When Whittlesea Golf Club began 75 years ago, it was a nine-hole course on the property of farmer Walter Andrew. The club then shared its second location with grazing sheep and cattle, resulting in a unique club rule that players could clean any golf ball that had landed in a cowpat.
The third and present 60-hectare site in Humevale initially had a modest clubhouse, built by members with handyman skills and overlooking 1000 trees planted by volunteers in one day.
Now the club has a swish new clubhouse with a a restaurant used for weddings and functions. It has also hosted several pro-am tournaments, with Ian Baker-Finch having his first professional win at the course.
The club has had many highs and lows in its 75 years, and president Garry Heskett (pictured) has seen his fair share in the 27 years he’s been at the club. “We’ve got a good committee and people with golfing in their hearts to keep the club going through adversity,’’ says Heskett, who has been president since May.
The Mill Park resident was invited by his neighbours to join the golf club and says he loves the sport because it’s a great source or exercise, fresh air and comradeship.
The bond between members was reinforced when they had to rebuild their clubhouse after it burned down in 2009, due to a fridge malfunction, a month after the Black Saturday bushfires. The club had lost members in that firestorm and water was taken from the golf course dams and dumped on the fires by helicopters, leaving insufficient water to maintain the greens.
Years earlier, membership numbers dropped after the greens were accidentally destroyed. “We lost all our putting greens because a filter in a pump was put in incorrectly, and instead of watering the greens, it put salt on the greens,” explains Heskett.
Now, the 380 members of the Whittlesea Golf Club are focusing on the future and celebrating its diamond anniversary. “We’re trying to encourage the entire family to join golf, so it’s a family orientated club,” Heskett says. “Everyone’s together and if you get mum and dad involved, the children normally come along.”
Next month, Whittlesea Golf Club is holding a 75th anniversary dinner. For more information, or to book a table, visit whittleseagolfclub.com.au.