Harvey Golf Club is an 18 hole par 72 fully reticulated course with bent grass greens.
The Harvey Golf Club Constitution provides equal rights to male and female members of each membership category.
Competitions for men are held twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays, all year round and for women on Thursdays during the winter months. Ladies are welcome to play in the Wednesday and Saturday fields.
The Harvey Golf Club welcomes visitors to all its events with the summer competitions open to men and women.
Details of all events can be found under the events drop-down.
The Harvey Golf Club is generally considered to be a tight course that when combined with smallish greens requires thought and accuracy to play well on. Regular players of the course find that chipping well is an essential part of a good round and the lower handicapped members are almost all excellent practitioners of this art.
The course includes a driving range for fine tuning your golf and a friendly clubroom with bar facility and change rooms for after the round.
The bar is licensed for approx. 160 people and is available for function hire.
A HISTORY OF THE HARVEY GOLF CLUB 1930 -2003
by Sir Donald P Eckersley (1922 -2009)
Don Eckersley caddied for his mother on the first Harvey Golf Course in 1930. He joined the Club in 1937. He served the Club for several years as President during its reconstruction in the 1950’s and played a major role in the construction of our present course in 1970 to 1973.
He was a life member of the Club and was still playing golf in the weeks before his passing at the age of 86 on the 12 April 2009.
Club President of 2003
Golf in Harvey has been a favourite to many local golfers since 1930. The first Golf Course was built in Cookernup in 1929 on a farm owned by Norman Buchanan. This was situated on the west of the South Western Highway north of Riverdale Road and the Logue Brook Dam Road Harvey. This was a nine hole course and is believed to have been 1800 yards long. The longest hole being 250 yards and was known to be reached in two shots with the old wooden shafted clubs. The club champion on that course was a young golfer by the name of Dick Trevenan who happens to be the brother-in-law of Harry Blackburn.
Harvey, not to be outdone, built their first course in 1930. This course was known as Londons Paddock and was situated on the east side of South Western Highway opposite the Chinese Restaurant and service station.
This course had only seven holes and wound its way east up the Harvey River valley then back along the south side of Weir Road. Two holes were played twice to make up the nine. The course par was 32.
The unusual feature of this course was that the club house, (which was a bough shed) and the first tee were not in Londons Paddock. They were situated on vacant land on the western side of the South Western Highway almost exactly where the Chinese Restaurant is today. The first hole was played across the highway and over the fence and into the paddock. The highway was a gravel road in those days and traffic was not really a hazard.
The fences surrounding Londons Paddock were barbed wire and As an eight year old I trailled my Mother around this course on several occasions and on women’s days it was always of great interest to see who would clear the fence with the first shot.
The barbed wire fences had to be negotiated with a style and a potato sack hung over the top wire.There were several of these styles around the course and quite a few stories where male golfers bypassed these and got hung up on the top wire. One in particular was the first club Captain (the local postmaster) who was a very important person in those days. His name was Massingham and exceedingly large in statue. It took three strong golfers to extricate him from a very embarrassing situation.
The greens on this course were built by the Gibbs brothers who farmed at on Weir Road. A small area of grass was chipped away and levelled it with a section of heavy railway line, then rolled it. In effect they were dirt greens which worked very well in dry weather but were a disaster when wet. The first President of the new golf course was AD Hill who was the headmaster of the School, a one-time State cricket player. Percy Dewe who was my Uncle described his golf as trying to hit every ball for a six but never achieving one over the bowlers head, usually ending up at square leg or mid-on.
Harvey had six golfers with reasonable skills at this stage and used to play in team events between Bunbury – Capel – Donnybrook – and Balingup – which made up the composition of the South West Golf Association. Percy Dewe recalls travelling down to these events in Mitter Paul’s Studibaker.
Mr Paul owned and ran the only garage in Harvey and had his large Studibaker car with a luggage rack on the back as well as side racks on the running boards. As a result this vehicle was able to convey all six golfers and their clubs to these team events. Mr Paul was called Mitter Paul because that is what he called himself. If you rang him he would pick up the phone and say “Mitter Paul speaking”. Incidentally he is the grandfather of one of our Clubs previous Presidents Ron Newby.
