Almanac Golf: Another day





You drive the perimeter of the old course, past the cute little par three 17th, the green (they were sand scrapes then) nestling between the pinus radiata; the long par four 16th over the hill; the 203-yard par three 6th where you holed in one with a shot that nobody saw (not even yourself) as it was nearly dusk, you were playing alone and found the ball in the cup; the long(ish) par four 5th where you finally won a hole in match play after losing the first four in your junior championship final against the South Australian country champion, but then after birdies here and there mounted a challenge which ended in a noble defeat at the last hole.


You stopped the car and looked across the fifth fairway to where the three she-oak trees (that made a curiously whistling sound in a slight breeze) used to mark the main division between the 5th and 7th holes but were no longer visible. The staked trees that were less than a club length high (and from which you could take a drop) were now massive eucalypts and a wayward drive would be oh, so, much more severely punished.


You entered the clubhouse, you’d only been back a couple of times in fifty-plus years, and it would be good to check out the honour boards, the old names rendered in gold leaf, the club presidents and secretaries to be sure, but more importantly the names that mattered, the club champions and the winners of that other big event.


Beginning in 1948 the Lower Murray Open’s winners included South Australian amateur champions, SA country champions, state players, leading pennant golfers from the city, and modestly (he writes) yours truly’s name somehow among them. You longed to find the board prominently displayed (as it had been) above the bar, a position of honour.


Except. No longer. You think of history and how sports clubs manage their history. The honour boards, the gold leaf was elegant, a proper tribute to the past, the champions and the great servants of the club, but who have become casualties of cost-cutting measures which regard tacky and inconsistent engraving – font, size, order – on cheap laminate that adheres (or not) to a backing board as good enough. Good? No. Enough? No. Honoured? No. You feel inclined to ask for your name to be removed from the list.


It’s a chastening experience. You go talk to the pro, tell him about the old days, he says the course now demands tight drives, you say you’ll walk a few holes, assess the changes.


The short par four 10th is more open, the tiny par three 11th was only a nine-iron but perhaps an eight (or even a seven) now as a concession to age, the uphill par three 2nd is a three wood from the tee or maybe a driver these days. You love the lookout from the 3rd tee, you like to retain the measurement in yards (433) because it sounded more impressive when at sixteen you could brag about hitting a drive and a (deliberately bladed) sand iron past the scrape.


You note with dismay the filling in of the small quarry in front of the 15th tee which would catch a topped drive or a slice from the 16th tee; the removal of the sandy hollows and mounds in front of the 18th tee which again would penalize a topped drive; and the absence of the nutweed (that used to tangle itself around irons), onion weed and tussocks that offered extra challenges in the rough.


You return to the pro and tell him that the course is wonderfully manicured but you wonder whether it’s been overdone. It’s tighter and more attractive yet some of the older, tougher elements could have been retained. You can still see birdie opportunities and particularly at the dogleg par four 9th where it remains easy to drive near the 10th tee and get down in two from there.


So, are you having a round?’, he asks.


‘Another day’, you say, ‘and that’s a promise!’.



More from Bernard Whimpress can be read Here.



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About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).


  1. John Harms says

    Thanks Bernard.

    Even the relatively basic bush golf courses have a few nicely designed holes among the up-and-backs cut out of the bush.

    Change can be confronting. Perhaps most confronting is the par 3 ninth at Oakey, a photo of which appears towards the end of this piece.

    No longer the glorious hole it was, De-commissioned, and overgrown. The memory will have to do.

  2. Lovely wistful memories Bernard. I often fantasise/dream (literally) about a trip back to Yorketown, Wool Bay (is the course still there?) and Kadina golf courses where I “learned” to play. All oiled slag scrapes and unirrigated, with preferred lies for winter play only. I can still remember the configuration of Yorketown 55 years ago, but others have faded into just a few memorable tests.
    A road trip back to my teenage years, but no-one I still know from those times to share it with. Up for a hit?

  3. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks John for those golf memories of yours and especially the great draw with the 4 wood. The memories of those shots last forever.
    And Peter, happy to have a hit sometime, even on scrapes – putting is so easy.

  4. Mark Poustie says

    Hi Bernard, as one who grew up playing scrapes really enjoyed this. Putting was so easy then – line up the hole and bang away. And oh the smug joy of watching a grass green coddled mate, playing scrapes for the first time, strike a beautifully lofted pitching wedge landing 2 metres from the pin…….and bouncing a further 20 metres over the back of the green into the mulga !

  5. Barry Nicholls says

    Nice reflective writing BW.

  6. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks Mark and liked that smug joy. I remember after playing many years at North Adelaide GC we made a club visit to Moonta. On the first couple of holes I did something similar to your city mate with wedge shots that didn’t stop. Thereafter I turned back the clock, pulled out a 7 iron and played chip and run shots. I didn’t hit the ball well but finished with the second best score off the stick – just a couple over par.

  7. Bernard Whimpress says

    Cheers Barry

  8. John Harms says

    Mulga. Great word.

    In Oakey we were more wilga and brigalow. You don’t get them beauties at Augusta.

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