Golf History

History of the Fisho’s Golf Club

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The Start

It was around mid-1989 (you remember, back when the Club was run properly) and a coup was developing in the Gerroa area (nothing changes much, does it?).  A group of “sportspeople” (back then the term hadn’t even been invented) had decided that it was time to form a breakaway group in order that they could play golf once a month away from the Cronin Pub mob that they had been playing with till then.

The exact reason for this decision is lost in the dim mists of history. Some have suggested that certain people were sick and tired of others claiming victory on match days by conveniently losing their card out of the back of the Ute and then “re-scoring” their card back at the Pub. But the generally accepted rationale for this momentous move was, basically, the agitators were too bloody lazy to get up and drive a few kilometres and then play 18 holes of golf during the crisp mornings of a Sunday.

You see, in those days (as in fact happens now), the Pub would play at courses up and down the coast. As anyone who has been involved in trying to get a game on a Sunday at the more popular courses would have found, the hit-off times available are usually around sun-up. This would mean the good folk of Gerroa were getting up before “sparrows”, driving to wherever, playing golf on wet and dewy fairways and greens and then driving back to the Pub for the BBQ and presentation (and cheating as mentioned earlier).

Thus was the GBFC Social Golf Section spawned and, on the 30th July, 1989, the first ever official game took place (more about that later).

The ring-leaders are well known simply because they filled the office bearer’s roles from Day One. To the best of my knowledge and after extensive research, no election or discussion ever took place to appoint these people into their respective roles, it was just accepted that they would do the job (an interesting analogy being that to my knowledge there has been only one vote on this matter during the 13-year history of the Group and that was “a vote to decide if we were going to have a vote”, the result being a resounding NO by something like 48 to nil).

Those initial leaders (the First Reich, if you will) were:

Frank “Curly” Murton – President

Jack “Noddy” Walsh – Handicapper

Clyde “Coppo” Copley – Treasurer

It is to these three men that an enormous debt is owed by everyone that now enjoys the Golf days put on by the Club.

Frank was a devoted fisherman firstly but he also gave huge support to all the “sub-groups” in the Club. During my research, it was suggested that no-one actually could figure out what Frank did as part of his role, he just took the title and did nothing (amazing really, as much as things change, they really stay the same).

Jack was the person who developed the basic idea that the group should be based on “social” first, golf ability second. His handicapping system was designed to spread the winners as broadly as possible amongst the players and it worked (somebody else we know has “re-invented” this attitude since taking on the handicapper’s role and this return to those early days is, in no small way, a reason the Section continues to grow).

Coppo? Well Coppo was just Coppo. To all the people who have begun playing with us since February 1998, the single biggest thing you have missed out on was not knowing this bloke. Most of the information I will give in this “potted history” comes from the records I inherited from Coppo. Everybody who knew him will have a wealth of stories to tell you about him (all of them good). But it is Coppo you can blame for having me do what I do with the Golf Section because it was he that “bequeathed’ the role to me.

The First Game

As said earlier, the first game of the Gerroa Boat Fisherman’s Golf section took place on Sunday, the 30th July 1989.

There were 20 players but unfortunately who those twenty were are unknown (although if I was to ask around the Club, I am certain I would come up with around 50 people who would claim to have been one of them).

The records show some interesting costs for the day:


1 Dozen Golf Balls, $24.00

Noel prizes + golf ball, $17.00

4 Bread, $ 5.50

1 Butter, $ 1.60

Onions, $ 1.50

Paid to Club, $40.00

Meat, $40.60

Raffle Books, $ 1.60

A further expense is noted as “$32 Curly”. I can’t work out what this entry was for (perhaps it was the start of the graft and corruption that the Section has become famous for – my house extensions are going really well thanks!!).

So the total Expenses for the first golf day came to a grand total of $163.80.

Against that cost, the players paid $7 for the game and the BBQ. Therefore, the Net Result for the day was a LOSS of $23.80.