Percy Dewe also recalls another event of a four man team going to Bunbury on a challenge. Bunbury had never been beaten by any other club and boasted the best course and the best players. The Harvey team consisted of George Dempster – Percy Dewe – Ted Massingham – and Dave Muir. Dave was the manager of the Sunny West butter Factory in Harvey. He was also Judy Comb’s Grandfather. Percy records the team score as Dempster 99 Dewe 101 Massingham 130 Muir 130 and believe it or not they won the competition by two strokes. Incidentally many of the players in these competitions wore traditional plus fours in those days.
Harvey’s first golf course has a very short life span. The Harvey Weir wall was to be raised and a new supply channel has to be built right through the middle of London’s Paddock and in 1931 the Club would have to find a new site. The new location became known as Palmer’s Paddock. Major Geoffrey Palmer owned most of the land between the South West Highway and the Railway Line on the South side of Uduc Road expect for a narrow strip of land bounded by Buckby road. This road was not constructed at that time and nor was Hacket Road which was just a muddy track between trees.
The Club house for the new course stood at the southern end of Hacket road and consisted of a small shed about double the size of a backyard lavatory. In it was a small shelf for writing cards and contained some afternoon tea facilities. The rest of the space in the shed contained tools of trade – shovels – rakes – green baggers etc.
Access to the club house was not possible down Hacket Road in wet weather. Mostly players parked their vehicles in Herbert Road, opposite where Path Road now stands and walked across the Railway Line.
Palmers Paddock contained a few old citrus trees and a few clumps of paperbark here and there and a few odd Red gums and Blue gums which had been ringbarked and were dead. With fairly minimal clearing a nice hole sand green course was laid out. From the Club house it went South parallel with the railway line then turned Northeast to where the Harvey swimming pool now stands then turned West back to the Club house along the South side of Buckby Road. The tee for the ninth hole (a four par) would have been where Cec Holmans house now stands in Kidson Street.
In the area where the Harvey swimming pool now stands there was a creek meandering through the portion of Palmers Paddock. It was more like a series of ponds than a flowing water course and much to the concern of the associates a creek hole was established across one of these ponds. It was an attractive little pool about 50 metres across fringed on two sides with paperbark trees. It was not deep, probably half a metre in the deepest park. A boardwalk was built across it and a very long handled net installed on the boardwalk for ball retrieval. The water was crystal clear and the balls easily seen.
One of the Associates was a Mrs Markham. Her nickname was Lady Lil. She was an English woman, very cultured and married to a Captain Markham who was a permanent soldier in the British Army and fought in the Boer War where he was wounded in the knee and walked with a permanent limp. He and Mrs Markham migrated to Australia in the 1920’s and took up a ten acre property in Third Street and planted an Apple orchard. Their house still stands, although not recognisable in its original form and is situated about 300 metres south of the Harvey Fresh juicing factory.
Lady Lil (I call her that fondly) was really a lovely lady and spoke the Kings English with great precision. When I was a kid she used to pay me three pence every couple of days to take her down a small billy of milk. However she was defeated by this cleverly constructed creek hole and could only rarely negotiate the crossing. In the end she made her own rule for this hole and used to carry her ball across the place it on the edge of the green and count four. However many shots it took to hole out was added to the score. She believed this was fair and just the solution to the problem. The Club was quite tolerant to this practice and I suspect other players (including men) adopted this practice from time to time.
The course par on Palmers Paddock was 32 (No five par holes) and being largely cleared there was really no definition of fairway except along the boundary fences.
A flock of sheep did the course mowing and the sand greens were protected by a single wire fence which surprisingly kept about 95% away. If you hit the wire fence with an approach shot you were permitted to play it again. Occasionally cattle were grazing midweek and repair work was necessary on the greens. Another hazard on the course was that Major Palmer had a very aggressive jersey bull which sometimes strayed on to the course. This caused considerable chaos which it occurred on Ladies day.
I had the job every Saturday morning of bagging the greens for which I received the princely sum of six pence.
This was often augmented in the afternoon when I stayed on and caddied for Captain Markham. The bags were not hard to carry. With the exception of two or three good players golfers then used only five clubs. These consisted of a Driver – a Midiron (viz.3 iron) – a Mashie (viz. 5 iron) – a Mashie Niblic (viz. 7 iron) – and a Putter. Some players had six clubs and added a Niblic (9 iron) to their collection. The all-up weight of a canvas bag plus five clubs was less than three kilos. These were all wooden shafted clubs.
