An Anecdotal History
Friday 7th April 1967
The Bremer Bay Sports Club was conceived in unseemly altercation, and sponsored embryonically by a surrogate mother.
However the right people were in the right place at the right time for the birthing and early nurture.
One of the people at the conception happened to be the President of the Bremer Bay Progress Association, who had been contemplating the need for a community forum for the burgeoning rural community, and in whose dreamtime, included a golf links, on an attractive scenic stretch of lightly vegetated dune land on the coast.
The place of conception was the Boxwood Hill golf Club, the membership of which had been augmented by recruiting from the nearby and recently settled Bremer Bay area.
The time was after the Sunday’s golf while socializing at the nineteenth.
An unlikely place for conception? Indeed it was, and an unlikely circumstance was to follow.
The refreshment actuation as it existed in those primitive days, was that an obliging member purchased the refreshments in case lots from cheap liquor outlets in Perth and transported it back to the club as a voluntary contribution. In this instance the donor of the service was the visionary from Bremer Bay.
Enter the messenger.
“There has been an accident at home Bob, better get home and handle it”
No further information was offered, so fearing the worst, post haste and forthwith,....LETS GO.
The Bremer Bay domiciled members who had travelled together in one car, collected their first issue of two bottles each, excused themselves politely, and proceeded to leave the clubhouse with full decorum, even pausing at the president’s table to offer the usual farewells.
The scene was set for the unseemly altercation that initiated the conception.
The president’s wife stated unequivocally..
“You cannot take unopened bottles of beer from the clubhouse.”
In answer to a defiant but sotto voice reply she further stated..
“That Bob Tozer is an arrogant bastard.”
Which got the no longer sotto voice reply...
“You can keep your golf course Ruthie, I’ll go home and build a better one.”
“You couldn’t build a golf course while that indelicate anatomical feature of yours points to the ground.”
And again the visionary spoke elegantly..
“You just bloody well watch me.”
The Birthing Had Become Inevitable. The Scene was Set.
(Of passing interest was the fact that the accident at home was minor. The next door neighbours son and his own eleven year old son had broached Bobs wine cellar, and imbibed much of a flagon of dry sherry, pirated the farm ute to take the next door neighbour home, but had left the road on the way. Luckily no damage done.)
I digress.. further to the above Club’s constitution stating that.. “Members may not take unopened bottles of beer from the Club” It is quite properly, an obvious ploy to stop lazy members from taking the weeks supply home to drink at their leisure, rather than shopping in Albany one hundred miles away.
The Die Was Cast
The arrogant one was the visionary President of the Progress Association. Amongst his cohorts were the fourth generation representative of the original settlers, Max Wellstead, who retained a passionate love for the newly found community encompassing his isolation, the Bremer Bay schoolteacher Brian Carter, who enjoyed his involvement in community affairs, and two dedicated community workers in farmer Joe Moore, and Bruce Ramsden.
Bremer bay was seeking a gathering place to cater for group activity other than the local hall, which had just been built.
A bowling club was canvassed, but the practicing bowlers knowing the problems, said with one voice “ You build it, and we will play on it with you.” A feasibility study had shown they were right, a bowling green needed much money and real expertise.
On the other hand..
Gullible in innocence, it was believed that a golf links could be built with the available farming equipment and the collective skills of the owner operators.
The site was obvious to the visionary, but not unfortunately to the bureaucrats of the “Town Planning Department” who from their desks in the Capital had sited a future facility on a wind swept mallee hill five miles inland.
The problem was that the links land site selected happened to be a “C” class reserve, Kent Loc. 511, and was currently leased for grazing to the original settler.
Get an influential shire councilor onside, a reigning higher echelon bureaucrat to say “ You build it and I will see they don’t take it off you.” The means were at hand, the Progress association the vehicle and initial funder, farmers goodwill, and off we go.
Good We Are Away,... Or Are We ?
How the hell do you build a golf course?
Ask Tommy Deacon, fresh from helping with the second nine at Pingrup.
“Afraid not. You will never build a Links on that land.”
Try Percy Lawrence, the Guru of golf at Boxwood Hill, no change there, “ Lay out the fairways and I’ll put in the tees and greens.” Um!
What about the professionals?
“If you pay for the time and travelling, probably five to ten thousand dollars”
Oh hell where next? Use your brains man, The Western Australian Golf association. What inspiration, letter away, passed on to course advisory committee, surprise, surprise! The chairman just happens to be captain of a commercial business that specialised in golf course layout.
Careful now, what skills do you need to be a golf course architect?
Lucky break, a par in “The Golf Monthly Digest” states.. Over forty years of age, having played on the best world courses, and be capable of playing scratch golf. How does our advisory chairman rate? Well he is over forty, that’s something.
We have to do something, so lets get in touch with him.
