TRANSITION from a peaceful dairy farm on the outskirts of Southport and Surfers Paradise to a thriving golf course in the centre of upmarket residential areas began early last century.
Golf was first played on the grounds now occupied by the Southport Golf Club in 1924. The land, then owned by South Coast Recreations, was part of a complex that included a cinema and hotel. South Coast Recreations bought the land from Mr Holden, a local dairy farmer, whose son later worked for many years as a groundsman on the course.
Originally the farm was made up of two sections divided by a Government road to which Mr Holden procured the rights, thereby making one property – although to this day there remain three separate titles of approximately 38 acres, 10 acres and 64 acres, totalling 112 acres (45.33 hectares).
A special meeting convened on 23rd August 1924 voted to form a golf club. Provisional president was Dr R S Berry and patron Mr J G Appel; initial membership was 95. The new club’s first professional was Mr W Scott, appointed on 16th March 1925.
South Coast Recreations transferred the land to its offshoot Southport Golf Recreations Limited in 1931. That company operated a nine-hole course on part of the land until 1937, when a consortium of businessmen leased the land for £11 per week to establish the Greater Southport Golf Club, which was registered on April 14 1937. Mr W Lewis was chairman until the first annual general meeting, when Mr R Willis Taylor was elected president.
The club continued to operate the nine-hole course until 1948, when it was decided to purchase the land for £9,000.
President at this important stage of the club’s development was Mr E D Pike, whose name has been commemorated in the annually contested E D Pike Memorial Trophy.
Club captain was Mr E F Doyle, who had much to do with development of the 18-hole course. He was later made a life member in recognition of his great services to the club, and was club patron at the time of his death in 1979.
Wylie Dowling won the first club championships over 18 holes in 1948. Wylie’s niece Irene (Chick) Elder some fifteen years later won the first of five associate club championships in 1963, ’64, ’66, ’67 and ’70. Chick also set the associates course record in 1968 for the new layout with a round of 76.
Wylie’s nephew Thomas (Chilla) Dowling some 29 years later also won the club championship in 1977 and 1980. In 2008 Wylie’s great nephew Bradley Dowling served on the Board of Directors. In 2012 after many years the bridesmaid, Brad joined his antecedents winning his first club championship.
At an extraordinary meeting held on 22nd August 1952. All existing articles of association were rescinded and the name of the club shortened to Southport Golf Club with foundation members absolved from paying any further subscriptions.
Allowable membership was increased to 2,100 under a new constitution redrafted in September 1965. Present membership is around 1,500 with limited openings available.
Extensions were carried out to the then existing clubhouse (as shown to the left) situated behind our signature poinciana tree in 1975. This beautiful tree presided over one of the club’s more dramatic moments when famed Queensland aviator Bert Hinkler landed his Avro aircraft near the first tee in September 1928 during difficult flying conditions.
Anne Alletson (nee Nunn) represented Southport Golf Club in the ladies’ playing ranks from the early 1960s into the 1970s. Anne represented Queensland and Australia in both interstate and international tournaments. She was a member of Queensland teams at different times from 1962 to 1978, was Queensland junior champion in 1962, Queensland open champion 1973 and 1976 and runner-up in the Australian Championships in 1975. Anne represented Australia in the Tasman Cup of 1974 and 1975, and the Commonwealth Tournament played at St Andrews in 1975. As captain of the Gold Coast team, Anne was the first to hit off in the inaugural Meg Nunn Salver, the tournament named after her mother.
Southport Golf Club was the venue for the 1981 Queensland Close Championships, when international professional Bob Shaw set a new course record of 67, equalled by club junior Tod Power, who went on to beat the classy field to win the closed title from Bob Shaw and local assistant professional Brett Wilson. Club and junior champion that year, Tod later went on to win the 1981 Australian Schoolboys’ Championships. Former Southport junior and club champion Ossie Moore also won the Australian Amateur Championships that year.