From memory the first set of steel shafted clubs same to Harvey in 1935. Percy Dewe had been back to England for a holiday and brought them back with him. When golf resumed in Harvey in 1946 after the war 90% of players still had wooden shafted clubs but by 1948 90% had converted to steel.
The last conversion to steel was probably my father who reluctantly converted about three of his clubs in 1965 but still had two wooden clubs in his bag in 1973 when he played his last game at age 86. The highlight of his career in golf was in 1969 when a team from the Harvey Rotary Club played a team from the Rotary Club of Satagayo in Japan. There were six players in each team and the game was played on the same day on each course and the lowest total nett score of each team would decide the winner.
My Father came in with a gross score of 81 which was one less than his age and with a handicap of 24 his nett was 57. Needless to say the Harvey team won and the Rotary club of Harvey holds a very unique and ornate trophy courtesy of the Rotary Club of Satagayo in Japan.
The golf course in Palmers paddock only lasted five years. The great depression of the 1930’s had arrived and with it came a decision by the government of the day to build the Harvey River Diversion Drain. This drain was designed to prevent the Harvey River from flooding, which it did nearly every second year when the weir overflowed. This project provided employment for 2000 people. Unfortunately for the Golf Course the Diversion drain had to be dug right through the middle of Palmers Paddock. A new course then had to be found.
The site chosen was known as the little commonage and stretched from the Harvey River to Summerbrook Road along the Eastern side of the South West Highway.
This Commonage was dedicated as a settlers reserve and vested in the Harvey Shire. (Then the Harvey Road Board). In all it contained around 600 acres. My Father who was Secretary of the Board at the time assisted the club to lease 150 acres adjoining the Harvey River at the southern end of the Location for a peppercorn rental of one Pound a year.
And so began construction of Course number 3 in Harvey.
The area near the River was fairly well wooded and some clearing was necessary. To achieve this twelve members of the club donated ten pounds each. This money was used to pay Jim Williams who with a horse a tree puller and a kangaroo jack did the job. It is interesting to note that this money (120 pounds) would have given 40 weeks work for someone on the then basic wage of 3 pounds.
The rest of the construction of the course was done by volunteer labour. The club house, which again was a bough shed, was situated just inside the gate leading to the Tourist Bureau and Stirling Cottage. The first hole went from there due East parallel with the River. The second hole crossed a creek which runs into the Harvey River and the green would have been around where the dining room of the Harvey Agricultural College is situated. From there was a dog leg going east and north east and from there six holes running parallel east and west the ninth green finishing about seventy metres south of where the monument stands today.
In 1937 the Club sponsored two junior members:- myself and Laurie Muir the son of Dave Muir. This was a first for the Harvey Club and we were made eligible to play in the competitions as there was little else they could do with us. I am sure many of the members cursed us under their breath when drawn together in the competitions. In those days most competitions were played in pairs. On own choice days my hero was Captain Markham who made a point of asking me on nearly every occasion.
There was no Clubhouse as such for socialising after the game and Captain Markham who was a good friend of my father would often stop off at our place after golf and enjoy a whisky or two with my father. I can recall one evening when the whisky has flowed for a much longer time than usual and our family were patiently waiting for our tea, Dad said to him – by jove the time is slipping away Cappy its gone half past seven.
Cappy looked quite shocked and said in his clipped English voice – By Gad Eckersley this is serious and shot out the door as fast as his gammy leg would carry him, muttering as he went – Lil will kill me. Mrs Markham had a reputation in spite of her gracious ways of being a very domineering wife.
One small highlight of my golfing career in 1937 occurred on opening day. It was the custom of the Club in those days to run a long driving competition. This was held before play started when everyone took turns in making a wild hit off the first tee.
When just about everybody had had a hit and Les Grieves was leading the field, Lloyd Haywood, the Club Captain called out to me to have a go. To everyone’s chagrin and to my own great surprise I passed Les Grieves by about ten yards. The prize for this event was two bottles of beer, which, being under age I was not about to accept. I never really was able to find out what happened to the two bottles of beer, but I suspect that Les Grieves may have been given them off the record to placate him.
