Development of Golf in Tasmania

In The Mercury of July 21st, 1892 a report on the committee meeting for the Tasmanian Racing Club, at Elwick racecourse, in Hobart’s northern suburbs, mentions,

“A letter was received in reference to the use of the grounds at Elwick for a golf club, but it was decided to ask for more information before coming to any decision in reference to the matter”.

In The Mercury of November 7th, 1895, under the heading ‘A week in Carnarvon, the beauties of Port Arthur’, was the following extract,

“Carnarvon boasts of having started the first golf links in the colony, and as at present, the only one in the south.”

On June, 4th, 1895 the Launceston Golf Club became Tasmania’s first club; the Reverend W. H. Webster was appointed Secretary / Treasurer. Mr Edmund King granted permission for the use of his ground above the South Launceston reservoir, they also played on Lawrence’s paddocks. The Club’s first matches were played on Saturday, June 8th, 1895. Dr. Gutterridge was President. The Club flourished for two seasons before interest subsided, partly due to the distance of the course from town and only a few dedicated enthusiasts were left playing on Lawrence’s and Newstead’s paddocks. Efforts were made in 1897 to find links closer to town.

Another club was established in Launceston in July 1899, playing on links at Mowbray Racecourse, before moving to Kings Meadows in June 1901. The Mowbray Golf Club would later be called the Tasmanian Golf Club and finally, as it is currently known, the Launceston Golf Club. Their course appears to be the oldest in the state.

In March 1896 a club was formed at Devonport, playing on ground owned by Mr G.E. Harrap. The links were formally opened on April 25th, 1896. By 1900 a second club, the Mersey Golf Club, was operating on the eastern side of the river. Sheffield followed soon after, forming a club in December 1896, Mr Roberts and the Hope brothers being among the founding members.

In September 1898 the Longford Club began playing at the local racecourse and then later at Mr T.C. Archer’s estate, Woolmer. In 1903, The Mercury was reporting:

“that there were thirteen golf courses within the same number of miles of Longford.”

The Sassafras Club started in October, 1899, playing over links on Mr John Rockcliff’s estate, Westfield. In 1900 the Club’s links moved to two paddocks owned by Mr Charles Rockcliff.

In the south at Hobart, Mr Macfarlane laid out a short course, approximately 1½ miles in length, at the rear of his property, Newlands on Augusta St, New Town. He sent out circulars to prospective members and a club was formed in April 1896. Dr W. Giblin was foundation Secretary. The Club was in existence until 1907 when the Newlands property was sold for building lots. The members of the Newlands club commenced play at Mr H. Wright’s property Grove, at Glenorchy and the name changed to the Grove Golf Club, which survived until the First World War.

By October, 1896 Newlands was organising to visit the Jericho links and the Tinderbox Bay golfers. A small course was also in existence in 1897 at Bellerive. The Lindisfarne Golf Club commenced in August, 1900 at Beltona.

The Hobart Golf Club was formed in December, 1900, on the Blink Bonny estate at Sandy Bay. The Club lost these links when it was commandeered by the Defence Department and an internment camp was created when war broke out.

In 1916 the Rosny estate was purchased and a 9 hole golf course was laid out to the design of C Fawcett and Mr L.A. Cluff. The Club was granted Royal status in 1925.

In the Midlands, in August 1897, golf clubs were sent up from Hobart for the newly formed Bothwell Golf Club. Play soon commenced at links on the Dennistoun Estate. This Club didn’t last long and another club was formed in 1902. The Club played first on the Logan estate until 1910, then temporary links were used at Cluny estate.

Research by GSA member Ross Baker has found a reference to a course, and play, at Ratho in August 1901; this is the earliest documented evidence of a golf course at Ratho.

Oatlands Golf Club was formed in April, 1902 after members of the Club had been playing on the paddocks of Messrs. Sturgeon and Jones the previous year. Also in 1902, the Midlands Golf Club was formed in Ross playing on the Chiswick links.

Other clubs playing golf in Tasmania prior to 1914 include Deloraine 1898, St Leonards 1899, Evandale 1899, George Town 1900, Ouse 1902, Swansea 1903, Swanport 1903, Glamorgan 1904, Brighton 1905, La Trobe 1907, Stanley 1909, Ulverstone 1911 and New Norfolk 1912.

The Northern Tasmanian Golf Association was formed in 1900, and the Southern Golf Union in 1902; together they inaugurated the first North and South matches and State Amateur Championships in 1902. The Tasmanian Golf Council commenced in 1908.

In 1902 Mr H.N. Giblin won the first men’s state championships and Miss D. Nicolas won the Ladies’ event. Eustace Headlam won the first Tasmanian Open Championship. Early Tasmanian success at Australian Amateur championships includes Miss Elvie Whitesides in 1906, Clyde Pearce in 1908 – as well as the Australian Open that year, Mrs Harrison in 1913 and Len Nettleford in 1926 and 1928.

James Hunter from Edinburgh was the first professional in Tasmania and was attached to the Hobart Golf Club; during his time there he laid out the Sandy Bay links. Amongst his pupils were Clyde and Bruce Pearce. James Herd was the first professional in the north of the island working for the Launceston Sports Depot.

In more recent times, 1954 Australian Amateur Champion, and GSA member, Peter Toogood has won the Tasmanian Open eight times and the Tasmanian Amateur ten times, among his many achievements, and was the founder of the Australasian Golf Museum at Bothwell; well worth a visit for anyone interested in Tasmanian and Australian golf history