Category Archives: Oral History

Margery McWilliam Interview

Interview 1:

Interview 2:

Patron Australian Golf Heritage Society since 2012
Member of Bonnie Doon Golf Club since 15th February, 1950
Life Member Bonnie Doon Golf Club 2000
Lady President of Bonnie Doon GC: 1963 – 1965 and 2001 – 2004
Lady Captain of Bonnie Doon GC: 1960 – 1962 and 1971 – 1975
NSWLGU Council member 1963-1979, 1987-1991, 1993-1996
NSWLGU Match Committee member 1968-1979, 1987-1996 (Chair – from Jan 1975-Aug 1979, 1989-1996)
NSWLGU Junior Golf Committee member 1965-1967
NSWLGU Finance Committee member 1976-1977, 1990-1991
NSWLGU Scratch Score (Course Rating) Committee member 1965-1967-1974, 1993-1994
NSWLGU Vice President 1973, 1975-1977, 1980, 1990-1991
NSW Delegate to ALGU 1974-1978
Elected NSWLGU Counsellor in 1996
Awarded Distinguished Service NSW Sports Federation Award in 2006
Lived in Malaysia from late 1979, for 7 years. Death of husband Bill McWilliam (golfer) 2008.
Ladies Australian Hickory Shaft Champion in 1999 & 2000.

Project Name: Australian Golf Heritage Society Oral History Project
For further information and a project brief, please contact: Curator/Collection Manager
Australian Golf Heritage Society: 9637 4720
Interview Length 57:34 – archival WAV (948MB)
Interview 1
53:45 – edited MP3 (49.2MB)
25:02 – Archival WAV (412MB)
Interview 2
22:53 – edited MP3 (20.9 MB)
Interview Number No.6 of series
Timed log X
Name of interviewee/ narrator Margery McWilliam.
Sometimes referred to as Marge but known correctly as Margery.
Date of Birth 26/6/1926
Date of Interview 7/6/2015 (Interview 1) and 29/6/2015 (Interview 2)
Place of Interview Margery McWilliam home in Stella Maris Nursing Home, Cronulla, NSW Australia

Technical Data – Sound Files

Brand and Model of Digital Recorder Zoom H4N
Brand and type of microphone Zoom H4N inbuilt with sock
Sound Storage Medium used – USB, CD/DVD – client History Herstory has back-up copies
Location of Back-up Home – various and Dropbox, AGHS Museum
Digital Recording Rate     Uncompressed WAV 24 bit 48 kHz  archivalCD (WAV – 44.1/16) and MP3 – edited
Sound Field Stereo

 Technical Data – Photographs/Images

Full Title of each item Margery McWilliam portrait scanned from narrator photograph
Place/location where photograph was taken Cruise ship
Creator Unknown
Source Access/Restrictions/Copyright Nil restrictions
Model of Digital Camera Unknown
File Format (eg JPEG, TIFF, RAW) JPG
Pixel dimension 1878 X 1350
No. of images 1
Additional documentation, images and artefacts Information about Margery is available online.


Signed Conditions of Interview Use Form X
Signed release form for photos provided by interviewee X