The life of number three course in Harvey spanned from 1936 to 1940 when World War 2 intervened. It is interesting to reflect on pre War golf in Harvey. When I was admitted as a junior member in 1937 there were 25 playing members and 30 ladies. I can recall around three single women, one was Glad Mincham and another was Alma Rigg an aunt of Richard Rigg; then there was Ivy Grieves (who later became Jan Archibald wife of John Archibald one of our revered Life members). Then there was Emily Rath (later to become Emily Dewe wife of Percy Dewe). Of the 25 playing members all but four had wives that played. The associates usually fielded more than the men on their playing day. Mixed foursome were a popular even on Sundays when just about the entire club participated.
In the old Clubhouse at Stanton Park there was a list of playing members on 1937 and their handicaps. It is reproduced here.
A. Ball 26 L.R. Grieves 24 J.Pritchard 32 E. Buckenara 32 Les Grieves 24 G. Rigg 19
R. Castenelle 12 L. Hayward 22 H. Rigg 20, P. Dewe 8 E. Holthouse 32 C. Robinson 9
D. Eckersley* 23 AJ Markham 29 P. Sandland 22,WR. Eckersley 16 C. McCann 26 R. Stanton 25
J. Fimmel 32 D. Muir 14 G. Stimson 28, G. Gauntlet 32 L. Muir* 19 G. Stimson 28
L. Windus 12
* Junior member
As can be seen apart from four or five players we were a pretty mediocre lot. From 1930 to 1938 the Club Championship rotated between Percy Dewe, Dick Trevenan and George Dempster who won it in 1932 and 34 but then left to play in Bunbury. Percy Dewe and Dick Trevenan battled it out until 1938. In 1939 a newcomer named Fred Yule came to town to work in the bank and he won it in 1939. He also won it the first year after the War. (Cookernup Course closed in 1932 and their players came to Harvey).
The life of Harvey’s 3rd Course spanned from 1936 – 1940 when World War 2 intervened. The Golf course was taken over – first as a military training camp – then an internment camp for unnaturalised Italian immigrants – and was also used for a period as a POW camp for German sailors from the Merchant Cruiser “Cormoron” which sank the Sydney. For a brief period after the War the camp was used for rehabilitation training for ex-servicemen who qualified for the Soldier Settlement scheme. Finally the area was taken over by the Agricultural High School in 1948.
The Commandant of the Military Camp was a Major Owen who was a keen golfer and a friend of my father. He was also very sympathetic to the fact that our hard won golf course has been destroyed. So in 1945, in collusion with my father he used his manpower and military equipment to construct 6 golf holes north of where the monument stands.
This gave the post war golf club a very good start and in 1946 six more holes were constructed to make a 12 hole course. This was to become Harvey’s fourth golf course. Its fourth club house was yet again a traditional bough shed and was situated adjacent to the highway just inside the gate at the top of what was then known as Johnson’s hill.
The first ran south parallel with the Highway to where the Monument now stands. It later became hole No3 when the Course was rearranged but was always referred to as the Monument Hole. It was also scene of my first ever eagle. The hole was a four par of 326 yards. I had hooked my drive and had to play my second shot over the top of a large Red gum tree. I cleared the tree with my shot by was twenty metres left of the green. The ball landed on top of the concrete monument, bounced high in the air to the right and into the hole.
The course rearrangement was made to accommodation a vision of the then Club President Laurie Grieves for a Licenced Club House on top of this hill. Laurie drove this project with great enthusiasm and enterprise and although the club was not over encumbered with money he assured us that we could build this Clubhouse for next to nothing and the bar would soon pay for it. He was right.
The Anglican Church rectory was to be removed to make way for the new Harvey Primary School. Laurie arranged for the Golf Club to do the demolition in exchange for all the salvage. All the timber flooring and fittings were in good condition as well as most of the roof and as it was a fairly large building so in fact almost 90% of the rectory finished up at the new Clubhouse building site. Club members went up into the bush and cut all the stumps for the foundations and installed them digging all the holes in the hard gravel clay soil. Much of the erection of the building was done by members with minimal professional help. Extra materials were brought by the club through a variety of cheap sources or highly discounted. In some cases professional help was given gratis: for instance the historic fireplace in the Clubhouse was voluntarily built by Pop Newby the Principle of J. Newby and Sons. Two years later a wing for the new bar was built on to the north of the building. Again the building materials were brought on the cheap and most of the work was done by the then Club Captain Jim Regan while on long service leave from the High School at which he was the Woodwork Instructor.
