Royal Park Golf Club, Parkville – Nursery to a five time British Open winner …. yes really!

I was always crap at sport. Throw a ball at me, and my instinct is to duck. But fortunately, with golf it’s not like that at all. You walk up to a ball, hit it, walk up to it, and hit it again until you get it into the cup. For 18 holes, unless you are lazy (like me) and only play 9 holes.

So back in 1999, when Jon and I moved to a rented apartment in Manningham Street, Parkville, we decided to join the Royal Park Golf Club and enjoy the small, 9 hole course very close to where we lived.

And it was in December 1999 that as we came off the 9th hole that overlooked The Avenue, we noticed a brand new building that had 3 apartments left for sale and decided that the one on the 2nd floor would be our new home … and only 171 metres to the first tee. Perfect.

I left playing 18 holes with the Club on Sunday morning to Jon and joined the lads as they were coming off the front 9 for the last 9 holes. The thought of getting up at 6.30am on a Sunday morning was more than I could bear. It was in 2002 that I realised the Club had been going since 1903 and got my librarian self into action and wrote the history of the Club.

This led me to meeting Peter Thomson, who kindly wrote the forward to the booklet and attended the book launch and Centenary Weekend in 2003. And led me to realise what a nursery the course was for players such as Gus Jackson and Mick Ryan, and many more. But none were more famous than 5 times British Open winner Peter Thomson, sneaking onto the course at the age of 13, during WW2 and making the club change its rules on the age of Club junior membership from 15 to 13. Peter left the Club in 1946 to join Victoria Golf Club, where his career really took off.

The course at Royal Park has changed a lot in the past 112 years, and in the last 10 years the Melbourne City Council have put in a lot of time, money and effort into the maintenance of the course. Luckily, they can’t sell it, due to it being on crown land (or so they say). I am pretty sure it is still the only golf course on the planet with both a train and tram line going through it.

In July 2013 Jon passed away from biliary cancer and we scattered his ashes at both the Whitten Oval (huge Doggies fan, used to play in the Hyde Street band in the 1960s and 1970s) and at the base of the largest gum tree to the left of the 6th tee, where he got his one and only hole-in-one back in 2004. I have yarnbombed this tree recently with Doggies scarves and am working on another project for the tree.

I am still a member of the Sunday morning VGL club (who happened to win both their Handicap and Seniors Pennant finals in 2015) and am still their only female member (and web-mistress). I don’t play on Sunday mornings with the Club though and haven’t for years, except for special events. I play early on a Monday or Friday morning with a friend I used to work with at the State Library of Victoria and we play what I call Zen golf. We chat, hit, walk, watch the birdlife, listen to the lions roar and baboons yell at the zoo and don’t keep score. Don’t make me do maths!

I’ll leave you with a quote from Willy Nelson.

With music, as with golf, he says “If you care too much, you’ll screw up every time”

About Denise

Yvette's little sister.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Well done Denise. Nice story!


  2. Steve Hodder says

    Royal Park is my favourite local course. Putt out on the first, listen to the lions roar, cross the train tracks, struggle up the hill to the second green, big dog leg to the left for the third, cross the tram tracks to tee off for the 7th, navigate another dog leg on the 8th and then back across the train tracks for the last , sneaky, hole. You’re right, can’t think of any other course quite like it. I don’t keep count either.


  3. Chris Meegan says

    What a fantastic fabric we have of different people at Royal Park, the golf and surroundings are a great bonus for those of us lucky enough to to know people like you and Jon

  4. DefinitelyNotJimmy says

    Royal Park… love/hate that place. I’ve destroyed at least 8 clubs in my various fits of Draught-fuelled rage but I keep coming back! Watch out for the bees and doggers!

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