Time Subjects Additional Information
0:00 -0:99  Project introduction AGHS –Australian Golf Heritage Society.
1:00 – Standard Genealogical information: DOB: Born in 26/6/1926 (date provided by daughter). Aged, 89 (provided by daughter). Born in Bathurst, NSW. Her father was with the Department of Agriculture. Moved from Bathurst to Wyong then Goulburn because of her father’s job. Had a rural upbringing. Met her husband in Goulburn when he was in the army. Margery married 7/2/1948 Goulburn.  Margery didn’t play golf as a child, started playing in her 20s. Attended school in Wyong. When she got married her husband was the golf professional at Goulburn Golf Course. He later took up the position at Beverley Park in NSW. Her brother and father were both golf champions and her father had helped design the course at Wyong. Her mother played golf at Goulburn at Tully Park Golf Club, Goulburn, named after someone on the council. Margery had a sister who died from Cancer and her brother, the club champion at Goulburn Golf Club. Goulburn Golf Club was a good club to play at but the club didn’t encourage young people to join as a danger on the course was that a train line ran through the course so players had to stop and wait for trains travelling through. Her husband ensured the course was cared for, fertilised appropriately – response given when asked about Goulburn being in a drought area. Margery Grace McWilliam, sometimes called Marge, but more correctly and commonly Margery is used.  38 Chantry Street, Goulburn NSW – Tully Park Golf Club. Margery comes from a golfing family.  Blackshaw Rd Goulburn, NSW – Goulburn Golf Club.))NSW 2580Margery’s husband is Golf Professional, Bill McWilliam (deceased).
11:45 Work additional to homemaker, mother and work for golf: worked for a solicitor at the courthouse in Goulburn during the war. Her father was in charge of providing steel posts and wood to people on the land during the war years.  
14:19 Margery had three children. She used to do the books and accounts for her husband as the Golf Professional at Beverley Park. Margery used to play at the golf club and also played in the competitions. She made good friends, thinks she’s outlived most of them. Beverley Park Golf Club in St George district, Southern Sydney, NSW.
18:30 Margery was in the NSW State Hockey Team. After being injured with a black eye in a hockey match her father encouraged Margery to take up golf instead of hockey. Funny retelling of having a black eye. Overall, Margery’s family was very ‘sporty’.
21:00 Descriptions of team golf outfits – matching skirt and sweater. Ladies clubs compared to the clubs used by men. Margery has noticed that Golf, like any sport, has made great improvements in its equipment. Her favourite golf brand was whatever let her hit the ball best! She didn’t use a golf caddy. She only had her bag pulled for her on grade days. In ‘those’ days you had someone who was in the team caddy for you on a special occasion. Female players had female caddies.  
24:55 Played in Malaysia at Royal Selangor Golf Club and did well in competitions, won the Foursomes, received many trophies over the years. She and Bill lived in Malaysia with Bill as the Golf Professional for seven years. Living in Malaysia was very enjoyable. This was when her children were older and grown-up from approximately 1979. Margery also did the books for the club office; she was very busy with club life and business. Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – Royal Selangor Golf Club.
27:27  Margery’s assistance was for female Golf players. She was on a committee at Bonnie Doon. Margery explained that at most clubs the male and female committees were separate apart from organisation for mixed play. The atmosphere between male and female organisers was always very friendly.  
29:28 Major honours: NSW Sports Federation Distinguished Long Service Award, New South Wales Sports Awards, 2006 and Australia Day 2008 Order of Australia medal. Margery was always thrilled for what she was doing for the clubs. Margery referred to the lessons given by Golf Professionals such as her husband. He was very patient. Bill also taught children at Beverley Park for free. Margery did not teach golf. Bill tied to help Margery with her game. Bill was especially patient with new players. Interviewer mistakenly gives wrong year for the NSW Sports Awards. Bill McWilliam was also awarded an Order of Australia medal. Probably they are a very unusual couple to both receive the prestigious honour.
34:18 Margery thinks Australia is good for golf as well as all sorts of sports because of the space and the climate. Margery thinks Karrie Webb is an excellent Australian player and also considers Sarah Kemp is excellent. Karrie Webb and Sarah Kemp are two major Australian female golfers.
36:25 Thinks players who earn millions of dollars to play golf are “jolly lucky”.  
37:00 International influences on Australian golf – everyone helped each other for the games. American golf influenced Australian players; Americans were leaders. Australian female players were “able to hold their own”. American golf helped improve the game. Mentions Sarah Kemp was taught by her husband, Bill. Interruption of knock and comment from Stella Maris employee removed at this point. Comments about her family’s connections to golf.
40:20 Green keepers today take pride in their work; they do the best they can.  
41:20 Margery loves watching golf on television and delights in being an armchair critic. She loves watching golf and stays up late to watch it on television.  
42:28 What is meant by the expression ‘Golf is a funny game’. Margery made a joke about counting the shots. Margery, instead of referring to golf as a ‘funny’ game made comments about the complexity and challenges of the game.  
43:46 Margery’s advice to up and coming players. Margery suggests players test themselves against amateurs before trying professional competition.  
44:43 Life on a committee: no troubles or arguments people are there to do a job. Sometimes a committee member would have a different point of view. Everyone was interested in doing the best for the clubs; for the competitions and the players.  
45:50 Australian selector – doing her best for the clubs and the players. Margery didn’t have trouble with the teams. She did her best to help players. Margery always kept track of their scores Australian selector:1977-1979 In Perth for one selection period.
47:20 Professional Golf Australia and Golf Australia (Amateur Golf Association) – was involved with both.  
48:38 Rules of Golf: Margery had a very thorough knowledge of the rules. No longer has a rule book. Knew the rules for the sake of the players. People sought her advice about the rules often, generally after matches. Jeanette Miller (daughter) is aware that her mother was considered a rules expert
50:46 Conclusion and final comments. Not everyone can be a champion but golf is a good game for people to play.  
   Interview 2: 29/6/2015  
0:00 – 0:38 Interview Identification information  
0:38 Bill McWilliam taught golf to the King of Malaysia. He was picked up by the king’s plane and flown to the palace for lessons. He had to follow protocol and be aware of time constraints. Lessons were held at Royal Selangor Golf course. The king’s daughter also played golf and had lessons with Bill. Both Margery and Bill were invited to a family wedding.  
6:05 The NSW Golf Course at La Peruse. The bunkers were very deep and it was hard to get the ball out. It was also hard for women to physically get out. The bunkers were adjusted for better access. Otherwise it was a very pleasant golf course to play at and caddies were provided for players.  
9:51 Bill once won a fridge in a ‘nearest to the pin’ competition. They were both thrilled because it was much better than the one they owned. Margery said the purses were good and players were happy with what they won in competitions.  
12:08 Measuring the holes for the NSW Golf Union. They used a type of tape. They did this to get a rating, a handicap for the people playing.  
13:53 Preparing the balls for the Beverley Park Night Range: Margery’s and Bill’s backyard was covered in wire mesh that allowed golf balls to rest and dry on the wire without falling out completely. Margery used to roll the balls in good white paint between the palms of her hands in such a manner the paint stayed put. And then the balls were turned over to dry. A red dash was put on all the balls to show they belonged to Bill’s night range. This was done to thousands of balls.  
18:31 Margery’s thoughts about the sometimes very short skirts worn by golfers such as Jan Stephenson. Jan was once asked to wear a longer skirt.  
21:00 Some holes had tees forward to help women players. Comments about the difficulty of the NSW Golf Course. Course designers have learned about courses that are too hard and adjust them. Comments about Australian Golf Club being an excellent, difficult but fair course. Australian Golf Club – Rosebery, Sydney, NSW


