In 1950 Burleigh Heads was a quiet seaside town boasting only a Bowls Club and two Tennis Courts. Thanks to the foresightedness of Kevin Snee who was running the Hotel Burleigh on The Esplanade, the thoughts were planted to start a golf club. Along with two keen golfing enthusiasts namely Dr Tony (Paddy) Golden and Duncan McCrae, they met to arrange a round of golf at either Southport or Tweed Heads. Instead, because they believed that Burleigh Heads, at the midpoint, was the ideal place for a golf course, so they inspected a couple of possibilities. It was decided to call the first official general meeting on 7th November 1950.
The residents of Burleigh Heads were soon invited to a public meeting at Hotel Burleigh on 7th November 1950. They were to learn of the proposal to establish a golf club and construct a course. About 100 acres of Miami bush land was to be purchased at a cost of 'ten pounds' ($20) per acre. Finance for the venture was to be raised from the sale of Registered Debentures and Memberships. That meeting approved, then proceeded to form the Burleigh Heads Golf Club and to appoint its inaugural committee.
Encouraged with the generous support of the townspeople, the committee arranged socials, working bees and bonfires, as they acquired fresh skills with axe, shovel, public relations, dynamite, course layout and tight fiscal management.
In the spring of 1955, the first official game over a 5 hole circuit was played on our course complete with a club house. Thereafter membership became an attractive option for the golfers watching.
An assorted group of dedicated hackers, with their wives and families had transformed the bushland to set up and begin this region's finest golf course. For the majority, their next task was to learn how to use their "first set of golfsticks".
First 9 holes in play November 1956. Second 9 holes designed by a foundation member Bill Patterson was in play October 1960. Club's name changed 1970 to Gold Coast Burleigh Golf Club.
Three venues were inspected for the proposed course. Firstly land east of 26th Avenue, Palm Beach towards the highway was checked although the land was flat it was found unsuitable. On the second inspection land @ Tom Petitt's farm, opposite Marymount College, had not enough acreage. New land 4 kilometers west of Burleigh (where Burleigh Town Shopping Village is now situated) was far to swampy. It was then decided to purchase110 acres (the present site) from Messrs Firth & Cupit @ $20 per acre plus 25 surveyed house Blocks @ $20 per block. These house blocks were down Bardon Avenue side of the present 9th Fairway.
Through the purchase of the land, the established venue of our club was decided. Many hours of unpaid work were in front of the few existing members of the day. Fund raising, road closures, land clearing, club house building. The list goes on and on. Without the effort and the foresight of these early members, some of whom are still playing today namely Bill Pattersen, Kevin Snee and Graham Rackley, there would be no Burleigh Heads Golf Club. We the present members thank them for their efforts.
As we've moved through the years Gold Coast Burleigh Golf Club has improved each year till the present time. From a humble beginning of 10 to 20 members to present overall membership of approximately 1,200, its clear how successful our club has become.
On the 8th October 1951 a start was made to create the course. An agreement was reached with the Mineral Deposits, who were sand mining on the Burleigh Heads foreshore. Mineral Deposits needed top soil for the foreshore and we agreed to supply same for the course on the provisor that Mineral Deposits would supply machinery, free of charge, to clear the course for fairway placement.
A cleaning contract was awarded to Stan Wade who agreed to be recompensed when the club was financial. To deploy costs of cleaning, the club sold first grade loam to Frank Green for 10¢ per yard. He took 1360 yards and paid the club $137.00.
All staff at the time were on casual rates as the club could not afford full time staff. Course Architect James Scott was recommended to the club by Geroge Shambrook then President of Coolangatta Tweed Golf Club. Scott had assisted with greens relocation at the Victorian Club. He was employed to design some of the first holes. His cost to shape and form a green was $6.60.
In 1952 Chatfield and Morrison agreed to build two greens and grass same for a cost of $57.00. On the 1st of January 1954 the first green staff were employed, consisting of 3 permanents and 1 casual. Their first job was to plant Queensland Blue Couch. During the year the first vehicle was purchased. It was a 1935 two ton dual wheel Dodge. It was purchased from Skip Yorston for $180.00 by debentures. Included in the contract Skip had to maintain the vehicle free of cost. Two of our original employees Bryce Brennan & Bill Cupit in planting and nursing the Blue Couch to finally grow in quantity were set back when one night some one dug up and stole the lot. Such was one of the set backs facing a struggling club.
In March 1955 a local powder monkey, J. Richards was hired to dynamite stumps in the middle of the proposed fairways. The work went on for weeks.
Finally in 1955 we had 5 holes to play and they were:
No. 1. Hole was the present Par 5.
No. 2. Hole was played from the present 2nd tee to the present 3rd green a Par 4.
No. 3. Hole was the present 8th, a Par 3.
No. 4. Hole was the present 6th, a Par 4.
No. 5. Hole was played from a tee beside the present 6th green to the now 9th green, a Par 4.
The value of our course has improved from the early days of 1952. At that time the Valuer General assessed our course at $376.00. As a matter of comparison, beach front land in Burleigh was worth $4,000.00 per block. To help service our finances -1¾ acres of swamp land, on the corner near the present 13th green was sold for $140.00.
Our first head Greenkeeper, Jim Dolan commenced duties in September 1958 and was to be paid $32.00 per week.
In late 1956 an additional four holes were constructed giving the club its first nine holes.
Early in 1959 Bill Patterson, who is still a playing members, designed the existing 2nd nine, that is in play to this day, with the help of a book on course construction from the U.S.A. Besides the book he obviously had the ability to create a great nine out of virgin land. The scrub behind the present 17th through to the 16th tee is an example of how the back nine looked at this time.
After marking out his suggested layout a bulldozer was used to cut out a path down each hole so that future work on the nine could stretch to his plan. When the second nine was eventually opened in 1960, at the cost of $2,100, this was a lot dearer then expected. As the fairways were virtually pure whitish sand, players painted their golf balls various colours so they could be seen on the fairways. To this day the layout of our second nine is regarded by architects as a great challenge.
As the years progressed the clubs financial situation grew more stable till the 70's came along and land we owned on the side of Bardon Avenue was sold. The sale of 16 blocks realised enough profit, approximately $150,000 to enable us to commence building the club house that has served us so well into the 1990's.
From the humble beginnings in the 1950's to the present, our thanks should go out to the many board members who over the years have given their time, voluntarily to create a great golf club.
Donated by Dave Lane
The Mr Penfold Trophy was first played for in 1961 and has been played for since that time. It must rate as one of the oldest trophies contested on a regular basis in our club. It was originally played for as as Inter Club event between our club and the Murwillumbah Golf Club. After that it was reverted to an individual event.
Mr Penfold was used by East Brothers Gold Suppliers in the 50's to advertise Penfolds Golf Balls that were the first venture into a balata type golf ball. There were 20 made originally and to the best of my knowledge there are only 15 left. It's approximate value in England, where they were made, is $4000 to $4500.