Trafalgar Golf Club has a rich and proud history dating back to the beginning of last century. Through the hard work and commitment of Club Members and associates, Trafalgar has been transformed into the impressive course golfers enjoy today.
The Nine Hole Course at O’Meara’s
The first golf course at Trafalgar was on a property called O’Meara’s. The late Harold Perrior said it consisted of nine holes with grass greens. Golfers played the 1st hole over Contingent Street and the 9th came back over the same street to the green near the 1st tee (61–63 Contingent Street).
This course was used from approximately 1909 to 1914. The President at the time was Dr Smithwick. Some of the golfers at the time were George and Harold Perrior and Andy Wall.
A New Course at Sunny Creek
Following a brief three-year period where the Club went into recess, a new course was created in 1916 on the properties belonging to G. Wall, G. O’Connell and the Perrior brothers at Sunny Creek. The new course was set up by Father Shanahan, the Perrior Brothers, Jack Wall, John O’Connell, Andy Wall and Harry Maxwell.
This new course consisted of nine holes with grass greens, 2706 yards in length and par 38. It was extended to 18 holes in 1925. There are no records to show who the first club champion was but it is noted that John Wall was champion in 1921. Some of the champions over the next 13 years were Dick Errington, Bob O’Connell and Harold Perrior.
The Big Flood & the Move to Murray’s
After a very wet 1934 (the year of The Big Flood), construction of nine holes on C. Murray’s property (now L & R Davey’s) commenced in 1935. Some of the more keen golfers played on the Warragul Golf Course that year which was on Killarny just east of Warragul. They then moved onto Murray’s in 1936.
Some of the early associates who played at Sunny Creek and then at Murray’s were Mrs Hasthorpe, Mrs W. Morrison, Miss Rutcliffe (the first associate’s club champion), Allison and Vera Perrior, Gwen Hasthorpe, Mrs J. Birch, Mrs O’Connell, Mrs B. Dowie and Mrs McLaughlin.
The first club champion on Murray’s was Bob O’Connell in 1936. Subsequent champions included Harold Perrior, Jim Barker, Eric Donaldson, Joe Marino, Frank Biggs and others.
Ashby’s & the Extension to 13 Holes
The course was changed in 1946 to modify the 1st and 2nd holes, which were rather steep and include 4 holes more in Ashby Brothers. This took the course to 13 holes in total. Golfers played the first 5 holes a second time to make 18 holes.
The Club House was moved to the top of the hill on Ashby’s where it stayed until 1953. It was then moved again to the present golf course with a working bee. Here it was used until the existing Club House was completed in 1964.
In 1949 a special meeting was called to form a constituted club and buy a property for the Club.The Members agreed to buy the present property, which came up for auction in November 1949. The upset price was 4 pounds 10 shillings ($9 per acre).
After competition from one other bidder who wanted it to plant pine trees, it was knocked down to the Club for 7 Pounds ($14 per acre) for the 100 acres. Stan Charlesworth, a keen Member, was the debenture seller and loaned the Club the money for purchase.
The Current Course: Design & Construction
The course was designed by Club Members Frank Biggs, Les Symons, Eric Donaldson, Albert Morrison, Ivor Ashby, Joe Marino, George Browne and Bob O’Connell, with the help of George Lowe, the Warragul Golf Club professional.
They worked under George Browne and plotted the fairways, greens and tee positions. The Club then employed the Denereaz brothers to bulldoze the fairways at a cost of about $1,400.
Lester Tatterson, George Browne and Bonnie Powell were amongst others who lost a lot of sweat doing the ‘emu parades’. In 1953 Stan Charlesworth decided to commence playing golf on the present course in the hope that the golfers would see the need to clean up the course to make it more pleasant.
Vern Morcom, New Course Plans & Extension to 18 Holes
Years of working bees with Members, associates and the odd contractor to do the heavy work followed. Vic Wilson donated many hours of his time bulldozing, building tees and greens and burning off. We opened another six holes on the second nine in 1957 and the next three in 1958, completing the 18 hole course.
The first water scheme was set up by voluntary labour under the supervision of Basil Ashby. It was opened in December 1960 at a cost of about 1,800 pounds ($3,600).
In 1961 the Club decided to engage a course architect, Vern Morcom, to design a new course and he presented the plans in June 1962.
Morcom made changes to the 1st green, 4th tee, 6th green, 7th tee, 10th hole, 12th green, 13th new hole, 14th tee, 15th tee and green, 16th tee and green, 17th green and the 18th tee. This plan brought about the beautiful course we all share today.
The current water scheme was set up and officially opened in 1974. The current Club House was completed in 1964 by Ron Ireland who was made a Patron Member for his efforts and a liquor licence was granted in September 1965.
Recent Improvements: An Eye to the Future
Over the past 40 years although the layout has remained unchanged, many improvements have been made. Fully reticulated water systems utilise subterranean bore water pumped into a holding dam adjacent to the 10th fairway. This water is then used to irrigate greens and tees, keeping the playing surfaces in optimal condition, whilst significant sub-surface drainage systems have also been installed across the course.
In consultation with acclaimed golfer Michael Clayton, modifications were made to the 5th green and bunkers. More recently under the guidance of the Greens Committee and turf professionals, the fairways have been sewn with Santa Ana couch grass providing fairways comparable with many leading metropolitan courses. The Committee remains dedicated to ongoing maintenance and capital works programs and strengthening the status of the Club as one of the leading golf courses in country Victoria.
Two Members we would like to commend are the late George Browne who volunteered his services to survey the entire new course with tee and green placements and the late Basil Ashby for his mechanical and electrical expertise. They were both honoured with Life Membership of the Club.