In 1960 Mr Len Randall, proprietor of the Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel opened a private golf course on a 5 acre parcel of Crown land on the fringe of the Tomaree National Park as an added attraction for patrons of the Hotel.
It was subsequently offered to the newly formed Tomaree Golf Club for 15,000 pounds in 1961. The Club has continued on for over 60 years and is now the present Nelson Bay Golf Club.
It has grown from humble beginnings of a nine hole golf course to the now a 27 hole course with a magnificent purpose built Clubhouse for golfers, social events and functions.
Its popularity as a golf course nestled within beautiful bushland, yet close by the sea is testament to the fact that we are one of the busiest golf courses in NSW.
A brief history of Nelson Bay Golf Club since its beginning over 55 years ago is outlined in the decades below:
1960′s – The Beginning
The idea to form a golf club in Nelson Bay came from the then Proprietor of the Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel in neighbouring Shoal Bay, Len Randall. He was interested in a 5 acre parcel of Crown Land at Tomaree which would become suitable for a golf course.
Subsequently, Len Randall, Benjamin Norburn and John Carroll, formed a company named “Tomaree Golf Links Pty Ltd” with the object of acquiring suitable land and creating a golf playing facility. A lease of land on the Club’s present site was obtained from the Lands Department and work commenced.
The first nine holes were designed by Mr Ray McKinlay, who was the Professional at the Merewether Golf Club. Construction was completed by volunteer labour with some larger areas being cleared by machinery. Equipment consisted of a small grey Ferguson Tractor and a set of gang mowers; water was pumped from spear points in the swamp north of Dowling St and power came from a diesel motor.
With the first 7 holes completed, the first ball was hit from the first tee by Toby Mills, the Club’s Surveyor on Australia Day, 26th January 1961.
The course was described at the time as “pretty rough, lots of sand patches but the greens are good.” It is also noted that at the time, many players used coloured balls to more easily find them on the sandy fairways.
By 1962, the Club’s membership comprised 103 men & 68 women. In October of that year the Club’s first committee was formed. Comprising of eleven members, the President was Jack Hancock, Loftus Chalmers as Club Captain and Len Randall as Patron.
The Clubhouse was a fibro-clad building incorporating a men’s and a ladies change room with a pan system toilet attached. The members later constructed a lean to shed made from bush timber and second hand galvanised iron which was a basic communal area used after golf. One of the first jobs of the Committee was deciding to build a more presentable Clubhouse. The shed was eventually replaced with a permanent, brick Clubhouse in 1963 which cost approximately $12,400. The Clubhouse saw several additions during the 1960’s.
When the new Clubhouse opened in 1963 it was licensed and had poker machines installed. Eileen Mitchell was able to do some basic catering for the members.
A Bar Manager was soon employed after its opening and directors worked on a roster to assist with serving beers etc. It was in 1966 when the first full time Secretary Manager was employed.
With the new Clubhouse and the growing popularity of the area, it wasn’t long before talk of extending the course to 18 holes began. Towards the end of 1960’s under the guidance of President Geoff Elliott a team of workers began clearing the land.
With construction of the original nine-hole golf course the natural environment of the national park was altered. The creation and continual improvement of grass covered fairways, created a food source and open range, attracting both kangaroos and wallabies. They became quite a feature of the Club but unfortunately bushfires, dogs and encroaching habitation saw them gradually disappear with the last kangaroo being sighted in the 1980’s.