The First Courses

 

Sometime prior to 1926 a Mr. Chamberlain had built a private golf course in an area around the Kalimna Hotel for the use of his guests, and to play was considered a great honour at the time. In 1926 as interest and the numbers of players increased, it was decided to form a Club. Some of the early members were Ray Symmons (First President), J.R Coate (Snr), J. R Coate(jnr), Violet Coate, Belle Coate, Molly Vize, Edna Vize, Charlie Vize, Molly Beveridge, Nell Beveridge, Ida Carstairs, 'Mac' Harbeck, Rex Harbeck, Hazel Staughton, Doc Icke Hewins, Dorrie Daniel, Mrs. Robinson, Jack Palmer, Bob Bulmer and Glen Roberts.The members were allotted greens to look after and Bob Bulmer's was always the best kept. A Tatts ticket was purchased each week, each member putting in a three pence, at first we took thermos flasks for afternoon tea then Mr. Harry Rowe whose property adjoined offered the use of his cow shed which was greatly appreciated and used. A natural hazard was at the 9th hole, if one was late finishing a round, the cows would be coming up to be milked and many a cow received a direct hit with a golf ball and of course no afternoon tea as the cows now occupied the "Clubhouse"

 

The area, although extremely rough and undulating produced a lot of golfing fun but by 1932 was not adequate for the number of local people interested and wanting to play. Harry Rowe offered his property at Kalimna West, but after much debate it was decided to lease a parcel of land at another site which was locally know as the "Oil Bore Grounds" or "Molloys Paddock", the Lakes Entrance Secondary College is now located there.

 

It took enthusiasm, determination and many hours of voluntary labour to establish something that in any way resembled a golf course, but was achieved by 1933. The area was rough and very hilly, the gullies steep and the creek notorious for snakes. Blackberries and ti-tree were exasperating hazards, the greens were very small and of course sand scrapes made with oil soaked sand and soil.

 

The first green keeper was Mr. N Tanner and his wages were two pounds per week, his only equipment was a lawn mower and an assortment of spades and rakes. It was only after the purchase of a tractor that a shed was built, this became the Clubhouse when it was not housing the tractor and on special occasions and during tournament time a tarpaulin was rigged on the side of the shed. This was the refreshment area.

 

It was impossible to obtain a liquor license in those days so the local hotels took it in turns to apply for a temporary license to allow refreshments to be served. Conditions were very primitive with soup being cooked in kerosene tins over open fires but there was always an abundance of good cooking and cooks. Lakes had a great reputation for their food and hospitality, Club spirit was excellent, there was a goal and everyone worked for it enthusiastically.

 

Because of World War II golf was suspended in 1941 and not resumed until 1947. Eventually a change of ownership of the land used by the golf club made it essential that a new site be obtained. The present site was developed until enough holes were ready to make the transfer possible in 1962.

 

THE NEW LINKS

 

It was about 1956 when the Austral Oil Company informed the Club that it wanted to terminate the lease of the Oil bore area as a golf course. This forced the club to look for another site. the area the Committee decided would be suitable was an area of crown land known as "Warm Holes". this area to the east of the township and bounded on the south side by the ninety mile beach, contained a series of lagoons, all connected by narrow channels feeding into Cunningham Arm. 

 

After a lot of negotiations and lobbying, this area of approximately 136 acres was secured in 1958; a lease of 21 years at 10 pound per year was readily agreed upon. Although in parts it was low lying and swampy, most of it was undulating sand ridges covered with coastal banksias, wattle and ti-tree. It was a truly beautiful and natural links land area for establishing an 18 hole golf links.

 

After the Club finally secured the site, the problem was how to raise enough money to start development of the first nine holes. It was decided to ask all members to take out a 10 pound debentures which raised enough money for the bare essentials, one of which was the payment to the Course architect by the name of Mr. Morcom to lay out the eighteen holes.  He did this by just walking the area driving pegs into the ground to mark the position of the trees and greens. The only thing he put on paper were the contour plans for the greens.

 

It was a great day when work started with members donating their time helping; the most significant contribution was by Jack Ramsdell who donated his bulldozer to clear fairways and roughly fashion the trees and greens. It was late 1961 when it was decided the green were good enough for play, the fairways were however a different story. they were originally sown with couch grass that did not strike, they were then rotary hoed and Kykuyu roots were planted by hand. It couldn't be watered, so when the nine holes were officially opened, the fairways were mostly sand with a tuft of 'kike' here and there. It was like playing on a ploughed paddock, we had to tee the ball for every shot. Nevertheless everybody enjoyed their golf and had a lot of fun.