Our course is not an easy one for low markers, with many tough par fours. The record of 68 stood for many years until a number of course alterations gave rise to continually changing record-holders. In 1980 Ossie Moore and Danny Spencer established a new record of 67 against a par 70. Following alterations to the 3rd and 4th holes, Tracey Dunn shot a new record 70 in the 1981 Gold Coast Open, later that year lowered by closed champion Tod Power to 67.
Further alterations under a course master plan were made to the 3rd, 8th, 12th and 13th, creating two more par fives and one more par three for a course rating of 71. These altered holes came into play in February 1983.
Play commenced on the new 2nd hole in 1984, the 4th green was upgraded, and the old Bent green on the 18th was replaced with Bermuda 328. Tod Power again established a new course record of 69 against a par 71 in the Gold Coast Open that year. The new 14th and 17th holes then came into play, making 10 greens converted to Bermuda 328, plus the practice putting green.
Further upgrading of the course continued during 1985 including construction of a lake between the 5th and 6th holes, drainage work on the 5th, 6th, 11th and 17th holes and laying of Green Leas Park grass on those fairways and rebuilding of the 11th green now turfed with Bermuda 328.
Stuart Bouvier became the youngest club champion when he won the 1985 championships at just 15 years of age.
Final work envisaged by the master plan commenced in 1987. Eight greens (5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th) were redesigned and reconstructed by Marsh Watson Pty Ltd, finalising the change over to Bermuda 328. During the reconstruction period, eight new lakes were added to the course to improve drainage.
Long-serving president Trevor Dare retired in 1987. Throughout the five years of Trevor’s leadership much was achieved, not the least being completion of the course master plan.
Members played the completed course in March 1988, and Matthew King established a new course record of 67 in the Gold Coast Open, while Stuart Bouvier won the Australian Amateur Championships.
Highlights of 1989 included Peter Zidar’s new course record of 64, shot on his way to winning that year’s Gold Coast Open. Stuart Bouvier continued on his winning way, becoming the leading amateur in both the NSW and Australian Opens. Club captain Jack Turner retired after five years’ service – his contribution to the club was unique. Work on the 3rd, 12th, 14th and 18th tees converting them to Green Leas Park was completed in 1989.
A most impressive performance by Philip Soegaard in 1990 included taking out the club championships, two national titles, four state titles and 14 other tournament wins during the year.
The ladies broke a nine-year drought to win the 1991 Division 1 pennant. In the same year members selected the layout for a new 8th green, relocated to minimise danger to players on the 9th tee and completed in 1992.
Melissa Daw in 1993 became the first lady to play below the standard scratch at Southport, returning a 69.
Work began on the new $2.3m clubhouse in April 1994, scheduled for completion in May the following year. The club hosted a pro-am in conjunction with the Australian Ladies’ PGA tournament in December, when past amateur winner Lorraine Lambert won with the equal second best score ever made around Southport, 72.
Our new clubhouse was completed on schedule and officially opened on 11th June 1995 by Mrs Helen Ford, then Southport’s longest serving member.
Jon Riley won the 1996 club championships for the fourth consecutive year, then long serving member Jim Stone broke that run by winning the 1997 event.
Reconstruction at the front of the 15th fairway was undertaken in 1998, as well as total reconstruction of the 3rd and 17th fairways. Irrigation on these fairways was also updated to current standards. This work necessitated moving the club championships to an earlier timeslot in August when junior member Clint Sailes won that year’s event.
A new course record of 66 was established by Lee Manning in 1999 on his way to winning the club championships. Also, Lee became the first player to be both club and matchplay champion in the same year.
The focus of Southport Golf Club is to provide an outstandingly presented golf course and facilities for the enjoyment of our members and their guests. In February 2009 the 13th hole was re-opened after being successfully redeveloped at a total cost of $500,000. Then in November 2009 the 18th hole was re-opened after its successful re-development at a total cost of $397,000. This has marked the total re-development of the entire back nine which has been achieved using the club’s cash reserves and now provides the members with a modern, fair and interesting test of golf for all levels.