As soon as the Club house was finished the Club applied for a licence and to Laurie Grieve’s horror we were refused on the grounds we needed a minimum of 100 full members to justify a licence. Associates did not count in the view of the licencing Court. After canvassing for members for around a month we had reached a total of 96 still four short.
Laurie Grieves said to me one Saturday afternoon after golf lets go down and canvass the Bowling Club they have their licence and it is currently their happy hour. So down we went. We got a good reception and Laurie put them our plight as only Laurie Grieves could. The tragedy of having to go home from golf without a beer or the horror of having to drink a cup of tea as unthinkable.
They were very sympathetic to our case and after much discussion and as many beers made the proposition – we will rouse up four members for you if you are prepared to do the same for us. After some hard bargaining we got them to agree on a basis of four for two so Laurie and I joined the Bowling Club there and then. The bowling club were true to their word and found us four members. On our second application we got our licence.
By 1952 the Club was in a position to build six more holes to achieve a full eighteen hole course. This was achieved by dovetailing two new holes within the existing 12 holes and constructing four new holes along Summerbrook Road at the North end of the course. At the base of the hill where these new holes were to be constructed were six giant trees which had to be removed. The bulldozer which we had hired to clear the fairways had been made available at a very concessional rate by Hugh Harding and was driven by Mick Ballinghall husband of Rose.
Mick had cleared all the Fairways except this patch of giant trees. The dozer just bounced off them. He decided that the only way to get them down was to pull them with a cable after cutting roots with the blade of the dozer. We had to get the cable around the tree very high to get enough purchase and this proved to be difficult to do so with a stone on the end of a string. We could throw it over the lower branches but to throw it over braches 50 feet up threading though the lower branches on the way up proved impossible.
We finally found the solution with a spear gun. The Spear carrying a length of fishing line could be aimed pretty well over the selected branch, the fishing line would then be used to carry over a light rope – the light rope would haul a heavier rope and then the rope would be attached to my tractor to pull a heavy cable over. After many tedious hours we had the trees down on the ground and then ran into the next problem. The trees were too big to be moved for stacking and had to be cut in half. No chainsaws available at that time and we had to resort to the old crosscut saw – some job.
After the fairways were finished we arranged a busy bee for a stone and stick pick. This was held on a hot Sunday – there were 120 members, associates and their families; four tractors and trailers. A wonderful day, at the end of which Laurie Grieves licenced premises was severely taxed.
It was at this time that the Club decided to make Dick Stanton a life member and name the new 18 hole course ‘Stanton Park’. Dick who had a small orchard in 5th Street and was a keen golfer and President of the Club from 1937 to 1939 and was Secretary of the club in 1946 when it reformed after the war and also the honorary greenkeeper. He did the entire fairway mowing with his own tractor as well as the construction and maintenance of the greens. I assisted him with the mowing on occasions and Frank Gough who was the Handicapper assisted with the greens.
In 1948 when the Club got their licence Dick Stanton became the Licensee and also the bar manager as well as barman. He still continued with the work on the course as well and for his own convenience moved his caravan up to the clubhouse and virtually took up permanent residence. By 1952 the club had constructed four grass greens and Dick did all the pumping of water from the channel and the watering of the greens. By 1953 it had become too much for him and for the first time the club had a paid greenkeeper: Ralph Italiano.
Dick Stanton continued to run the bar for a few more years until age and ill health caught up with him. It is interesting to comment that one of our present members Frank Italiano who is Ralphs’ son who did a great job as Course Chairman on our present course. He did an apprenticeship with his father at an early age. I used to watch him spend many hours on the tractor with his father at the old Stanton Park course when he was a boy.
Stanton Park, which I call course number 5 was to serve Harvey for the next 19 years.
