By Peter Owen

WHEN the club’s fairway mower, purchased a year earlier for sixty-two pounds, nine shillings and sixpence and pulled by a horse named Dolly, broke down in 1940, the astute stewards of Singleton Golf Club responded by arranging for 2000 sheep to be brought in to graze the links.

It is a measure of the charity and public spirit of the people of this charming Hunter Valley community that the sheep were provided without question or delay, though the incident may have accelerated the retirement of Dolly, who was replaced the following year by a more sophisticated mowing solution.

The story, though, is typical of the long-standing community support for a sporting institution in the Hunter, which this year celebrates its centenary as Singleton’s first, and only, golf club.

Kellie Ferguson, secretary manager of the club since 2017, still seems stunned by the support the club continues to receive – not just from the members themselves, but also from the local business community and other clubs in the Hunter.

Click on the club’s website and you will be greeted by a moving caravan of golf club events, each of them sponsored by a different Singleton company, seemingly just as motivated by enhancing the services of this club, as they are in promoting their own business.

“We have a wonderful group of about 80 sponsors,” Miss Ferguson said. “Singleton is one of those towns where everybody is happy to help.”

Miss Ferguson and course superintendent Steve Kellner, who has been at Singleton for four years, are the club’s only fulltime employees.

They are supported by an army of volunteers, including a band of 10 skilled and enthusiastic members who turn up every day to help with mowing, tending the gardens, emptying bins and maintaining the course.

Volunteers came to the fore again this year when the club was briefly without a professional caterer. As Miss Ferguson and the board sought a replacement, members answered the call to provide snacks – bacon and eggs as well as pork and gravy rolls proving particularly popular – to hungry members and visitors.

“Singleton has a real family focus,” Miss Ferguson said. “I can tell you that everybody at the golf club feels like family to me.”

The nine-hole Singleton Golf Club, a picturesque woodland course with a par of 69 and separate tees for the first and second nines of an 18-hole competitive round, is a credit to Mr Kellner, who is deep into a 10-year plan to develop a showpiece venue, rivalling any course of a similar size in the country.

The club is situated in Boundary Street, Singleton, just off the New England Highway, on an area of land known as Howe Park.

Though the first round of golf was played there on March 26, 1927, Singleton Golf Club had its origins nearly two decades earlier.

That was when a small band of golfers began playing on a makeshift course on the property of a landholder named R. H. Dangar at nearby Whittingham. 

Play was restricted to invited cronies and though it operated under the name ‘Singleton Golf Club’ it was considered to be a private distraction for Mr Dangar and his friends.

By the early 1920s, with golf becoming increasingly popular, there was felt to be a need for a properly laid-out course, where all residents of Singleton were welcome to play. 

A formation meeting was held on October 20, 1922, at the Singleton Mechanics Institute, where it was resolved to form a public club to be known as the Singleton Golf Club. Dr R. S. Bowman was elected first club president and subscriptions were set at one guinea for playing members and associate members.

Early play took place at a site known as the ‘Gowrie paddocks’, between the water reservoir and the Maison Dieu Road, but it was not until Singleton Municipal Council agreed to allow the club access to Howe Park that the club really began to progress.

Council approval was given on February 17, 1927, and six weeks later mayor Ald G. S. O’Halloran drove the first ball from the first tee and declared Howe Parks links officially open. 

A stroke competition was held in the morning and a mixed foursomes in the afternoon. 

Each green had a wire fence around it to keep off stock, which were still taken on agistment by the Council. A kerosene tin of water and a bucket of sand were located on each tee, for the teeing up of balls.

In 1929 the stock was removed, the fences came down and the greens enlarged. Over the years the course continued to develop, its lush fairways and greens making it the best conditioned nine-hole course in the Hunter Valley, providing a challenge for the most capable golfers.

As Miss Ferguson says, the club is a community centre, a hub for meetings and events and a place to take the family to celebrate birthdays, engagements, reunions, anniversaries and baby showers, or just to relax and enjoy a good meal.

There is a members’ lounge, restaurant, a large auditorium and a massive outdoor area with shaded areas and a covered and enclosed playground.