“No trouble I’ll be down to have a look at it. Cost? Seeing as you are a non profit community organization, just travel and accommodation.”
At last some good news.
So we waited, and we waited, and we phoned, and we phoned, and we wrote, and we wrote. All to no avail.
What’s to lose? If he thinks he is indispensable let’s threaten his ego.
“I’m sorry Mr. Chairman we will be forced to get someone else.”
“There just happens to be new technology for taking contours of aerial photos. I can get on to it, and will do it immediately.
Eighteen-hole golf course design duly arrived. What joy!
We now had a site on a reserve, which was not approved by the Under Secretary, we had a layout done by an expert of doubtful credentials, and we had our enthusiasm.
Where to next? Let’s ignore the government for starters. Why not try the layout on for size?
Surprise, surprise the bloody thing bore no resemblance to actual contours.
Let’s try the technical libraries. Literature proved to be very scarce, a pamphlet titled “Principles of Golf Course Architecture” from the American Golf Foundation, a Scottish booklet entitled “Th e Best Holes On The Scottish Linksland” and an article in Golf Monthly called “Disasters of Amateur Alterations.”
So here we go, let’s take a look at them and see what we can do
A postscript at the end said “save this for later”
Surrounding districts proved to be very helpful, we were able to place, (highly illegal) punch cards in district hotels and taverns, Gnowangerup, Borden, Ongerup, and Jerramungup and of course The Bremer Bay Emporium. These cards raised a total of one thousand dollars in a very short time. It was decided not to kill the goose that had laid the golden egg by overplaying our hand, so donations accepted, thanks given and let’s put that avenue on hold.
Two or three woolshed cabarets were to raise further funds.
A SHORT HISTORY BY AN OBSERVER
There are three reasons, which together led to the formation of the Bremer Bay Sports Club.
First, in the early sixties an interstate visitor saw the links-land along back beach from the lookout between John Cove and Back Beach and boastfully stated that would come back to Bremer Bay, get a farming block and build a Golf Links out there, only to be told, “Rubbish , you couldn’t get the land and even if you built one only a mountain goat could play on it.”
Ever heard of “The King of The Mountains?”
Second, in the mid sixties the Progress Association with a hall to their credit, realised that they needed more agreeable surroundings for day to day discussion of district problems, they also recognised the need for recreational facilities for the growing community, this awareness being highlighted by a mid sixties attempt to build tennis courts at the school, and the hasty production of a sports ground as a venue for the athletic carnival of the district schools.
Third, the catalyst which triggered a reaction to do something positive about these needs, was the incorrigible nature of our good friends at the recently formed Boxwood Hill Golf Club, who provided one of the few sporting outlets for the people of Bremer Bay. Some six members from Bremer travelled to Boxwood to enjoy the company and use the facilities provided by the club.
One historic evening the weekly discussion or argument, depending on your point of view, became polarized and the Bremer crew, who were “blow ins anyhow,” declared their intention to go home and build their own Golf Links.” It is a tribute to the inter-district good will that these same Boxwood friends became foundation members at Bremer Bay, and that the initial contribution to our building fund was the Boxwood donor of the bell, which presently calls members to attention in our clubhouse.
Three reasons and a dreamer’s vision which created a long term plan to enthuse others, and the first unsteady steps were taken.
As I write this in the mid eighties we see a soundly based progressively managed community asset, or a white elephant out there on the hill depending on whose eyes it is seen through, perhaps we should leave it to history to judge.
The Progress Association:
The progress association was then as it is now,
aware of the needs of the area, and active in initiating steps to provide the amenities whether they be sporting, social, cultural or as mundane as a telephone service.
The hall was an early success for the association but a failed attempt to build sealed tennis courts at the school failed, certainly not from the lack of enthusiasm, but unfortunately because we lacked the expertise.
In 1967 Bremer Bay was called upon to hold the Athletics carnival for the combined schools of the area. The grassed area east of the school was considered to small, and the progress association and the P & C, in effect the same people, accepted the challenge in May, and produced a sports ground by mid October.
A lucky coincidence perhaps, that the eastern states visitor on the hill, the arrogant member from Bremer at Boxwood Hill, and the President of the Progress Association at the time, were one and the same person.
Early town plans had shown an area set aside for golf variously, out in the mallee at the airfield or, on the seven to one gradient on the south side of the water tank hill.
Being “fired up,” the prime movers, a school teacher and a couple of cockies were not impressed by the time lag within the bureaucracy and used unorthodox methods to expedite their programme. Friends in high places, the lands department, and the Gnowangerup Shire council were prevailed upon for assurances that if the links was built that they would make sure it was not taken off us.
An Eighteen hole layout was obtained from a Perth Architect, Peppermint grazing Company gave up their grazing lease on Kent Loc. 511, and work began to build a Golf Links.