RAHS Lecture and Seminar Podcasts

The Royal Australian Historical Society has an established tradition of conducting history lectures, workshops and seminars including its popular Day Lecture series held on the first Wednesday of each month.

Since June 2012, RAHS Digital Media Officer Graham Sciberras has been recording these events in an effort to make them available in to a wider audience. The Society would like to thank the speakers for allowing these lectures to be podcasted.

2014 Day Lecture Series

Michael Sheret & Norman Richardson – Golfing Puzzles 1839 Sydney Town

The diaries of Alexander Brodie Spark provide the first reliable evidence of golf played in Australia. On 25 May 1839 golf commenced at Grose Farm and on 1 June 1839 the NSW Golf Club was instituted. Three puzzles have surrounded the 1839 golfers. What triggered them to start golf? Why did the NSW Golf Club have such a short life? How was the 1839 club connected to the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, London? Join Michael Sheret, who has researched and published in golf history, and Norman Richardson who will unravel the puzzles at this RAHS Day lecture.

Alex and Dave Mercer Interview

Project Name     Australian Golf Heritage Society Oral History Project
For further information and a project brief, please contact: Curator/Collection Manager
Australian Golf Heritage Society: 9637 4720
Interview Length 01:28:11 – archival (1.41GB)          01.23.40 – edited (76.6MB)
Interview Number No.4 of series
Timed log X
Name of interviewees/ narrators Alex Mercer and Dave Mercer
Date of Birth Alex: 17/3/1934
Dave: 14/4/1931
Date of Interview 30/9/2014
Place of Interview Alex Mercer’s home
Rose Bay NSW Australia