By 1968 it had become apparent to members that this course could never achieve the standards required in the present era. Although it had some outstanding features that facts were that only 8 of the 18 holes were on flat or gently undulating country. The remaining 10 were all on steep gravelly slopes and although spectacular in the deep of winter were very hard going at the beginning and the end of the season. Reticulation and grass could not be achieved without huge expense and summer golf would be next to impossible.
In the event a new Course Committee was appointed with wide ranging terms of reference to investigate and construct a new course providing a suitable site could be found. The Committee appointed were:- Myself as Chairman John Archibald (Incumbent President) Bevan Campbell (Past President) Brian Denney.
And so the search began.
The land in the irrigated area of Harvey could not be considered and we were forced to look at all the fringe areas. Nothing was suitable in the hills so we looked to the west.
Bevan Campbell who was District Forestry Officer in charge came up with idea No. 5067 which at that time was under the control of the Forest Department. The Committee agreed after inspection that this Reserve was by far the most suitable site that could be found on which to develop a golf course.
So negotiations began which lasted nearly two years before work began. To have the forestry land excised for a golf course was almost impossible without a special act of Parliament. But we discovered another way was possible if the Forestry Department was to receive a similar area of land in exchange. The Golf Club could not provide that land but it may be possible to persuade the Harvey Shire to provide a section of the Harvey Commonage which was not being used to achieve an exchange.
So negotiations began; first to get the Harvey Shire approval and secondly for the Shire in turn to get the approval of the Minister for Lands and Forests (Dave Evans) and the Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning (Ron Davies).
The two Ministers were invited to Harvey to meet with the Shire, hosted to a luncheon, briefed thoroughly on the proposal and the desperate need of the Golf Club to find a new venue then taken on a tour of the old Club to understand its problems and then out to the new site to see what a great course it would make. Finally back to the park of the Commonage that was to be exchanged to convince the Minister for Forests that the land he would get in exchange was approximately six times more valuable that the reserve.
Following the tour and over afternoon tea the Minister both gave their whole hearted approval for which I have been eternally grateful. It is often the case that Ministers leave you hanging by saying they will give the matter serious consideration and go back and consult their departments.
I should also register here my sincere thanks to the Shire for the whole hearted support given to the Golf Club on this issue. It was a big ask for them to give away 200 acres of the Commonage for the forest reserve and on top of this a bit later provide a self-supporting loan for the new Club house. It was co-incidental that I was Shire President at the time and had to make the request on behalf of the Gold club for their approval to the scheme. I did not participate in the debate except to answer questions and did not vote on the matter as I could be accused of having a vested interest. After the Shire had given their unanimous approval however I was able to lead the discussion with the Ministers.
The final result of all negotiations was that the Golf Course Reserve is vested in the Shire and the Shire in turn leases the land to the Club on a 21 year renewable term. After the successful conclusion to the negotiations and the Golf Course being the lessee of the land then the real work had to begin. The number 6 Golf Course had to be designed and then built on what was virgin and unclear land. Most of the area was gently undulating – a few areas and a couple of swamps.
John Archibald came up with the idea of doing a contour survey so that we could see what it looked like on paper. This idea was adopted and John, being the engineer came out with his theodolite – I carried the staff – and a member of John’s PWD gang became the axeman to give line of sight. This survey took about one and a half days then John converted all the readings on to paper and drew a full scale contour map of the area.
The next step I believe to be unique in history of golf course design. The contour map was used to build a scale model of the whole area using plaster of paris to construct the land form showing the hills, the slopes, the swamps etc. In fact we were able to look at a three dimensional picture of the land form without the trees on it.
Our small committee spent many hours poring over the model. One early decision the committee made was the siting of the Clubhouse on the top of the first and highest hill. Then a decision was made to copy in part the design of the Bunbury Golf Course and make the first and the tenth holes three par. The committee believed that this facilitated a good gateway for large fields and avoided congestion that occurs on three pars when all four are distributed around the rest of the course.
Using pink ribbons and drawing pins we then set out various configurations on the model and after dozens of different arrangements we finally came up with the present design.
At this point I have claim credit or demerit, whichever, for hole number fourteen, a double dogleg which I implanted on the design at an early state and had to argue very vigorously for on numerous occasions. From the time the model was made to the final decision took about two months.
