Waratah Golf Club is about to chalk up a major milestone of 100 years on their present site.
The club is planning to celebrate in style with some major events scheduled before the end of the year and leading up to their December 3 anniversary.
The club’s officials have put together a time-line of one of the club’s regarded as a major player in the history of golf in Newcastle and the Hunter region.
Every club which has been formed for golfers’ pleasure and enjoyment had to have a beginning and Waratah Golf Club Limited, the oldest club in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie district, which has grown to be one of the finest institutions of its kind in the state, had its beginning on the original Waratah Reserve in 1901, which is now known as Dangar Park.
In 1920 the property changed hands for the princely sum of $35,000 with the proviso that the membership be allowed to continue playing while the present site was being “golf prepared”.
When the club came to Cockle Creek (Lake Macquarie Shire) in 1920, there was only scrubland along the shores of Cockle Creek although members could visualise it becoming an ideal course – and they were not mistaken.
Most of the heavy work was done by a five-furrow disc plough and hard-working members, who on many occasions sacrificed their golf to work shaping greens, fairways and planting trees and grasses.
On December 3, 2021, Waratah Golf Club will celebrate 100 years of their re-location to Cockle Creek within the Lake Macquarie shire.
The club’s current total membership exceeds 900.
W.E. ALEXANDER OPEN
The W.E. Alexander Open is the club’s annual prestige event which is contended by the district’s leading amateurs and professionals.
These are names of some of the country’s outstanding golfers on the winning list: Peter O’Malley, Lucas Parsons, Leigh McKechnie, Nathan Green, Blake Windred, Dimi Papadatos and Col Johnston, who is the club Patron. The Lady Patron is Beryl Tobin (OAM).
The event is on this year and is scheduled to be played on August 21-22.
The scores through the years are evidence of the challenge presented by the course. (A Vardon Event named for W. E. Alexander – a long-time distinguished President).
Clubhouse additions and changes
Additions and changes to the clubhouse were opened in June, 1954 only to suffer a disastrous fire in 1956.
A town water supply was connected to 10 holes in 1968.
Water rates and water restrictions in summer months became a huge financial burden.
In 1981 the 10-hole watering system was connected to Edgeworth Ponds by member volunteers – then extended to 18 holes.
Vandals burn down golf club shed
June 26, 2008: The Waratah Golf Club’s greenkeeping shed and all its equipment was completely destroyed by vandals.
Not a piece of machinery could be saved in the inferno.
It happened at night and took dozens of fire-fighters several hours to extinguish the blaze.
There had been a spate of vandalism over the months leading up to the fire and the cost of the damages was more than $1,000,000.
The Waratah GC layout was built where a tramway
once existed on the original course layout.
Times change and this has recently become a cycleway, thanks to the efforts of Lake Macquarie Council.
This now runs down the side of the club’s eighth hole
and past the seventh green.
Development and course redevelopment
In 2017, Waratah’s members passed a proposed development where two parcels of land were to be created for housing.
This requires course changes and the club has engaged James Wilcher from Golf By Design.
This was part of the presentation to members in 2017 and is now on display in the clubhouse.
The pride of Waratah GC
While there has never been a shortage of good golfers to come out of the Waratah Golf Club, there are several that have earned an extra mention in this article.
Not the least of those is former US Tour winner, Nathan Green, one of the most popular figures ever to grace the club and still able to give the young guns a run for their money whenever he chooses to tee it up in any of the local pro-ams.
Green, who went on to win the 2009 Canadian Open on the US Tour, was a junior at the club and became a golfer that all the youngsters aspire to be and try to emulate at Waratah GC.
Then there’s Blake Windred, currently plying his trade on the European Challenge Tour, where he recently finished runner-up in the Challenge de Espana after also making his mark in the Aussie events, including a tie for second in the Queensland Open.
Windred also began his junior golf at Waratah before later moving on to Charlestown.
And to top it off, Waratah also boasts a current Australian age division champion in Tristan Moanaroa.
While he’s only a youngster, he is putting in long hours playing and practising at Waratah and is a player we are certain to hear a lot more about in the future.
TIME LINE OF THE CLUB AFTER RELOCATION TO COCKLE CREEK