Technical Data – Sound Files

Brand and Model of Digital Recorder Zoom H4N
Brand and type of microphones used
(with split cable adapter)
Zoom H4N inbuilt with sock
Sound Storage Medium used – USB, CD/DVD – client History Herstory has back-up copies
Location of Back-up Home – various and Dropbox
Digital Recording Rate     Uncompressed WAV 24 bit 48 kHz  archivalCD (WAV – 44.1/16) and MP3 – edited
Sound Field Stereo

Technical Data – Photographs/Images

Full Title of each item Alex and Dave Mercer portrait
Place/location where photograph was taken Rose Bay
Creator Interviewer
Source Access/Restrictions/Copyright Nil restrictions
Model of Digital Camera Sony Xperia Z2
File Format (eg JPEG, TIFF, RAW) PNG
Pixel dimension 220 x 123
No. of Images Several taken, image abovewas chosen


Signed Conditions of Interview Use Form X
Signed release form for photos provided by interviewee X
List of other relevant documentation Scanned handwritten notes about Alex Mercer written by Shirley Mercer (spouse) and scanned newspaper article. All attached.



Time Subjects Additional Information
0:00 -1:04  Project introduction AGHS –Australian Golf Heritage Society
1:4 – 2:04 Standard Genealogical information: DOB Alex 17.3.1934Dave 14.4.1931 Alexander William Mercer David Mercer (Alex and Dave) Dave known as Perce the punter. Both known by the nickname ‘Merce’
2:32 Mother, Elizabeth, and Father, David: family came from Scotland at turn of the nineteenth century. Forbears came to Australia for a better life / ‘doing poorly in Scotland’. David worked in the shale mines for 6 pence per week at age 11 in Broxburn, near Edinburg to help family. David was very athletic. Mother’s family came from the other side of Scotland near Glasgow. Mother a tailoress, hand-made all clothes for the children; nothing store bought as family was very poor but self-sufficient. Father had various labouring/ iron worker factory job. Alex and Dave from large family of 8 children, 7 boys and 1 girl – ‘a fair team’.   John, James (Jim), Dave, Don, Alex, Jean, Kevin, Ivan Don and John had polio. John very good golfer despite polio, played with callipers and crutches, nearly single figures


Jim excellent amateur



7:03 Lived at North Ryde next to the North Ryde golf course. Actually born on the site of the current golf course then the family moved up the road, both boys caddied as boys and this helped them develop their love of golf. Parents were not golfers, dad played once and said he didn’t want to ‘show them up’
8:04 Dave and Alex loved finding lost golf balls in the golf course creek at North Ryde golf club. They used to muddy the water so the golf members couldn’t find their lost balls and the next morning Dave and Alex would break the ice on the now clear water to get the golf balls to sell for 3 or 6 pence depending on the quality. Played golf all day and night. Headmaster Dobell let them keep their golf clubs at the school because of their obsession. Went to school bare footed and played golf with no shoes. Lived near the 10th green, played from the 11th through to the 14th. Stored the golf clubs in the headmaster’s office, then after school, played from the 15th round to the 10th and then go home. Sister Jean did not play golf. ‘Naughty boys’ but needed the money from the golf balls for the family North Ryde Public School
13:00 Dave good, representative athlete and good runner but not good at cricket. Alex a good all-rounder. Alex went to selective High School Fort Street Boys and sport was compulsory. Alex a good all-round sportsman. Funny story about brother’s cricket game
12:50 Some changes now to design of North Ryde Golf Course, as boys they were covered in paspalum. Three holes over the road where they lived don’t exist anymore (now houses), Lane Cove Rd is cut right through, there is a straight line all the way out to the highway now. Other than that it is the same as when they were children.Not sure who introduced kikuyu, probably an agriculturalist who was also a golfer. Now South African Kikuyu grass. Dave and Alex saw the introduction of this grass as they were growing up Sand based courses use couch. At Killara Golf Course In the 1950s the club was spending 20,000 pounds per year to kill the paspalum
17:20 Alex and Dave both started with hickory shafts – Dave used hickory until the age of 15, given some from a good golfer named Waddam.  Alex was loaned a set of clubs by the man he caddied for on the weekend. He had to maintain them for the golfer and he could use them in competitions such as the Schoolboy Championship which Alex won at 15 years. If they didn’t like the flexibility of a hickory shaft they’d use a broken bottle to shave the shaft to adjust it. They knew how to repair clubs. In 1951 (when Dave went to Killara Golf Club) there were no buggies and people used caddies, 30 caddies were employed. Now it is reversed. With buggies golfers carried more clubs and associated equipment. Then the buggies were canvas and golfers used a maximum of 8 clubs and they were able to improvise. One club was used to do 3 jobs. Probably better shot makers then but not as good putters because of the quality of the greens, Greens now are flawless. Older players developed skills with all sorts of shots using what they had. Mercer curse, both not great putters as younger golfers. Mental focus on putting wasn’t as good as now. Now both good putters. Dave played with Norman Von Nida, he gave advice but also was not a good putter. Norman Von Nida was a great character. Hickory then steel then light-weight steel then aluminium now graphiteEarly 50s still selling hickory shafts at Mick Simmons Sports Store Alex’s description of how to repair a hickory shafted club 