The whole area of the course was still bush so as a first step we cleared a line down the centre of each fairway with a bulldozer so we could get a good visual perspective of each hole. An on the ground inspection by the Committee resulted in a few minor changes and adjustments to make better use of the contours. Following this the bulldozer cleared the fairways to their full width under supervision mainly by John Archibald who made decisions on various trees along the sides and in strategic place.
For example the goalposts on number eight. The bulldozer material was heaped into a giant windrow down the centre of each fairway about eight to ten metres wide. Burning it in this position improved the fertility of the area on which it stood and at the same time left the bush on either side undisturbed.
Following the burn then began the job of cleaning the fairways of residual roots and debris – the construction of the sand greens and the seeding and grassing operation. This was achieved by a series of busy bees many of which were attended by more than 50 members and associates and in a number of cases, their families as well.
Concurrently with this the original fairway reticulation system was installed together with a pump which was places on the river. The pump was a donation from Millars Timber and Trading Company of Yarloop. It was a large 100hp diesel engine mounted on iron wheels and connected to a six inch high capacity pump. It had not been used for years and the wheels were rusted to the axles and the motor reluctant to turn over.
However a couple of enterprising farm mechanics and three weeks work had it working perfectly.
The piping for the reticulation main lines was 6 inch concrete and was in the ground at Pinjarra along the South West Highway between the Town and the Satellite Town of what was called Tarcoola (Now North Pinjarra). This piping – about 4 miles of it was made available to the Club by Alcoa, providing we retrieved it ourselves.
Thus began another epic. With the help of one of our new members backhoe and a fleet of our farmers and builder members’ trucks and quite a few aching backs these pipes were transported back to Harvey – nearly 3000 of them. The laying of these pipes was again mainly carried out by volunteers and supervised by Len Taylor who had recently installed the pipes for the reticulation of the Town water supply. Len remained on for a while assisting with the establishment and maintenance of the course until George Thornton became our first official greenkeeper, Bar Manager and general provider of most of the services around the course.
A few years later, when the grass greens were established there was again a huge voluntary effort by members and this is a story in itself.
Firstly, the reticulation system we had only served the fairways and required extension and upgrading. The water supply in the Harvey River Diversion Drain was becoming unsatisfactory and at times could not meet the demand. Bores had to be established and new electric pumps installed. This required a substantial outlay in capital equipment which was expensive. The voluntary labour component was substantial but could only be applied to the installation of the pipe extensions and sprinkler systems. But with money raising efforts in the Club House and a very handsome contribution from the Associates it was achieved.
The grass greens themselves were constructed shaped and planted by a huge voluntary effort over two weekends.
The first weekend there were six trucks, four tractors with front end loaders, two tractors with blades and at least 4o members and associates. A sand pit was made on the left of the access road and on the left of No 3 fairway. About 60 to 80 cubic metres of sand was delivered to each green site and roughly spread. The second weekend required more manual labour and the greens were shaped and raked over, smoothed and all sticks and rubbish removed. Watering points were installed at each green.
Finally, once the water system was ready another big volunteer effort was mounted to collect trailer loads of wintergreen couch runners, spread them over the greens, roll them in and water them. All this work was supervised by Bill Watchman who at that time was greenkeeper at the new Binningup Course. He had considerable experience in grass green establishment. Much of this time was given voluntarily.
A conservative estimate of the value of voluntary work, the value of tractor work and equipment used, donations of materials etc. during the construction of the grass greens is well in excess of $100,000.00. This does not include the many busy bees that take place regularly on various aspects of course maintenance, clearing fallen trees, removing trees and rubbish, fertiliser spreading and many other jobs about the place that are done by individual members from time to time.
It is interesting to record here that the No 5 Golf Club on the commonage had on several occasions looked seriously at establishing grass greens and did in fact establish four as previously noted, but found the establishment for eighteen grass greens on the old Course impossibly expensive. One of the terms of reference of the New Course Committee included the possible establishment of grass greens on the new course at the outset.
The Committee during their deliberations made extensive enquiries at a number of Clubs in the State that had grass greens on their costs of establishment and maintenance. The best advise we could get at that time was, that to have and maintain 18 grass greens the Club needed in excess of 300 members and associates to be viable. ie, being able to afford the capital equipment and use paid labour for all the necessary work around the course and the club house.
