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22 Oct 2018

A brief history of golf down under

Golf has come a long way since its possible ancient Roman inception and eventual establishment in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland more than half a millennium ago. From a game that distracted a nation from their military duties to the hailed sport it is today, it is safe to say that golf has always captured the unwavering enthusiasm of its players. When golf finally made a splash in the colonies, in the 1830s, it quickly gained in popularity in Australia.

The oldest remaining golf course outside of Scotland

Interestingly, while golf was so popular in Scotland that it had to be banned for 45 years on 6 March 1457  for the sake of the country’s military, it failed to incite quite the same enthusiasm elsewhere. Over the next couple of hundred years, golf remained the passion of the Scottish. This is, until a young pioneering family migrated from Scotland to our shores and started a farm in Bothwell, Tasmania. Ratho Farm established Australia’s first ever golf course, which to this day remains the oldest existing course outside of Scotland. So, began Australia’s love affair with this game.

Laying down roots in Australia

There is some discrepancy about where and when the first official game was played. Some suggest it was at the Flagstaff Hill Golf Club in Melbourne in 1847, while others boast Grose Farm in Sydney in May 1839 was the first recorded. Either way, it was not long before golf became a popular game for the colonies and their newest migrants. According to Golf NSW, The Australian Golf Club at Kensington is the oldest active club in Australia.

Moore Park had a role in the earliest golf in NSW

Centennial Parklands’ own slice of the wildly popular golfing pie, Moore Park Golf Course, is one of the loveliest courses in NSW and has been operating for nearly 90 years. While Moore Park Golf Course was not established until years later in 1926, the grounds themselves were used for many sporting events.

In fact, the members of the oldest established club, The Australian Golf Club were known to play golf at Moore Park as early as 1882. At the time Moore Park was home to the Zoological Gardens among other things. Imagine, having a round of golf, moments from a bear pit or elephant house.

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Moore Park was once home to the Zoological Gardens.

The turn of the century saw more than Federation

The Australian Golf Union was established in 1898 to help govern the burgeoning clubs around the country, but it was the turn of the century when the game really picked up.
While Australia as a whole celebrated Federation in 1901, golf in Australia was establishing some of its longest running associations and championships. On a national level, the first Men’s Australian Open was held in 1904 at The Australian Golf Club and has grown exponentially ever since.

This was followed closely by the establishment of the Australian PGA Championship only a year later. While the official championships early on were available only for men, women were equally enthusiastic about the game and established groups and associations to accommodate this.

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NSW Golf in the twentieth century

Before Federation, NSW golf was governed by the two parents of golf in this state, the Australian Golf Club and Royal Sydney Golf Club, established in 1893. A wider governing body, the Suburban and Country Golf Association of NSW was set up in 1902 to encourage and build the game throughout the state. Throughout the twentieth century golf continued to grow in popularity and the governing bodies grew with it. Before long, it became more than just a game for the country’s elite.

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Moore Park – bringing golf to the masses

For many years, golf was seen as the “gentleman’s game”. Society’s elite were the only ones who could afford the cost to play in these exclusive clubs. In a bid to enable the sport to be enjoyed by the rest of the population Duncan McMillan tirelessly lobbied the Sydney City Council to establish a public course. In 1913, he got his wish and the first nine-hole public access golf course was established. The Moore Park Municipal Golf Links were established, and from there the course was handed over to the club.
After nine years, the course was expanded to a full 18-hole course. In celebrating this McMillan and his band of golf enthusiasts established the Moore Park Golf Club in 1922. Over the years the Moore Park Golf Club has had many facelifts to become the stunning course it is today, but one thing remains certain, those involved continue to celebrate McMillan’s legacy to bring the game to the people.
Golf is now one of the most popular sports in this fine country, and we now boast 1,530 courses throughout Australia. Golf itself contributes billions of dollars towards our economy and continues to be a game enjoyed by all walks of life.

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Golf Month at Moore Park Golf

Throughout Golf Month in October, Moore Park Golf is hosting a number of shareable offers to help new players get into the game. Take advantage of kids playing free, by one get one deals and much more here. 

Category: Golf
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