I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published June 25th 2018
Relax with a game of golf
I've been spending a fair bit of time at the Victoria Park Golf Club recently. I haven't been playing golf. I've been waiting to pick up a friend from hospital appointments.
Parking at the Royal Brisbane and Women's hospital is very expensive. When I remembered how close the Golf Club was to the hospital, I started going there after dropping off my friend for their appointment. It is relaxing. I usually buy coffee or a glass of wine and read the paper while I wait to get a call to pick up my friend. If it is a long visit, I buy lunch.
I had visited the Golf Club on Herston Road previously when I worked in Butterfield Street across the road from the main hospital entrance. A group of us used to go to the bistro there for lunch or for drinks after work sometimes. I've also been there for dinner events.
Victoria Park Golf Club opened as a nine-hole municipal golf course and clubhouse on 20th November 1931 as Brisbane's first public access golf course. The golf course and clubhouse opened with support from the Brisbane City Council and Lord Mayor William Jolly, who became the inaugural president.
The course used to be known as a goat's course because of all its hills and crags. A story in the Courier Mail on Friday 24th July 1936, said it is now regarded as a long markers' paradise. At that time fifty or more relief workers were engaged in improving the course. The article stated Victoria Park has been described as the best municipal course in Australia, but the terrain makes an unduly long round tiring. The course was improved by extensive tree planting.
The 18-hole golf course is very impressive now. As well as a world-class golf course, it also has a putt putt course, large children's playground and venues for events such as weddings and conferences. There is a large bistro area with wood fired pizzas, city views and a bar. It has the following facilities: 18-hole golf course (par is 65, and is 3908 metres in length), 61 bay, two tier day and night driving range, 18 hole mini-golf course (putt putt), golf shop and retail store, eight unique function spaces, bar and bistro, children's playground, on-site car parking, golf clinics for adult, juniors and seniors tees and greens that meet PGA construction standards. There are over 1,000 individual events each year and more than 300,000 people visit the site each year.
On a recent visit, I saw a lot of Kelvin Grove State College students at the golf course. My son attended that school and used to play golf there. The College has a golf excellence program and my son was invited to join the program when he was at school, but he chose not to join. He told me recently he didn't have a passion for golf when he was at school, although he loves playing now.
Personally, I never got into golf. I only ever played it once. I was living in beautiful Port Fairy, a small seaside town in South West Victoria. Some friends came down from Melbourne to visit us. They were keen golfers so we took them to the local golf club for a game. It was a lovely golf club right beside the sea. Unfortunately, I found that game very stressful. I kept thinking I was going to get hit in the back of the head by people coming up behind me on the course. I was probably too slow. I do know people get obsessed with golf. My aunt, uncle and cousins in Tasmania used to get up early every weekend to go and play golf. I didn't like staying over at their house because I liked to sleep in on weekends.
I have been to St Andrews in Scotland where golf began. I did look at the golf course there, but was more interested in the antique shops. I still have some antique tortoiseshell hair clips I bought there many years ago.
The Society of St Andrews Golfers was founded in 1754 by the Royal and Ancient Club, which included 22 noblemen, professors and landowners. It became the foremost golf club in the world and now governs the rules of golf everywhere except the USA. Golf has been played on the Links at St Andrews since around 1400 AD, and the Old Course is renowned throughout the world as the Home of Golf.
Victoria Park Golf Club has also had an interesting history. On 9 May 1935 some golfers saw a fox. It surprised them seeing the fox only two miles from the Brisbane GPO. The players told a Courier Mail reporter they were playing the tenth hole when they saw the fox run between the green and Herston Road. They thought the fox found its way from a rural area and hid in thick scrub there. People often saw hares on the golf course, and the men thought the fox probably preyed on the hares.
There has even been a murder on the golf course. A dead man was found floating in a small, tree shaped pool in a fenced off section at Victoria Park Golf Club in September, 1952. Walter Alexander Hall, a 60-year-old homeless man, who had been camping by the pool had not drowned. He died from head wounds.
Another man died on the golf course of natural causes. In August 1938 a bookmaker's clerk, Thomas Tilden Spence collapsed and died during a game of golf. Mr Spence was playing in front of four bookmakers, Harold Fay, William Danaher, Joseph Webb and James Watson. They heard him call out and went to him. He was sitting on the 18th green, near Herston Road. By the time an ambulance arrived, he had died from a heart condition.
The heritage-listed former clubhouse at 309 Herston Road, was designed by Reyburn Jameson and built in 1931. It was extended in 1939 and 1948. It was known as the Pink Palace, after a nightclub, which operated out of the building in the late 1970s and 1980s. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 17 December 1999. The Mental Illness Fellowship of Queensland now has offices in the building.
The Victoria Park Golf Complex was opened in 2002 with a simple focus on golf and small events. Over the next 16 years the complex has expanded to house a two-tiered driving range, 18 hole putt putt course, 8 stunning event spaces, al fresco Bar & Bistro with adjacent terrace, kids playground, and a cutting edge Golf Learning Centre.
I can understand why people love their golf. It is good exercise and is great to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. It is very social too. I've seen happy groups of women, men and children having a good time on the golf course. I prefer bushwalking and kayaking, but maybe one day I will have another go at playing golf. Maybe I should wear a crash helmet.