For the past 100 years, Rockhampton golfers have been enjoying the picturesque and challenging course located adjacent to the city’s beautiful Botanic Gardens.
In celebrating our centenary we invite you to learn more about our amazing history, which includes a visit to our course from legends Joe Kirkwood and Walter Hagen, and join in our year-long celebrations.
Golf in Rockhampton commenced in 1902, with a nine-hole course featuring natural grass greens, laid out on the Harbour Board Reserve along the northern bank of the Fitzroy River (just below the current cricket ground).
A team of pioneering spirits created the fledgling club led by the likes of Mr Justice Power (the first club president), Messrs E.V. Reid, T. Huggins, H. Fahey, R. Miller (the first club secretary), M.K. Tilbury, D. McLaughlin jnr, K.M. Grant, R.J. Brown, and E.H. Douglas.
In 1905, P.C. Marwedel became secretary and in that year a small but suitable clubhouse was erected on the river back, just below the cricket ground gates.
Although the club membership was never numerically strong, it continued to flourish until 1909, when its lands were acquired by the Jockey Club. Part of the old course remained and for some years golf was intermittently played in the area as local enthusiasts endeavoured to keep the game alive in the region.
Unfortunately many of the leading golfers left the district and gradually golf, under club control, ceased to exist.
Despite this, southern enthusiasts who visited the area were occasionally seen practising their shots in paddocks near to town, prompting former club secretary P.C. Marwedel, along with Dr D.E.A. Buchanan, and Mr D.M. Morgan, to call a meeting for the purpose of reviving golf in Rockhampton.
Life at Kalka Shades
Mr J.R. Gair, the first secretary of the first golf club in Queensland (the Brisbane Golf Club), presided over the meeting and the large attendance augured well for the success of the proposal.
The year was 1920 and arrangements were made to lease a property known as Kalka Shades. Picturesquely situated at the foot of the Berserker Range, Kalka Shades had been recently acquired by the City Council for public use. However, it was only possible to have six holes on the area available and three had to be made on contiguous allotments, which were only ever available from year to year.
In spite of the sites many advantages – fine grass, beautiful shade trees, a running creek, pleasantly diversified and interesting surface conditions – the land at Kalka was abandoned after about 18 months due to its insufficient size, along with the precariousness of the tenure and the growth of the club.
The move to West Rockhampton
The size of the membership warranted the club’s purchase of its own land for a permanent home.
Dr Buchanan, Messrs J. Hill, H.A. Kellow, W. Cook, and H.J. Stark advocated the acquisition of a dairy farm of 103.5 acres (approximately 40 hectares) at the club’s current location in West Rockhampton, bordering the Botanic Gardens and the Murray Lagoon.
It was a bold move and the members of the committee had some trying times in the initial stages.
The new course – the third in Rockhampton – was played for the first time on 10 September 1921, when the Mayor of Rockhampton, Alderman W. Charlton, performed the opening ceremony.
A nine-hole course was laid out on part of the land under a leasing arrangement, and a club house erected and a professional appointed (A. Halliday). Golf in Rockhampton quickly flourished thereafter.
In 1924 the club exercised its option to purchase the land and entered into possession of the whole area, on which a new 18-hole course was established.
The Rockhampton Golf Club was now playing on links second-to-none outside of metropolitan areas.
The century ahead - have your say
Rockhampton Golf Club is celebrating 100 years as a club, surviving all of the ups and downs of the economic cycle, climatic disasters and social change.
It’s now time for the RGC Committee and its 700+ members to turn their minds to the future to develop the ideas that will see RGC not just survive but thrive in the years to come.
The challenge of planning for the future comes against a background of long-term slow decline in national golf participation rates, with 5% fewer people playing golf Australia-wide compared to five years ago – that equates to more than 50,000 people with small, regional clubs the hardest hit.
The RGC committee has implemented a number of strategies in recent years to protect the club from this trend, with membership now at its highest point since the mining boom of 2013 and an additional 80+ new members joining this year alone.
However, a longer term thinking is also required to protect the club against the larger demographic changes underway in Australia – an ageing population, time-poor families, competition from other sports.
Its with this in mind, we are looking for your feedback, plus some big ideas, to commence our planning for the century to come.