I didn’t start playing with the Group until around mid-1991, so I had to get an idea of what that first day was like by asking a few of the “survivors” about it. My thanks, in particular, to Marg Copley and Wazza Wearne for their remembrances (although how the hell I can trust Wazza’s memory is beyond me, the bastard can’t remember my name half the time, let alone Lois’s, and he sees me about every week).

If you had turned up that day, you would have congregated around the old tin shed, a beautiful rustic (or is that rusted) green it was too.

No doubt at some time Gordon Hulme would have come out of the shed, beer in hand and already three parts to the wind. Gordon has now totally changed his life around (and good luck to him) but if you didn’t get a laugh out of Gordon in those days, you had to be brain dead.

The course layout was totally different to today’s format. For a start it was only nine holes, which is what it was when I started playing there. But when I started, the nine holes were what is now the back nine (with a few greens having now undergone some significant changes).

In June ’89, however, the course looked completely different (this information was obtained from several people including Ian “Tooly” Godfrey and any discrepancy is mine alone).

The 1st was slightly South of the hedge hiding the toilet block today. I am told that some hay bales were put down to mark the tee block and that it was a Par 3, playing towards the “middle” of the course. The 2nd was a Par 5 with the tee adjacent to the hedge that has just been cut down (to the left of the current first fairway). The green was just west of the now “Bill Miller” dam (the first dam you go over on the 4th today). From there, for the 3rd, you came back from the western edge of the dam to roughly where the first green is today and this was a Par 4.

The 4th was a Par 3 over what is now the dam in front of the 11th. The only difference was that back then it was not a dam, just a gully full of blackberry thorns and “as rough as guts”. Apparently you then walked up the hill to around about where the current fifth green is to play another Par 3 where, if you over hit, you would go over the cliff.

The 6th was a Par 5, teeing off from sort of half way up the hill on the current fifth fairway. You would have to hit over Bill Williamson’s Dam (the one in front of the 4th green today) and then over Bill Miller’s Dam to reach the green. The 7th was a Par 4 more or less following the line of the current 14th. I asked Tooly which green was supposedly so steep that you could “14 putt” it without difficulty. He reckoned that was about every one of them but did confirm it was this 7th that was the one. Apparently you could putt, miss the hole and just wait because the ball would come back to you (thank Christ I didn’t play on this course, I don’t think I would have had a club left in the bag). The 8th was a Par 3 and I get the impression it was roughly from where the 15th tee is today.

Whoever designed the 9th and last hole must have been a bigger bastard than I. It was a Par 5 and you hit off from just this side of Bill Miller’s Dam, virtually straight up the hill, past where the machinery shed stands today, finishing around about where the 18th green is today. Called “Coronary Hill” for obvious reasons, this was the first hole “designed out” of the next phase of the course’s development.

I don’t know who had the honour of being the first to hit off, nor do I know who won the day but whatever, it was back to the Club for the real part of the day (the BBQ and some beer).

In those days, the BBQ was held essentially where the Restaurant is built now. Seating comprised of logs pulled up or the ground (your choice). Wazza was the cook (you would reckon after this amount of time he would have got it right) and snags and steak on bread were the fare.

For that first game it would seem that golf balls were given out as prizes. This was to change not long after to actual “gifts” and, again, Wazza was the original “Purchasing Officer” (that goes a long way to understanding why Home Brew containers featured so prominently on the list. By the time I started playing, if you won you could take the Home Brew and give it to Wazza who would make up a batch and you would get a “Baker’s Dozen” – 13 large bottles – in return).

And so the first ever game of the Fisho’s Social Golf had been played.

And here we are, 13 years on, celebrating what those original 20 players started. Many of the original 20 are no longer with us, having either moved way or, unfortunately, passed on (but then, as they say, the only sure things on this earth are death, taxes and not scoring any points on the 4th).

But over the years a lot of things have happened to the Group as it has evolved and the following is a sort of “Timeline” of events (some good, some funny and some sad) that have marked this development. I hope it brings back a few memories for some people.