Alex played at an Australian Open in North Queensland with couch greens that did not have perfect putting conditions, sand was brought in to even the putting greens out


Now is a different game, now a putting competition / technical explanations / now silky greens

29:05 Used to be professional, graded caddies, men even up to the age of 40. Went in inter-club competitions. Could not play as amateurs because they were professional caddies. Chid caddie pay rates, almost all money earned went to the household
32:33 Alex, academically gifted, went to Eastwood Opportunity School, dux and cricket captain then went to Fort Street Boys, was captain of school and in numerous sporting teams. When he left school he got into Law but gave it up after 18 months to play golf as a career. Alex has never regretted his decision to not follow an academic professional life. Dave was a ‘plodder’, went to North Ryde then Roseville Tech. He was a reasonable student but knew his life was in golf. At Roseville Tech a Sports teacher, named Longman Reeves used to ‘discipline’ him every Wednesday at 11am but actually was setting Dave up to take him to be his caddie at Ryde Parramatta Golf Course. Dave left school at 15 after doing the Intermediate Certificate. Schooling “Stand in the corner Mercer, you’re not concentrating” (Dave Mercer)
38:05 Dave’s golf career began as Trainee Professional at North Ryde, left after 6 months after he won trainee golf tournament event. Got offered job at Killara after winning the tournament and being noticed, told how to apply for a job. Dave went to Royal Sydney to finish his training, then went back to Killara as a professional, was in PGA. Replaced Jimmy Adams at Killara as Professional. To apply for the Professional’s job spent most of his savings on a suit. Borrowed money to stack the shop. Dave stayed at Killara for 43 years as the Pro. Bernie Oakman, excellent golf coach helped Dave, got him the job at North Ryde Both, absolutely no regrets for their lives as golfers. Both contributed to golfing in Australia, teaching, committees, PGA leadership 1953-Dave and 1956-Alex: PGA membership
44:04 Teaching: both Alex and Dave have coached/taught/helped numerous players at all levels. Alex especially loves teaching promising junior players. Dave had to concentrate on his teaching duties at Killara Golf Course. Both currently teach at 80 and 83 years. Over the years if one brother wasn’t available, players, including professional level golfers would work with the other brother because Alex and Dave used similar teaching philosophies.In the early 1950s there were 120 golf professionals and 180 clubs in NSW so the job was highly respected and you couldn’t fail if you had reasonable talent and did the right thing. Not like this now. Now very different.  Golfers mentioned who had lessons from Dave: Ian Baker-FinchWayne GradyVaughan Somers 
47:23 Role of Golf Club Professional in 1950/60s. They could play in club tournaments as the golf representative.  In Alex and Dave’s era good golfers were amateur or professional. If any sponsorship was accepted the player was immediately deemed professional. Amateurs now aspire to be professional tour players. Few make a living as a top player. Norman Von Nida had a retainer from Frank Packer and taught Kerry Packer, he just played tournaments, no club work Others such as:Kel Nagle – PymbleEric Cremin- Roseville

Ossie (Horace) Pickworth-Royal Melbourne were professional tournament players


Alex had his traineeship with Eric Cremin at Roseville

50:05 Dave won 56 pounds in the Killara Cup, 36 holes played with 40 professionals and 40 amateurs competing together; Dave came first.Club purse prizes, not tournaments – 18/36 holes for100-200, even 50 pounds approximately. In the past, major world players competed every year in Australia, for example, champion golfers such as no. 1 Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer built up Australia’s circuit for the love of the game. They were given a caddy, air fares and maybe the hotel accommodation, though not extravagant, and possibly the wife’s expenses. Tiger Woods wanted 5 million to play in Australia. Other players expect similar amounts. As a result the international players don’t play in Australia. 

