Mackay Golf Club History
The Mackay Golf Club was founded in June 1925 with the initial nine-hole course being situated on the town common, which is now the Mackay Airport. Far from the manicured courses of today, the going was rugged for the early golfers. The nine sand greens had wire fences erected around them to keep the grazing cattle off. As well as livestock, players had to contend with rubbish dumps, wide open storm-water drains and un-mown deep rough.
The first clubhouse was built on the common for a cost of $452, and opened by the Mayor Mr George Milton in March 1926.
The club moved to its present site in 1928 after leasing 122 acres of grazing land from Mr George Shinn, sufficient land for a nine-hole golf course. The club house was moved from the common to its current site and in 1930, the club came of age when the first Club Professional, Horrie Sloan, was appointed. During these early years, a huge effort was put in by bands of volunteers plowing, harrowing and levelling the fairways and planting couch runners. From all reports, playing was also a real challenge, errant balls usually un-findable in the tiger rough, even if you were prepared to brave the snakes.
One of the earliest perpetual trophies to be played for was the A.I.F. Cup, presented by Mrs Dorothy Croker in 1932. For many years, this cup has become known as the “Diggers’ Cup” and is played for annually by ex-servicemen on “Diggers’ Day”. The winner can retain the cup for display at home until the following year’s event.
In 1933, a tree-planting committee was formed, and the extensive tree planting in those early days has resulted in the impressive tree-lined fairways that you see today, which place a premium on playing straight shots.
Just prior to the Second World War, a 43 acre area west of the course was purchased to allow the construction of another nine holes, but construction was put on hold until after the war. This land was leased to Mr George Farquhar for cane growing during the war. In 1947, the second nine holes were laid out on this land and the dream of an 18 hole course was finally realised. All the while, a steady band of workers kept up the momentum of clearing the heavy rough and improving the course to make play more enjoyable for experienced and novice golfers alike.
In 1949, professional Horrie Sloan resigned and Victorian Bren Alman was appointed in his place, to remain as our Professional until retirement in 1987. He was followed by Barry Vassella, then Darren Rodgers, and the current Professional, Jeffrey Reid who learnt his golf under Barry’s tutelage.
In 1950, South African golfer Bobby Locke, winner of four British Opens and at the time rated as the World’s best golfer, played an exhibition match with Bren Alman and members Albert Krause and Lex Hodges. Locke shot a 67 off the stick.
This exhibition match triggered the club’s hosting of the Queensland Close Championship in 1951, won by Pacific professional Ken Jones, and provided the impetus for the now annual Pro-Am tournament as part of the Queensland Professional Tour. Other great names in golf to visit the Club in these early days included Norman von Nida, Graham Marsh and David Graham.
Again in 1956, the club was chosen to host the Queensland Close Championship and the Central Queensland Amateur Championships for men and associates in a week-long golfing carnival. The 1956 Close was won by Ashgrove professional Jack Brown.
Although the clubhouse had undergone a number of renovations, it had remained substantially the same since the 1930s. In 1967, the present clubhouse was built to cater for the expanding membership which was expected to top 800 in the near future. The current Pro-shop was added in 1984.
In In 1985, the club celebrated its 60 year diamond jubilee with a Jubilee Ball and dinner, which was attended by a number of members from the early years of the club and also descendants of founding members. In the same year, the club adopted a new landmark constitution which recognised women as full members of the club, able to vote and hold committee positions.
Since those early days, many of the blue couch fairways have been re-planted with Greenleas Park, and the blue couch greens have all been rebuilt and planted with Bermuda 328.
To provide water for irrigation, two dams were built, the first in 1981 and the lower dam in 1999 in conjunction with the new irrigation system and pump-house. Over the next 10 years, underground irrigation sprinklers were installed along all fairways, so that all greens, tees and fairways are now automatically watered as needed.