The Fisho’s Social Golf Timeline

  • July 1989 – group of people decide to start playing a 9 hole monthly comp at Gerringong rather than travel to play with the Pub. The original committee is formed with Frank “Curly” Murton as President, Jack “Noddy” Walsh as Handicapper and Clyde “Coppo” Copley as Treasurer (the First Reich is under way)
  • 30th July 1989 – the first game is played with 20 starters
  • 4th February 1990 – the first game washed out. The players adjourn to the Club where a Bowls and Darts Day is held instead and (apparently) a putting competition forms part of the activities
  • 17th June 1990 – a notation in the Books shows one expense item as “Drinks for Cook $10”. Alongside the entry is the bracketed notation “Blame Brian Gray”
  • 16th September 1990 – at the bottom of the month’s entries is the note “Holding $60 trophies & 5kg Rissoles for next game” – must have been awkward and I hope Coppo at least put the Rissoles in the fridge for the month
  • 21st July 1991 – month’s entries are headed by the announcement “Non Golf Club Members to pay Green Fees by Order of Brian Gray (Golf Club Capt)” Yep, that’s right, the same arsehole who happily gave away the Section’s money above.
  • 15th November 1992 – entry at bottom of page (the Section ran a Bank Account at the time) “Bank Book $488.16, Plus Interest $59.75, *State Duty .02 (2 cents)” – maybe it wasn’t just the Club that was run properly!
  • 20th December 1992 – the first reference to the annual Club subsidy to the Golf Section – $200.
  • 17th October 1993 – first entry of “Tri Sports Cash Allocation $61” plus another bit of income from “Caulfield Raffle Share $30”
  • 15th May 1994 – Bank Account closed (I would have done it later anyway, too hard to hide things with that sort of “formal arrangement”)
  • 16th July 1995 – T. Plowright wins Lucky Draw
  • 10th September 1995 – P. Anderson wins Lucky Draw
  • 18th February 1996 – notation of “$50 Travel Voucher Donated by G. Goddard. Won By I. Buckland” (Greg, I think I’ve still got it, can I cash it in?)
  • 15th December 1996 – notation in Expenses “H/Cap Appreciation (J. Walsh) $11” – bloody Coppo must have got a couple of shots back!!
  • 19th January 1997 – notation at bottom of page $50 Travel Voucher from G. Goddard (K. Morris)”. This is the first reference to Kevin in the books.
  • December 1997 – after eight and a half years of doing the job, Jack Walsh calls it a day and hands over the handicapping role to Wayne Fell
  • 15th February 1998 – 16 players played this month. This is the last month’s entry into the books by Coppo as, later that month, the whole community is saddened by his death after a battle against illness
  • March 1998 – for the first time, Wayne Fell and myself became the Second Reich. To say it was a hard act to follow is an understatement. I don’t think Wayne would disagree with my saying that because of what had just happened over the last couple of months, the Section was potentially doomed. The heart and soul had gone out of the Section and, over the next few months, the attendances dropped alarmingly. From May to October 1998, the numbers were 14,12,17,no play,11 and 11.
  • October 1998 – an appeal is made to the 11 players to decide if they really wanted the Golf Section to continue. The money was drying up fast and it was getting to the stage that without an infusion of new blood, the Section would have to fold and a few of the “regulars” just play a sort of informal arrangement. The decision was made at the time (although this is the first time any of you would have heard about it) that if the numbers could not be got up to around a “20 average” by February 1999, a big “wake” was to be played in March and all the money held used for one big final fling. Also at that time a number of changes (or initiatives) were adopted to try and keep the “ship afloat”. For instance, the prizes that had been given out were dispensed with and replaced by giving out golf balls only and the $20 Lucky Draw replaced by golf balls as well. Both Wayne and I knew at the time that this was going to cause a backlash (and it did) as many people seemed to have come to the conclusion that it was their “right” to these things.
  • The numbers start to rise as the “hard core” of players start virtually “dragging” people to the course. November 1998 to March 99 attendances were 21,28,23,20 and 21 respectively.
  • February 1999 – the first reference to the Social Golf group holding a Seafood Raffle
  • Winter 1999 – must have been a bad one because suddenly the numbers dropped again, with June (12 players), July (no play due to rain) and August (14 players) throwing us backwards when some sort of “recovery” seemed to be happening.
  • December 1999 – 20 players turn up for the Christmas game
  • March 2000 – Wayne Fell goes to Dubbo for job reasons and Kevin Morris takes over as Handicapper (the Third Reich begins)
  • June 2000 – after a couple of months of 14 players, June suddenly sees 29 players hit the course. June also marks the first time the Group has a Spit Roast for lunch (I think there’s a parallel there somewhere). Whilst some people suggest the Spit is just “showing off”, the only trouble is a “blue” between two guys over who’s going to get the last snag (which were only put on for the kids anyway)
