The game of Golf in Inverell had its early origins at the start of the 20th Century. Six holes were located on what is now Lion’s Park, along the banks of the Macintyre River.
In May 1907, the Inverell Golf Club was founded, with election of the first office bearers. A shed was erected to serve as a Clubhouse, and was originally located close to the present entry gates of Lion’s Park. The shed was subsequently removed to ‘Ryan’s Paddock’, the current location of the Golf Course. The actual shed is still in use, and forms part of the Greenkeeper’s workshop.
The Golf Club does not appear to have fared well during and after The Great War.
The reforming of the Golf Club was initiated in July 1925, when it was resolved to investigate suitable location for a Golf Course. Sites that were inspected included Sheep Station Gully, Gooniwigal as well as land adjacent to the Showground which is now the site of the Sporting Complex. A subcommittee recommended the ‘Ryan’s Paddock’ site.
The new site was leased for an amount of 20 pounds per annum, and this arrangement remained until the Club purchased the land for 1000 pounds in 1950. These lands are the current Bottom Nine.
The official opening of the new Course took place on 29th August 1925. Records indicate that the Club had a membership of 90 at that time. The original site was already generally clear of excess trees and roughage, and Members soon proceeded to clean excess grass, add sand to the Greens, formed bunkers and Tees, and from there the game progressed.
In 1927 the Club made application to the Lands Department for permission to lease part of the current Top Nine, totaling 95 acres. It was soon decided that the leased lands were not sufficient for a full nine holes, and negotiations were entered with the Pastures Protection Board and Bannockburn Shire for the acquisition of a further 21 acres, being the current 7th, 8th, 9th holes, as well as the present Clubhouse site. This acquisition, for 80 pounds, was subject to a Contract of Sale dated 13/12/28 and a Transfer of Land dated 11/6/36. During this time, Members and Contractors went about clearing the land, which was heavily timbered and contained huge stone masses.
In 1936 the Club spent 260 pounds on alterations and additions to the basic Clubhouse. In 1950, mainly through voluntary labour of the Members, further additions were made, resulting in the first stage of the current Clubhouse. A bar was built, and the Club was able to trade on Special Days, until the granting of a permanent license in 1960. The Committee in 1966 initiated the first stage of further drastic alterations, which culminated in the 1980 development of current facilities.
One of the most questionable moments of the Club’s history was the development of the ‘third nine’, circa 1930. This is the lands to the West of the current bottom nine. At a capital cost of 4037 pounds, the third nine was in play for one week, proving too rocky for sustainable use.
Between 1962 and 1966, the Club went about developing grass Greens. This necessitated the installation of a water scheme, still operational today, to get much needed water to all Greens.
It should be noted that much of the early development of the Golf Course was done on a voluntary basis, and was obviously a massive undertaking. The traditions of voluntary working bees continue to the present, and provide great opportunities for fellowship that are essential in any sporting club.
During the 1970’s, further development saw the building of the new Clubhouse. Following it’s completion , the Golf Club hosted many memorable nights, particularly bringing in the New Year! The introduction of Random Breath Testing in the ‘80s put a bit of a hold on festivities, and the Club continues to mourn ‘the good old days’ of lively bar trade.
The Club has received the services of many fine Golf Professionals over the years, and we have fostered the development of our own. Maurie Moses and his twin Warren Moses, Sean Bath and his twin Mark Bath, Craig Baldwin, Jono Holder and Brett Drewitt have all come up through the junior ranks of Inverell Golf Club, and all are currently making their mark on the golfing world. It would be remiss of us to exclude the services of Malcolm Williams. Mal did all his schooling in Inverell, before moving into the Professional ranks via a traineeship at Tamworth Golf Club. After subsequent stints at Cromer Golf Club and Cessnock Golf Club, Mal returned home to take up the position of Golf Pro at Inverell, where he served from 1985 to 1996.
No history of the Inverell Golf Club would be complete without mentioning two of our finest Club Champions. Liz Hobday has 17 Championships to her name, while Club stalwart John Coote has amassed 16. Both are still going strong, so it will be interesting to see how far their records can extend.
With the inevitable passage of time, all things must change, and the Club is no different. Currently operating without a Golf Professional, with Members booking tee times online, with score cards being scanned into an automated competition management system….makes you wonder what the founders would think of it all.
As we move forward, some of the issues facing the Golf Club are those that have been around for most of our rich history. Playing numbers, water and function bookings. Having identified these issues, it should be noted that the Club is well placed to tackle the future, come what may.
Inverell Golf Club circa 1950s