Suffice to say the layout done from an aerial photograph bore no resemblance to the contours of the site. This dilemma was overcome by acquiring two books from The American Golf Foundation which explained the rudiments of golf course layout.
Having absorbed the information from the books and sundry advisors, a nine hole layout devised which started and finished at the site for the proposed clubhouse. The holes were marked out by hanging strips of lilac bed sheet on prominent peppermint trees in the coastal scrub and driving from marker to marker with a page slasher behind a Fordson tractor, avoiding the larger trees for later attention. Wether the dog legs were the inevitable result of de-orientation of the tractor driver buried in the scrub, or the result of planning, must always remain a matter for speculation.
Number one fairway slashed but not ploughed was the scene of an historic event when Noel Tozer struck the first ball off the present Ladies tee. three other “would be” Bremer Bay golfers followed suit, unfortunately the embryo fairway was so uncivilized that all four balls were lost. History does have a way of repeating itself.
These embryo fairways marked by the slasher were ploughed out from the centre to a suitable width. The sharp ridges were contoured by bellying the plough as it went over them and so dragging the tops off to form a smoother undulation.
A heavy chain and a root rake helped the civilization process at every pass.
Tee and green sites were leveled by a contract grader and the Progress Association footed the bill for $60.
The first nine holes were seeded with sub clover seconds from Newdegate and strawberry clover and couch grass supplied by the entrepreneurs in June 1969, and the first competition was played by locals and visitors on the 2nd of November of the same year.
The potential of these first nine holes was praised by more than one acknowledged expert, so flushed with success we started to look at a second nine holes. There was some overlapping of functions around this time as all organizations in the district were essentially the same people, but about this time we entered the era of the golf club.
The Bremer Bay Progress Association convened a public meeting at The Bremer Bay hall on 17th of July 1969 for the purpose of forming a golf club. Present at this meeting were 19 interested people, the President of the Progress association opened the meeting and explained the work already done on the golf links site.
It was then moved by Mr. A Jury and seconded by Mr. Jack McCann that a gold club be formed. This motion being carried, it was moved by Mr. Tony Gooch and seconded by Mr. Jack McCann, that the club be called “Bremer Bay Golf Club”. The first officer bearers and committee were then elected a follows:-
Bob Tozer (President)
Max Wellstead (Vice President)
Brian Carter (Secretary)
Tom Deacon (Captain)
Joe Moore (Vice Captain)
Len Carlson (Handicapper)
And Committeemen Tony Gooch, Jack McCann and John Harland
The meeting then discussed various matters concerning the conduct of a golf club and motions were put and carried regarding such matters as members, subscriptions, green fees, banking and other general business. It was also agreed that the ladies of the district be asked to form an Associates Club, at a meeting to be held on Friday afternoon 25th July 1969 at 2pm.
To conclude the meeting it was moved and carried that our newly formed golf club take immediate steps to affiliate with the West Australian Golf Association and the Southern Districts Golf Association.
The tempo of the work on the golf links now increased, everybody who had any spare time could be found on the golf course, not playing golf, but picking up sticks, filling in holes, leveling of areas around greens, burning heaps of piled and raked bush and generally getting the area in a fit state to play golf. It was decided to concentrate on the first nine holes so as to get them ready for play as soon as possible.
By the middle of 1969 it was decided to present our golf links to the public. A picnic day was arranged, and was to be held on the site where the present Sports Clubhouse now stands. This picnic day was to take place on 2nd November 1969. A busy bee was held to prepare the site with portable toilets, tents, shelters and coloured lights. Refreshments in the form of a 5 x 10 gallon kegs and various soft drinks were made available. The picnic day was very successful. About 65 golfers played on the course and with donations, a stall, Melbourne Cup sweep and the bar, $208 was raised for the club.
From then on over the summer months a series of cabarets and dances were held to raise more funds.
Inaugural Meeting: 17th July 1969
19 Members Present
The President of the Progress Association opened the meeting and explained the work already done on the Golf Links site.
Apologies received from K Moir, L Smith D Collett, and E Weir.
It was then moved by Mr. A Jury and Seconded by Mr. J McCann “That a golf Club be formed”. – Carried
Moved A Gooch and seconded by J McCann that “The Club be called The Bremer Bay Golf Club”. – Carried.
Nominations were then called for nominations for Secretary – Treasurer
Mr. J Moore seconded by Mr. A Jury nominated B Carter. No further nominations. B Carter was elected
Nominations were called for President; Mr. B Tozer was nominated by Mr. J Harland, seconded by Mr. L Carlson. No further nominations, Mr. B Tozer was elected.
Vice President: Mr. J Moore nominated and Mr. J McCann seconded the nomination of Mr. M Wellstead. Elected.
Captain: Mr. T. Deacon was nominated by Mr. J Harland, seconded by Mr. A Gooch, elected.
