In 1921 nine courageous men who made up the Foundation Committee of Sandgate Golf had a dream. Their dream was to convert 57 acres which was largely salt water and mangrove swamp into a golf course. To fulfil their dream, they had to challenge the might of the high tides and this challenge has been accepted by every committee ever since. By the efforts of those few Foundation Members, the higher portion of the land which was not so subject to tidal influence was soon cleared and 6 holes were made available for play.
Later by the use of flood gates, the seawater was shut out of the remaining area and a further 3 holes were built with sand greens. Over a period of years, the sand greens were gradually replaced with grass greens and it speaks volumes for our first Greens Director, Mr H. V. Hewitt, that they were in excellent condition. Although subject to constant maintenance, no green was completely rebuilt until the early 1990’s. Whenever possible, money was made available for filling and grassing the fairways. The 1st and 9th fairways were filled to the present level with filling obtained at 1/- a dray load. As you can imagine, the first few years were difficult. But the club emerged into an era of reasonable prosperity which lasted until about 1940.
World War II so affected active membership that at one time only 13 financial members were on the roll. The war years were undoubtedly the most critical in the Club’s history. The senior members at that time kept the Club alive through those dark days. Most notable of these stalwarts would be the late Clarrie Dixon, Past President and Life Member of the club, who was Secretary for 13 years from 1935 to 1947. Both Clarrie’s son Lloyd and grandson have played at Sandgate.
So the Dixon family had three generations of golfers in the Club. Fred Capner was President from 1938 to 1947 and other members were Ken Clarson, Bill Sheridan, George Pearce, Jack Todd and Bob Hickson, not forgetting the wives, Mrs Clarson, Mrs Dixon and Mrs Sheridan. Fortunately, the Club was still allowed a small liquor quote and the finances were kept alive by the patronage of American servicemen. In those days, there were no staff or machinery, so it was a question of cut the grass in the morning by hand mower and play golf in the afternoon.
In the post years, membership increased quickly and finances improved and a determined effort was made to fill in the low lying areas of the course. Unfortunately, only a percentage of the clubs funds could be made available for this purpose and work progressed slowly. In the early 1960’s, a big step forward towards the filling problem was made with the aid of the Harbours and Marine Department who pumped 16,000 cubic yards of fill into the course. Although the pumping contractors did their best to spread the fill as far as possible, the result was still mounds in places 10 feet high and acres in extent and it was several years before these mounds were levelled out and the filling put to the best possible use.
In 1921, a canvas marquee served as the first Clubhouse. Eventually, in 1923 a Clubhouse was erected and much of the original building still exists, although is has been added to and altered from time to time. Up to 1970, it is interesting to note the annual rental for all the land under the Club’s control was one guinea per year.
As regards to the game itself, the Club has always been represented in Pennant Fixtures and was fortunate to win the “B” grade Pennant in 1939, 1946 and again in 1960. The club takes pride in the three pennants it has won because it has always competed against clubs of much greater numerical strength.
The Club has also produced some fine individual players. The most notable would be Mr W. F. R. Boyce, the first Captain and first Champion. His name appears on Honour Boards all over the State and he represented Queensland many times. Mr Harry Oberg won the championship in 1936 and again in 1946 and he also played for Queensland. In 1965 and 1966, John Ebenston, a then Junior Member who was selected to play in the Queensland Junior Team. Also, in the mid sixties, another Junior Member of the Club, Ross Klumpp was selected to play three times in the Queensland Junior Team. Incidentally, Ross is the only player to take the Championship away from Leo Lofthouse in the eighteen years to June 1971 and without detracting in anyway from Ross’ effort, Leo was most unlucky to not have an unbroken record. Ross sank a 20 foot putt on the 36th hole for a par and Leo missed a 3 foot putt for par so Ross finished one up on the 36th hole. He was only 19 and played against a seasoned match player.
On the Club’s Championship Honour Board, Mr W. C. F. Moles, a past Captain and past Patron won the Championship in 1926 and 21 years later in 1947, he won it again. Mr W. C. Roberts won the Championship in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1950 and 1951, so that was a great effort. Walter Roberts played Pennants for Sandgate for over 30 years and he surely deserved the Life membership conferred upon him. Leo Lofthouse won the Club Championship 19 times. Leo’s game was a queer mixture. His stance was certainly not out of the copy book and his swing was not classic. He used a left hand grip on right handed clubs, but he still managed to put the ball just where he wanted to. Although Leo’s name appears on most Honour Boards, his greatest triumph was the Todd Trophy in 1970, one of the oldest Honour Board events in Queensland.
In 1970, Ian Davis was the current Junior Champion. He also won the Australian School Boys Championship.
The first committee was formed in 1922 and for all those years they have done everything in their power to assist the club. They have made curtains, flags, catered, decorated the Clubhouse, lent money and donated money to the Club. Mrs Ken Clarson with her dignity and charm was a great asset.
Sandgate will never be more than a nine hole course, by no means the finest in the land, but it belongs to Sandgate and the members are proud of it and love it. And for that make no apology!
Adapted from research by Grace Beecher