  • December 2000 – the numbers hold around the 30 mark until the Christmas game when 41 players (a new month record) front up. This game also marks the first time the Christmas lunch is catered for by the Club Restaurant and also the first time shirts and caps are given out (all players who played nine games got a shirt and two games got you a cap). The shirts were a “sky blue” and apparently not very good quality. 17 shirts and 45 caps are given out
  • February 2001 – boosted by the Bradbury Inn mob, a new monthly record is set at 49 players
  • 2001 actually has four months exceeding 40 players (February, July, October and December). In total 450 “player games” are racked up
  • December 2001 – the new shirt colour is red (and a better quality). Again nine games for a shirt but, this year, four games were needed for a cap. Twenty shirts and 46 caps are given out. December also marks the first Edition of “In the Hole”, the Group’s own newsletter, put together most admirably by Tony “Goebbels” (but he looks more like “Göring”) Simmons
  • January 2002 – the month marks a major milestone when for the first time, over 50 players (53 in total) face the starter. This is also the first time that the GBFC Dummy Spit Award is given out, won by the aforementioned editor
  • April 2002 – the Section enters new territory when Gordon Spring of Gordon Spring Earthmoving pays $300 to become the first Corporate Sponsor of a month’s event
  • July 2002 – More people become sponsors of our club i.e. Tony Simmons company
  • July 2002 – 13th Anniversary of the start of the social golf club was celebrated, with original players of first game as invited guests and players. A great day was had by all. And a new trophy was created for this special day to be played for each July. This is called the Wazza Wearne Trophy. We also have 58 players on this day, a new record for the club.
  • Sept 2002 – Game was sponsored by Geoff McDonalds Company, was also met by some sad news that Ian Buckland the Fuhrer was stepping down and going into his bunker with his Wife and hounds for a while. We wished him well with sad hearts.
  • Oct 2002-    See a new team of volunteers take up the reins in the form of Kevin Morris. And John Harriden and Doug McCallum take up the financial side of the club and a new Bank Account opened with the A.N.Z. in Gerringong. Tony Simmons helping our loveable Handicapper with the cards, and also takes on the roll of new awards master. Our great cooks Tom Plowright, Ted Schuler and caterers Jenny Plowright and Shortie Schuler still doing what they do so well.
  • Oct 2002- Also see 8 out of the 9 Directors to the G.B.F.C. elected at its yearly A.G.M. be active in our Golf Club every month. Not a bad representation for our social group.
  • Dec 2002- Xmas lunch held at club after the game Our 3 Sponsors for the year receive a trophy for their support, and the now infamous golf shirts for the year are handed out to the 51 players who ordered them ( Fluoro Orange).
  • Jan 2003- The Fuhrer re-emerges and starts playing again. Couldn’t stay away hey Ian.
  • April 2003- See this years 1st sponsored game played with 55 players and our competition now divided into A/B Grades and Ladies sections for the yearly point scores. And trophies for such monthly comps handed out when that month is sponsored.
  • April also sees another member sponsoring our games. We now have a total of 7 sponsors paying $300 each for our monthly games, names as below
  • SPONSORS FOR 2003 @ $ 300.00 each
  • Gordon Spring Earthmoving Company
  • Jeff McDonald Bodeen &Oceanic Constructions
  • Gerroa Shores Holiday Park
  • Fishos Club
  • Autumn Solar Pool Heating (Tony Simmons)
  • Steve Jarvis Printing Services
  • W.T.W Bricklaying (Wade Jackson, Travis Dollar and Ox
  • May 2003- We go online with our groups information and results with the Gerringong-Gerroa Local Web site, a great advertisement for us and our wonderful sponsors.
  • May. Also sees our 1st washed out game since July 99. A total of 46 months, only the fishermen changing their day to coincide with our good luck caused this to break our drought. Good on them.
  • July 03 – We have a xmas in July day for the Salvation Army with Gordon Hume representing them. We donate 4 large bags of presents and also a donation of $1200.00 raised from all other social clubs, and our parent club, with a big thank you to the fishing section for $300.00.
  • Sept  03 – Our new club shirt/hats with own logo are created red/navy blue at a cost of $43.00 for the shirt,$10.00 hat. Sold to our members for $20.00 and $10.00 respectfully. As at Dec we have sold 97 shirts and 100 hats ordered.
  • Sept- Also see our club start to sponsor the Gerringong Golf Club Junior Competition run by Gail Bergin. We buy a large perpetual trophy, with a replica for the winner, plus monthly trophies. This has an immediate flow on of those juniors and family members joining our social group.
  • October 03 – We have our Inaugural match against the Imperial Hotel from Rooty Hill. The winner of this match was the Fisho’s holding onto the new trophy. This is now set to be a six monthly event.
  • December 03 – Annual presentation day see 120 people attend it, with winners and runner ups receiving trophies, a full set of golf clubs, bag, buggy raffled off and a DVD given out as a lucky door prize to the golfers.

