, page 31.

    The "old practice course on the North Adelaide Park Lands" is reported upon in the Observer,
    29 April 1899, page 20c.

    The fifth golf championship tournament is reported in the Observer,
    27 June 1903, pages 18c-23 (photographs),
    4 July 1903, pages 18d-24 (photographs);
    also see reports in the Register commencing on 20 June 1903, page 6h.

    "Golf and Lacrosse" is in the Register,
    27 June 1903, page 4e; also see
    12 December 1908, page 8f:

    "Golf and Language" is in the Register,
    28 June 1903, page 4e.

    The formation of the SA Golf Asociation is discussed in the Chronicle,
    27 August 1904, page 22d.

    A satirical essay on the game under the title "Concerning Golf" is in the Observer,
    26 August 1905, page 32d.

    The SA championship is reported upon in the Observer,
    30 September 1905, page 21d;
    a photograph of the winner, T.S. Cheadle, appears on 14 October 1905, page 28.

    A competition between the newly-formed Magill and Beaumont clubs is reported in the Observer,
    7 October 1905, page 22a.

    "The Game of Golf" in Adelaide is discussed in the Advertiser,
    2 July 1906, page 4e; also see Express,
    4 May 1907, page 3d,
    "The Game of Golf" in the Register on
    20 August 1910, page 12c.

    The opening of the Seaton links is reported in the Chronicle,
    7 July 1906, page 50a,
    "Seaton versus School - Education Department Takes a Hand" is in The Mail,
    11 August 1923, page 2e.
    Also see Alberton.

    "Amateur Golf Tournament at Glenelg" is in the Register,
    27, 28 and 30 July 1906, pages 7e, 10d and 3g.
    Information on and photographs of amateur golf at Glenelg are in the Observer,
    4 August 1906, pages 23d-28.

    Golf at Glenelg and Seaton is reported upon in the Observer,
    30 March 1907, page 23b,
    8 June 1907, page 25d,
    27 July 1907, page 24d.

    "Golf Notes" is in the Observer,
    6 and 13 April 1907, pages 22d and 22e,
    4 May 1907, page 22e.

    Notes on the development of the course at Seaton are in the Observer,
    16 November 1907, page 20c.

    "An Evil Arising from Golf" is in the Advertiser,
    19 September 1908, page 8h.

    Photographs of golf at Seaton are in the Chronicle,
    21 August 1909, page 30.

    "About Golf - The Humanity of the Game" is in the Register,
    24 August 1909, page 6e.

    An annual general meeting of the Glenelg Golf Club is reported in the Observer,
    26 March 1910, page 17d,
    25 March 1911, page 24b,
    13 April 1912, page 25a,
    27 March 1915, page 25b;
    also see 3 May 1913, page 20e,
    21 June 1913, page 29 (photos),
    28 June 1913, page 18a,
    13 June 1914, page 28e,
    20 June 1914, pages 27e-supp. (photos),
    18 July 1914, supp. (photos),
    7 August 1915, page 23c.

    "The Game of Golf" is in the Register,
    20 August 1910, page 12c.

    "A Great Day at Glenelg" is in the Observer,
    13 August 1910, page 17a.

    A report of a "caddy strike" at the North Adelaide links is in the Register,
    14 February 1911, page 6f.

    "Is Golf Too Easy - Some Adelaide Opinions" is in The Mail,
    3 January 1914, page 19b.

    "Golf and the War" is in the Observer,
    8 May 1915, page 25a.
    The first post-war golf played at Seaton is reported in the Observer,
    20 September 1919, page 15d.

    "J.H. Kirkwood's Visit" is in The Mail,
    3 July 1920, page 5d.

    A proposed municipal golf links is discussed in the Register,
    5 October 1920, page 4h,
    30 August 1921, page 5a,
    3 September 1921, page 8f,
    10 May 1922, page 6f,
    16, 19 and 30 June 1922, pages 4h, 9c and 11a,
    18 July 1922, page 4e,
    10 August 1922, page 6f,
    1 September 1922, page 11e.
    A photograph is in the Observer,
    26 November 1921, page 24,
    18 August 1923, page 28.

    "Golf on the Parklands" is in the Register,
    26, 29 and 30 July 1921, pages 7g,
    9g and 3d, 30 September 1921, page 5f,
    30 June 1922, page 11a.

    "Golf for Adelaide - Municipal Links" is in The News,
    8 September 1923, page 8f; also see
    The News,
    2 January 1926, page 4d,
    24 September 1926, page 14d,
    7 and 8 October 1926, pages 13f and 12e.
    Photographs are in the Chronicle,
    6 August 1927, page 38; also see
    9 June 1928, page 59,
    20 June 1929, page 36.