 

The only building on the old course which had any material of value was the tractor shed, so Bill Bowler with in charge and lots of voluntary help, the shed was dismantled and re assembled and is still part of part of Clubrooms in use today.

 

In 1966 Roy Rawlings put a proposition to the Committee that his family's business would make use of their bulldozer to clear the fairways on the undeveloped south nine, so the Club paid the drivers wages and work began. there were no contour plans for this nine so the Club engaged the services of Mr. John Watson to draw up plans, he was an engineer and Golf Course designer from Melbourne.

 

The next problem was water supply and the Brunnings Seed and Fertilizer Co. agreed to give us plans and specifications of a watering system provided we bought all the equipment from them. The estimated cost was about $5000.00 plus another $2000.00 for seed etc. The Club needed approximately $12,000 and as we were on Crown land with no security bank loans were out. Debentures were discarded as the membership was small so we decided to form a co-operative. the Club only had to find 10% of the amount wanted to borrow as the government would guarantee the loan. It was decided to borrow $15,000.00 over 10 years and therefore the Club had to find $1500. This was raised by members and local business people buying shares to that value.

 

Trenches were dug with Rawling Bros bulldozer and voluntary labour, the greens were finished and sown. things were looking good but alas the volume of water that was now being pulled out of the water hole on the 15th green became so salty that all the new greens were lost and it was a struggle to hold the greens on the old north nine. There was no alternative but to look for another supply. this was the first major set back the Club encountered.

 

Jack White a local water boring contractor put in a 150' deep bore and a 10,000 litre concrete tank was also put in for storage to help maintain our existing nine holes but it was not adequate to sustain the 9 new greens and tees. Much to the disappointment of all the development of the south side lay in limbo for approximately 3 years. The old saying "It's an ill wind that doesn't do someone some good" was never more apt as when the Department of Crown Lands withdrew approval for the sewerage authority to use approximately 40 acres east of the Golf Course that had been set aside as a disposal area for treated waste water.

 

The Golf Club offered the Course as a substitute disposal area which was readily accepted. That was the turning point and salvation of the Lakes Entrance Golf Club.

 

A complete 18 - hole fairway tee and green automatic watering system was installed, the greens were resown and the transformation was magic, in less than 2 years. The Club went from a 3rd rate golf course into a course that equaled anything in the Gippsland District.

 

The South 9 holes was officially opened for play by the President of the V.G.A. Mr. C Evans on the 11th of June 1978.

 

In 1981 the Club commissioned Ted and Geoff Parslow to draw up a master plan which was accepted and approved by the members. Since then a number of improvements to the north 9 have been carried out and would not of been so advanced without the generosity of Peter Ramsdell and Ray Barling donating their bulldozers.

 

It was early December 1978 when the weather turned foul with the sea right along the Victorian south east coast pounding the shoreline. On the morning of the 13th of December the dune protecting the 7th was completely gone. The mammoth waves were pounding the shore tearing great chunks of sand matted with grass out of the edge of the fairway. The sea was racing across the fairway about 12 to 15 inches deep then on towards the 16th fairway and was about 2 feet deep as it raced past the 8th green.

 

The sea maintained this massive pounding for 2 to 3 days and approximately 20 to 25 yards of the fairway disappeared. The rain stopped, the wind and sea abated, the sun came out and here we were with a fairway about half the width of the original and covered with at least 1 1/2 feet of sand. you could stand in the middle of what was the fairway and cast a surf rod into the sea. This was the second major set back the Club faced.

 

The first thought was can it be fixed? If so, how? the first priority was to build some sort of barrier to prevent the waves from running across the fairway. All the relevant Government Departments were contacted who representatives. They all sympathised but could or would not come up with any ideas or monetary assistance. A suggestion was put to Peter Ramsdell, who was a logging contractor, to lay logs in a pyramid fashion along the beach and then cover them with sand to create an artificial dune. No sooner had the log barrier been completed when high tides and huge seas started running again. It was just as though mother Nature had hatched a plot saying to herself "we'll calm things down long enough for them to do their thing , then we'll sock it to 'em'.

 

The job was finally completed by placing hundreds of truck tyers lashed together on top of the artificial dune erecting sand trap fences and planting marram grass.

 

All of these was carried out by the men and ladies attending working bees. The Public Works Department gave some assistance towards the end and the Soil Conservation Authority gave $3000.00 for planting the marram grass.The number of people who gave assistance during the crisis are too numerous to mention; a magnificent job was done by all.

 

Excerpts taken from Lakes Entrance Golf Club Silver Jubilee book

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