A SYDNEY golf club that’s name starts with Royal is about to close its doors for the last time.
Don’t panic, it’s not that one.
Rather, the final curtain will come down on the Royal Australian Engineers Golf Club, a military-run operation, after the final putt drops into the cup on May 2.
Yes, the Last Post will sound for this military-run golf club, which opened to military personnel in the early 1970s and the general public in the mid-1980s.
As military-run golf clubs and member clubs around the nation prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli with Anzac Day golf tournaments on Saturday, April 25, RAEGC members will gather to play their penultimate Saturday competition and remember the good times.
The club’s general manager Barry Dodd said it was a sad day for the club’s 250 members – 40 military members and 210 civilians.
“The School of Military Engineering, located at Steele Barracks at Moorebank, is being relocated to Holsworthy Barracks where they have built a new school so the golf course will sadly close,” he said.
“This site (School of Military Engineering and golf course) will be redeveloped into the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal.
“It’s disappointing, but there’s nothing we can do,” he said. “It’s one of those things they call progress.
“We’ll get all the members together and have a day where they can drown their sorrows.”
Designed and built by the Royal Australian Engineers as a training task, the nine greens and 18 tees golf course has challenged golfers of all levels since opening.
“It’s a challenging, tight golf course with water coming into play on six holes,” Dodd said.
“One of the highlights was having a pro-am every year in November.”
According to the website, the club is “more than a golf club”.
“We are the best hidden golfing secret in Australia,” it says.
Former member and ex-serviceman Eric Aitkins was saddened to hear the course will close next month.
He took up the game during his military days at Royal Australian Engineers Golf Club.
“I began my love affair with this game at the nine greens/18 tees golf course which would be a challenge for any golfer because of its tiny greens.
“It’s a beautiful course maintained by the members and would surely sharpen anyone’s game.
“Every year they had Anzac Cup golf days to celebrate the Anzac spirit.
“They used to be fun events.
“We would do things like tee off on one hole with a cricket bat, then on another hole we would have to wear a greatcoat and a steel helmet without the liner and tee off.
“It was challenging stuff like that and good fun.
“In the 1980s the defence forces used to act as marshals at the Australian Open,” Eric recalled.
“I remember being a marshal at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney in 1988 in Greg Norman’s heyday.”
Eric told Inside Golf he also played at military courses Lone Pine and Puckapunyal in Victoria.
“One of my regimental appointments was at Lone Pine where I was the golf club’s secretary,” he said.
Dodd believes some of the members will quit the game while others will seek membership at nearby golf clubs – albeit at a much higher rate.
Military people paid just $110 for a 12-month membership while civilian males paid $380 and females $250.
So, for the next four weeks (until May 2) members and visitors will continue to enjoy playing the club’s competitions four days a week.