Champion tour players now don’t give back to the game. They isolate themselves from the broader golf world.

Ridiculous prize money today, for example 14 million dollars won in 3 weeks 
57:10 Alex’s work with a champion player with a disability and the enormous satisfaction from the process. Player rang from Hong Kong to proudly tell of his winning a medal. Alex talked of working with NSW squads. Alex explained the satisfaction of following the careers of successful and not so successful players; they become part of the family. Dave loves the bond as well that lasts to this day. ‘A lifetime of interest’.


Dave and Alex both spoke of rapport.


Alex coached all levels and sexes in New Zealand for 20 years – Girls, Ladies, Juniors and Men and recounts a major international win for NZ (1994 World Amateur Team Championship) in Vancouver, 47 countries played.


Dave had to concentrate on working within Killara Golf Club and appreciates the satisfaction from the thousands he has taught over the years. Families have lessons through the generations. Alex left Royal Sydney because he had felt restricted with teaching club members only.


Dave: 43 years commitment to Killara Golf Club.

Steve ElkingtonPeter O’Malley NZ player: Michael Campbell (US Open Champion was coached as a 14 years old in NZ) 

Others as well

1:03:27 Golf equipment. ô       At Killara there was a fulltime club maker employed for 20 years, making and mending golf clubs. They both had to do a practical exam to become a golf professional and a member of the PGA – for example, make a driver with a shaft, block of wood, a brass plate, a piece of fibre inlay and some screws. They also had to make a grip from scratch. Unless you had practical skills you were of no use as a Club professional.ô       1976 still optional to play with small balls in Australia. Had to change to big balls (1.68) in England as Alex found when he played a tournament in Britain in 1976.ô       Alex and Dave used to reconstruct balls and put on a new case/cover during the war years because of the rubber shortage. Covers can’t be cut on modern balls. A uniform ball size made the game around the world a better game. New balls behave consistently for players; balls don’t go dramatically off-line unlike in the past. ô       Tees are much longer now because drivers are so deeper in the head. The sweet spot has changed to higher. Low tees would not work with modern heads.

ô       Clothes: Players wore shirt and tie up to the 1960s / 1970s, eg Alex for Pro-Am tournaments as a Pro at Royal Sydney. Clothes are now purpose designed and this makes the game more comfortable.

ô       Green-keeping has changed because of the introduction of Science. In the past a green-keeper could achieve excellent and sometimes better results with a hose, a hand mower and a Lambretta schooner. The green-keeper worked ‘on feel’ – a green-keeper would get up at 11pm and hand water if needed.

1950s at least until 1960Alex did the test in 1956 Edgar Oakman noted as excellent at making clubs 



Dunlop 65 one of the best balls ever played




Amusing advertising for the distance balls can be hit


Specialised gym work assists players


Best tactic ever is attitude




Hickory shafts now feel dreadful to play with and Dave and Alex wonder how they played with them as kids



Lambretta Schooner is an Italian motor scooter

1:18:35 Costs have escalated for membership of the PGA. Significantly cheaper than when Alex and Dave began. From oversea came the idea to have 2 membership associations. One group for club professionals and another for tour golfers. Has returned from 2 factions to one body: professionals and tour players combined. As PGA chairman Alex didn’t want the PGA to separate into 2 groups. System works in USA because of the much larger population much greater financial backing for golf. The Tour players faction went broke. They lacked infrastructure to organise tours without the PGA club professionals.  
1:21:23 Alex: If you don’t love the game get another job. You must contribute to the game, teaching or playing. Dave: Get a good education before you turn to professional golf. You must love the game.  
1:23:40 Thanks from ‘two old golfers’. Conclusion of interview.