    A new golf course at Kooyonga is discussed in the Register,
    3 June 1922, page 13h,
    17 July 1922, page 9e,
    30 June 1924, page 5f (opening).
    Photographs are in the Observer,
    5 July 1924, page 31.

    "Sunday Golf" is debated in the open columns of the Advertiser:

    "Golf on Sunday - Protest by Churches" is in the Advertiser,
    13 January 1928, page 16c,
    7 June 1928, page 18b.
    Also see South Australia - Religion - Breaking the Sabbath

    "How to Play Golf - Hints From a Champion" is in the Advertiser,
    16 and 21 February 1923, pages 9b and 11c.

    "Cattle and Golf" is in the Advertiser,
    26 March 1929, page 15b; also see
    25 June 1929, page 15a.

    An editorial on the game is in the Advertiser,
    16 June 1923, page 12h.

    "The Coming of Golf" is in the Register,
    13 August 1923, page 8d,
    "Snakes and Golf" on
    31 December 1925, page 6i,
    "Golf" on
    24 July 1926, page 8g; also see
    29 July 1926, page 6e.

    "Roof Golf" is in The News,
    24 December 1925, page 9b.

    "Women and Golf - Its Effect Upon Character" is in the Advertiser,
    20 April 1926, page 15d,
    "Women on the Links" in the Register,
    18 October 1926, page 8e,
    "Golf for Women" in The News,
    9 June 1927, page 9c,
    6 May 1930, page 4d.

    "More Metropolitan Links" is in The Mail,
    16 January 1926, page 2e,
    "Rise of Golf" on
    10 July 1926, page 14a,
    "Golf for the Multitude" on
    13 August 1927, page 1a.

    Information on the Marino Golf Links is in The News,
    6 May 1926, page 7a.
    Also see Place Names - Marino.

    "Glenelg Golf Course Opened" is in the Advertiser,
    23 May 1927, page 14.

    The inauguration of a "Country Golf Championship" at Kooyonga is reported in the Register,
    14 July 1927, page 11c.

    A photograph of SA professional golfers is in the Register,
    18 November 1927, page 7,
    26 July 1928, page 12,
    10 August 1928, page 10.

    Humorous descriptions of the game is in The News,
    27 September 1928, page 12d.

    "Mysteries of Golf - Bad Language Never Premeditated" is in The Mail,
    23 March 1929, page 24.

    "Water for Grange Links" is in The News,
    30 March 1928, page 11c together with information on the Torrensford Links and the Reade Park Putting Club.

    A photograph of SA professional golfers is in the Register,
    18 November 1927, page 7, 26 July 1928, page 12, 10 August 1928, page 10.

    "Golf Controversy - Lighter Ball Question" is in The Mail,
    7 July 1928, page 16a.

    "How Caddies Help", together with a photograph of same at Seaton, is in The Mail,
    28 July 1928, page 1f.

    "Cows Banned from North Adelaide Links" is in the Observer,
    3 August 1929, page 35d,
    "Golf for the Masses" on
    10 August 1929, page 18a.

    "The Uncertainty of Golf" is in the Register,
    16 August 1929, page 6c.

    "75 Caddies Down Clubs" is in The News,
    18 April 1931, page 1c.

    "Golf in Mamma's Days" is in the Advertiser,
    20 June 1931, page 5d.

    "SA Takes to Golf" is in The News,
    9 June 1932, page 8e.

    The golfing reminiscences of H.L. Rymill are in the Advertiser,
    18 May 1933, page 16g.

    An article on the game is in The Mail,
    1 April 1933, page 13.
    Photographs are in the Chronicle,
    20 September 1934, page 33.

    A photograph of Peter Toogood with his father's trophies is in the Chronicle,
    2 August 1934, page 38.

    "Holing in One Should be Rewarded Not Penalised" is in The News,
    25 September 1934, page 3g.

    A humorous editorial on the game is in the Advertiser,
    19 January 1935, page 20e.

    Information on a proposed golf course at Belair is in The News,
    2 May 1935, page 6f.

    "Has Our Modern Equipment Made Golf Easier" is in The News,
    30 July 1936, page 10f.

    "Censor of Golfing Clothes May Cause Tears" is in The News,
    4 August 1936, page 4f.

    Information on the Australian Ladies Golf Union is in The Mail,
    1 August 1936, page 10d.

    "Golf in National Park" is in the Advertiser
    11 and 13 August 1937, pages 24d and 16d.

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