On the strength of this information the Committee elected to start the new course on Myalup Road with sand greens. We had the expectation of increasing the membership over the next five years at which time grass greens would be viable. In the event, membership did not increase to the extent necessary. However the Club went ahead with the construction in the knowledge that it would depend on the good will and voluntary efforts of members and associates in bringing this about.
Our course has attracted wide acclaim by visiting golfers and many groups from various parts of the State and who now visit here on a regular basis.
I could not conclude this story of Golf in Harvey without paying tribute to all the Presidents, Captains and Committees, too many to mention individually who have guided this Club to where it is today. I have to also include the Associates, Presidents, Captains and Committees. Their contributions to the Club have been substantial and without which we would never have survived.
What has been achieved is remarkable and is due to so many individual efforts by our office bearers many of whom will always leave their stamp on a particular aspect of our Clubs progress. They could not have done what they did without the support of the members and associates.
To the future and one has to day that if the past is any guide this Club will have to continue to rely on their leadership and the support of the members and associates to maintain the high standard it has achieved and strive to improve the membership to the point of easing the financial strain of operating the club.
I would like to reflect on some of the issues that have affected Golf in Harvey over the years and which could relevant in future planning. So what started as a history of Golf in Harvey: in turn it could be possible to use this history to look at our future?
I will start with membership. When Golf started post World War 2 our Membership rose steadily and by 1952 when the Club achieved an 18 hole course the membership has grown steadily from around 45 Associates and 50 members in 1947 to 64 Associates and 120 Members. About 30 of our members were Social Members and did not play golf but made a significant contribution to the Bar takings and again at Social fixtures which were quite frequent in those days. The Club also owned a poker machine from 1948 to 1952 (before they were declared illegal). I recall one particular year when the profit from this one machine was 10,000 Pounds (At least $150,000 in today’s value). Following the demise of the poker machine and a severe loss of revenue the Club, bearing in mind the desire even then to work towards getting 18 grass greens launched a drive for more membership and this included a program of coaching Juniors. There were about a dozen enthusiastic boys (no girls). The result of that exercise was disappointing. I cannot recall any of those boys taking up golf in Harvey.
I do know that several of them went on to play golf but not in Harvey. The problem turned out to be that the majority of these boys after finishing school left to work elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if the same trend occurs with the boys and girls that Russel Upton trained and spent so much time with a couple of years ago.
Up until 1960 membership remained fairly constant at around the 1952 levels. From that point on there was a gradual decline in both Members and Associates. With the Members during this period we had about 11 school teachers playing golf and one by one they received transfers and their replacements did not play golf: also most of the Social members left us. We also suspected that the course itself had a lot to do with it. Our dream of grass greens was not being realised and the steep terrain was also taking its toll. With the Associates, their decline in numbers was due in the main to women moving in to the work force in large numbers. During the 60s the number of women in the work force moved from about 5% to 25% by 1970. These factors had a lot to do with the decision to move to a new course.
Having built the new course and subsequently the grass greens the Club was fairly sure that membership would grow but it has not happened to the extent we would have expected. The Club has done a great job in holding membership fees down to a respectable level and I feel sure that our present membership fees are a selling point rather than a disadvantage. So the question remains. How can we build up membership? In today’s environment there are a lot of competitive form of recreation, far more than during the 50s and 60s. It means therefore that we have to compete more vigorously for our share of the sporting cake. The Club needs more Members and we need more Associates.
The course we have is as good as it can get with the current membership. In fact it is a remarkable achievement to think that viability has been maintained without reaching that magic figure of 300 Members and Associates. In earlier days the licenced bar was a good money spinner but the advent of the drink driving laws has put paid to that and profits very modest. So in fact viability has only been maintained through the efforts of successive Club office bearers and committees – the Associates – and the many contributions and voluntary efforts of the members.
While we remained with the current membership these voluntary efforts will have to continue. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that the Club will need to maintain a high level of management – a high level of support from the members – and above all – a spirit of good will and understanding by our Members and Associates – and above all a love of this game of golf which has been given to Harvey for the last 73 years.
In looking to the future, then it might be a good idea to see what can be done about boosting membership. It would make life so much easier.