All posts by Alan McDonald

Tempe House Display – 11th-12th April

The Mayor of Rockdale – Shane O’Brien (left), is on hand to open Australian Heritage Week at Tempe House. AGHS member, Dr Michael Sheret (right) shares the A. B. Spark story of golf’s beginning in Australia

AGHS has donated material for the permanent exhibition in the Tempe House Interpretation Museum Room. The material outlines the important part played by Alexander Brodie Spark in the earliest known golf played in Australia in 1839. There was an unveiling ceremony on the Friday night. Putting on the lawn with replica featheries and authentic putters of the time was enjoyed by many visitors. Tempe House was open to the public during this weekend as part of Australian Heritage Week – 11 to 19 April, 2015.

Donation of permanent addition to the Friends of Tempe House. Dr Bob Spark (left; great-great grandson of Alexander Brodie Spark) and Ross Berry (centre; Tempe House Historian) receives the donation from Dr Michael Sheret.

Several hundred people have passed by Tempe House and were rewarded by learning about Alexander Brodie Spark and his interest in Golf.

Dr Bob Spark putts a featherie on the lawn in front of Tempe House with a putter not far removed from the one his great-great grandfather used in 1839. The ‘Captain General of Royal Blackheath Golf Club’ looks on.



Getting to Tempe House

Proceeding by car along the Princes Highway from the city, at Tempe (Wolli Creek) go over the bridge across the Cook’s River. Then at the first set of traffic lights turn right into Brodie Spark Drive. You will soon come to a roundabout with a green abstract sculpture in the centre. Take the first sharp left turn. The grey building on your left is Woolworths, at the end of which is the entrance to Woolworths car park, where there is free unticketed parking for two hours. Suggest doing the right thing before leaving the car park by doing some shopping at Woolworths or Dan Murphy. Alternatively you may find street parking, which may or may not have a time limit. There may also be unlimited parking on the other side of the Princes Highway.

Once parked, head  back to the roundabout. On the other side through a gap in the buildings you will see St Magdalene’s Chapel, behind which is Tempe House. Take the path to the left of the Chapel. About 50 metres down this path you will see two old gate posts, where you turn right on to the lawn in front of Tempe House. This is a beautiful way to approach Tempe House.

If you are coming by train, Wolli Creek Station is very near Tempe House. Up the stairs from Platform 2 and to the right is the main exit from the station (near the public toilets). Turn left, go up the stairs in front of you, cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, go down the ramp to the left of Discovery Point Café. Turn left at the end of the ramp. When you reach the two old gateposts turn right on to the lawn in front of Tempe House.

Tempe House has recently been restored. It is architecture of understated elegance. Ross Berry, Tempe House Historian, should be on hand to answer questions about the House. As well as the house itself, the gardens at the rear are rather splendid, accessible via a few difficult-to-spot steps.

  • AGHS donates display information on Alexander Brodie Spark and the 1839 Grose Farm golfers.
  • AGHS banners on the 1839 golfers displayed at the entrance to Tempe House.
  • AGHS members on hand to answer questions on the 1839 golfers (hard copy information also available) and on golf history in general.
  • Golf set typical of an 1839 gentleman golfer on display.
  • Putting on the lawn with long-nosed, scare-necked putters and featherie balls (typical of 1839) on the lawn.
  • Sightings of the 1812 Captain-General of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, London, in his full golfing uniform.

Early Team Matchplay Scoring

When we think of golf matchplay scoring these days we always think of scores like 3/2 meaning 3 holes up with 2 to play. This, of course, means that the defeated player has no chance to win the single match so play is halted after, in this case, the 16th green.

The Golf Australia State Series match play events are all scored this way. It’s a method which also assists with overall pace of play and allows early won matches to vacate the course.

Major Pennant in many states is also played with this scoring method. Teams are arranged into Divisions and Sections according to their previous performance and Semi-Final draws are then seeded on matches won and total games won.

The Sydney Morning Herald – August 19, 1897

But that’s not how it was always played for team matchplay events. An example of the way it was played can be found here in a match between ladies of the Sydney Club and a team from Royal Melbourne and Geelong Golf Clubs.

Each team member played their seeded opponent but each player played the full 18 holes. The number of holes won in total for each player in the match was tallied for the team outcome.

In the above example, of which there are many published during this period, Victoria won by 23 total holes to 4 won by Sydney.

This is the method of matchplay scoring used in the annual Al Howard trophy played between The Golf Society of Australia (incorporated in Victoria) and The Australian Golf Heritage Society (incorporated in NSW). All players get to play a full  18 holes of the course they are playing. The matches are stroke play and handicap based.