Work is progressing on two new sheds, one for members’ golf carts and the other a greenkeepers’ maintenance shed, and renovations and improvements to the golf course are ongoing.

Membership at Singleton costs $495 and there is no nomination fee. Members playing a social round pay $8, and those in a club competition pay an additional fee – $14 for the Friday twilight nine-hole event, up to $22 for Saturday and veterans’ competitions.

Visitors playing socially pay $22. If they play in a club competition, they will pay $12 plus the competition fee (18 holes) and $7 plus the comp fee (nine holes).

There are currently about 400 golfing members, but that number will increase during the summer months. Social membership is strong at about 185, while there are 25 active junior members.

Singleton Golf Club has produced a succession of outstanding golfers, including current A grade club champion Nathan Bagnall, who plays off a scratch handicap. Nathan won his first A grade club championship in 1996 and has now achieved this feat a record 14 times. 

The previous record was held by club legend Roger Worms, who won 12 A grade club championships, the most recent in 1989.

Club professional Les Bennett has been at the club for 36 years, providing service to the members and helping develop the golf game – and careers – of countless young players.

Singleton Golf Club
51 Boundary Street, Singleton NSW 2330
Phone: (02) 6572 1633
Pro shop: (02) 6572 4875
Email: admin@singletongolfclub.com

This article was prepared by Inside Golf on behalf of Singleton Golf Club.

MONTH OF CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

A CALENDAR of exciting events has been drawn up to celebrate Singleton Golf Club’s centenary this month and to honour its achievements over 100 years.

A range of golf competitions, beginning with the club championships to be played over the second and third weekends of October, has been scheduled, culminating in a two-person medley Ambrose competition on October 29 and a vets’ centenary event on October 31.

This year’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, October 20 at the Mechanics Institute – exactly 100 years since the founding meeting took place at the same spot.

The social highlight of the celebrations will be a gala night at the golf club on Friday, October 28, where 120 people will attend a semi-formal function until late in the night. 

Singleton Golf Club’s most accomplished players and most influential current and former members will be interviewed during the evening.

On Sunday, October 30, a stainless steel time capsule, containing such items as a mobile phone, a pair of golf shoes, score cards, current popular golf balls, tees and golf clothing, will be buried on the golf course, to be opened in 50 years.

There will also be a colouring-in competition, with a golfing theme, for school children. Winners will be announced at the golf club and in local media.

“Those taking out membership packages this year will receive a gold, silver or bronze pitch repairer with centenary ball marker (depending upon the years of membership). A total of 100 social memberships will be distributed free of charge to the first 100 applicants.”

Highlights of the program are:

GOLF EVENTS
Saturday, October 1Pro Shop Monthly Mug Competition 
Saturday, October 8Men’s Club Championships round 1
Sunday, October 9Men’s Club Championships round 2
Saturday, October 15Men’s Club Championships round 3
Sunday, October 16Men’s Club Championships round 4 and presentation night
Tuesday, October 24All Day Shift Workers Competition
Wednesday, October 26Ladies Invitational
Thursday, October 27Veterans Invitational
Friday, October 289 hole, all-day Open Competition
Saturday, October 292 person medley Ambrose Open Competition
Sunday, October 30Time Capsule Burial Day
Monday, October 31Veterans Mug Centenary Event
SOCIAL EVENTS
Friday, October 28Gala night for 120 people at Singleton Golf Club
Saturday, October 29Back to Singleton Golf Club night
Tuesday, November 1Melbourne Cup Day Centenary Celebration event
OTHER EVENTS
Thursday, October 20 Singleton Golf Club AGM at the Mechanics Institute

About Inside Golf

Australia's Golf News Leader, Inside Golf gives you in-depth coverage of Australian golf news, golf events, golf travel and holiday destinations, Australian and international golf course reviews, the hottest new golf gear and tips and drills to improve your golf game. Written by award-winning journalists, Inside Golf also features interviews with Australia's top professional golfers, the game's rising stars, industry leaders and golf equipment manufacturers. You can even win great golf prizes and equipment. It’s all in Inside Golf. FREE at Australian golf courses, driving ranges and golf retailers across Australia.

Connect

Follow on Twitter Connect on Facebook View all Posts Visit Website