WHYALLA GOLF CLUB 1933-Present
Golf was introduced to Whyalla in 1933 when Peter Robinson opened a privately owned nine-hole course named “Clutha Golf Links”. At the time the population was about 1200. The course was located between what is now Kittel St and the cemetery, along Broadbent Tce to the Mornington Flats area.
After the Robinsons left Whyalla, a local golfer Syd Chandler, initiated the design of the new nine- hole course in its current location off the Pt Augusta road in 1939. Work on the course began almost immediately covering approximately 70 acres. The land was granted by BHP on a 99 year perpetual lease with no fees.
Members cleared the scrub using a 40ft rail dragged behind a tractor. The course was reputedly rough with a lot of salt bush and a few Myall trees. The original first fairway is now the eight, the seventeenth is now the fifth and the eighteenth now the sixth and part of the seventh. The club was opened in 1940 and the clubhouse was a single roomed building made of wood and iron situated on what is now the eighth tee.
Economic conditions in the early days were very harsh with War time restrictions in place. Members brought in everything from fire wood to service the wood heater and stove, to holding functions. Eventually this clubhouse was destroyed by white ants, and in 1945 an ex-BHP iron hut became a temporary clubhouse.
At this stage there were approximately 50 members and with the introduction of Associates golf in 1947, about 20 women boosted club membership. Annual fees were about five pounds and the entry fee for summer golf was two shillings. The winner of the day’s play received half of the proceeds taken on the day.
In the early 1950s BHP gave the club a 12 ton steel hospital house from one of its Iron Ore Carriers, which was used as a buggy and implement shed. However, it was in 1961 that the club went from “white ants and wine to champagne and caviar”.
The course underwent improvements and was extended to an eighteen-hole course. A new clubhouse, on the current site, was established resulting in more members. A liquor license was granted and the club became a popular place for social functions.
The course layout was subsequently altered and the sequence of the holes changed.
Once the layout was designed, grassing of the course was the next step. The eighteen tees and approaches were grassed first with Buffalo and Couch grasses. The eleventh tee proved to be a problem as it was situated on a very stony patch of ground, and any grass refused to grow. A CSIRO expert was consulted and upon his advice Kikuyu was planted.
A groundsman was employed by the club in this year along with a Club Manager. Until this time all work had been carried out by volunteers.
In 1969 all the scrapes were finished and the course again was slightly altered.
In 1970 the grassing of the fairways began. This work took 8-10 years along with tree planting.
During the 1980 to early 1990s the lack of water impacted on the previous fairway plantings and they slowly deteriorated. In the early 1990s a decision was made to grass the greens as members agreed this was where the real enjoyment came from. The fairways were left in the hope that good seasonal rains might generate reasonable growth.
The course stayed that way for a number of years, however most of the fairways were nothing more than dirt and membership and interest in Golf waned.
In early 2004 it was announced by the SA Government that a recycling water plant would be built at Whyalla and that the Golf Club would have access to enough recycled water to enable the course to be fully developed with grass greens and fairways. The Bowls club would also have access to the water.
On Christmas Eve 2004 the Golf Club was advised that it had been successful in securing a Federal Government Grant to enable all equipment required to be procured. Volunteers then spent the next 18 months laying irrigation pipes, seeding fairways, erecting sheds and many other activities to develop the course.
In November 2005 the “new” Golf Course was officially opened on a typical Whyalla 45 degree day and an official dinner was held with many dignitaries, local members, and many past members from all over Australia present.
None of this would have been possible without the tremendous help and support of volunteers, and what we have today, is a tribute to all members who have toiled over many years in the hope that one day this would be possible. This applies equally to the Bowls Club as well as the Golf Club.
We now have a great asset for the City of Whyalla and we welcome any visitors to come and test their skills on this challenging fully grassed course.