A Few Facts & Figures

I know that many people find statistics boring. Also a lot of people can’t understand them (particularly you cretins who can’t even mark a scorecard properly).

Given that, however, the following are a few stats that have developed over the years (you might find a few surprises). The figures are accurate up to and including March 2002.

* There have been 139 months recorded as having been played (for some reason the months from September 1989 to January 1990 inclusive are not recorded and so have been considered as not having been played – although that’s obviously incorrect).

* There have been eight months “rained out” – the earliest February 1990 and the last July 1999.

* The worst year for rain was 1995 with two months (March and November) washed out and the worst month has been February with three months wiped.

*  There have been 3,299 “person games” begun (I say “begun” because over the years some really wimpy excuses have been given for people not finishing a round, for example gout, buggered, myocardial infarction)

* The lowest number of players in any month was July 1994 when only eight played.

*The highest number to play was January 2002 with 53.

* The most popular month is December (big surprise, traditionally it has been a “free game”) at a 28.9 person average. But it does only just edge out January with 27.5.

* The worst attended months are September (20.4) and June (20.6)

* The worst “Year Total” (ignoring 1989 because it only had two games recorded) was 1998 with 183 players (one game was washed out). The best was 2001 with 450 (all 12 games played). That record is under some threat this year as so far, in three months, we have had 150 “player games”.

Summing Up

As the GBFC Social Golf section enters its 14th year, it is appropriate to get down, at least in some small way, the history of a group that has brought so much fun to so many people.

The numbers of original members who started the whole thing will (hopefully not too soon) begin to dwindle and a lot of what happened in those early days will be lost forever.

As I said earlier, I started playing with the Group around the middle of 1991. I was going to list down a few of the memories of those years in this report but, honestly, it was just getting too big anyway. (Perhaps, with Tony’s kind assistance of course, we could start a “From The Vault” section in future editions of “In the Hole”. That way we can document some of the things that people who have been such a part of this Group’s development remember with fondness, for instance Jack dressing up as Santa Claus for Christmas presentation days).

The section owes so much to so many people who have helped throughout the years. I am not even going to try and list them here because, one, I don’t think I could do everyone justice and, two, there’s not enough ink in the printer.

Suffice to say, to all of you, thanks for the memories.

It has been fun putting this together and I must confess that I am certain it contains errors, particularly when I tried to “re-live” the early years. My thanks to everyone who provided input and any mistakes are fully mine alone?

So that’s it, 13 down and who knows how many to go. See you on the 1st.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 January 2007 )