Vice Captain: Mr. L Carlson declined nomination and Mr. J Moore was elected on the nomination of Mr. L Carlson seconded by Mr. T Barrett – Leonard.
Handicapper: Mr. l. Carlson was elected on the nomination of Mr. T Barrett – Leonard which was seconded by Mr. J. McCann.
Committee: Mr. Carlson moved that all elected office bearers and three more members should comprise the committee. Seconded J. McCann and carried.
Mr. M. Wellstead nominated Mr. A Gooch, seconded by Mr. W Dunlop.
Mr. P Lawrence nominated Mr. J McCann, seconded by Mr. J Harland.
Mr. J Moore nominated J. Harland, seconded by Mr. D McDonald.
No further nominations, all 3 elected.
It was then decided that the committee should have the power to appoint a further two members when the club is functioning.
Moved L Carlson seconded J Moore that the Club bank account be placed with the R&I bank at Jerramungup with the secretary, president and vice-president - any two to sign as the method of operation. Carried
Moved L Carlson seconded P. Richardson that subscriptions be payable now and be current until the 31st December 1970.
An amendment to the motion was moved by Mr. J. Moore seconded by Mr. T Deacon. The amendment read:
“That a $5 subscription be paid for the remainder of this season and be current until the general meeting held prior to the winter season”
The amendment was accepted.
No further amendments, the motion was carried.
Moved L. Carlson, seconded B. Carter that subscriptions for a full year be discussed at the pre – season meeting and associates to pay $2.50 until this meeting. Carried
Moved A. Gooch seconded P.Richardson that members be nominated as Country members beyond a 30-mile radius from the Bremer Bay Golf Links, and that they pay the interim fee of $5 for 1969.
Moved L. Carlson seconded J. McCann that members be classed as junior members between the ages of 13 and 18 inclusive. Carried
Moved I. Campbell seconded B. Nazar that members of the committee have the power to appoint honorary members. Carried
Moved L. Carlson seconded I. Campbell that green fees be set at 50c for 9 holes and 75c for 18 holes.
Working Bee: Moved I. Campbell seconded J. LaBianca that a working bee be held on the 25th July commencing at 9.00am. Carried.
Moved L. Carlson seconded P. Jenvey that the associates be asked to form a club at a meeting to be held on Friday afternoon 25th July at 2.00pm. Carried.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING.
Moved J. McCann seconded W. Dunlop that the annual general meeting be held concurrently with the pre-season meeting which is to be the 2nd Wednesday in March. - Carried
Green cups: Mr. A. Jury offered to donate the cups. The secretary is to obtain prices and specifications for the committee meeting.
Moved T. Deacon seconded W. Dunlop that the Bremer Bay Golf Club affiliate with the W.A.G.A. and Southern Districts Association.
No Further business, the meeting closed at 10.15pm.
Those Present at this Historic meeting were:
Mr. Athol Jury, Mr. Jack McCann, Mr. Tony Gooch, Mr. Bob Tozer, Mr. Len Carlson, Mr. Brian Carter, Mr. Joe Moore, Mr. John Harland, Mr. Max Wellstead,
Mr. Tom Deacon, Mr. Trevor Barrett-Lennard, Mr. Bill Dunlop, Mr. Perce Lawrence,
Mr. Doug McDonald, Mr. Peter Richardson, Mr. Boris Nazar, Mr. Ian Campbell,
Mr. Peter Jenvey, Mr. Joe LaBianca
Max Wellstead provided an old trolley bus for use a temporary clubhouse. This was adapted to cater as an office clubhouse and meeting place. The woolshed dances (Nov. Dec. Jan.) and cabaret held in the hall, resulted in a financial position of $674.29 in the bank. It was decide on the 5th of March 1970 to officially open the Bremer Bay Golf Links season on 29th of March with an open Canadian mixed foursome of 18 holes. This was preceded by a dance in the hall on Easter Saturday for the young people. As we were “young” people in those days - we all turned up.
The opening day was very successful with the highlight of the day being a hole in one. This was achieved by a visitor Andrew Craggs, partnering with Noel Tozer. It must have set some sort of a record by holing in one at the opening of a golf course. This was repeated a couple of years later at the same hole (No. 4) by Alan Epis a local at the time. There was a period of some 25 years before another hole in one was performed on this course. Altogether over the 30 years of play only 4 people have succeeded.
The 1970 playing season attracted bigger fields consistently than what are playing today.
Notable trophies were donated, which were to be played for annually, some of which survive today.
They were: The Collett Cup (Don and Connie Collett)
Pioneers Cup (Wellstead and Garnett families)
King of The Mountain (Bob and Noel Tozer)
Seaton Ross (Doug and Peta McDonald)
Bremer Cup (John and Mary Harland)
Foundation members were accepted until October 1970. The list was then closed and the persons whose names were recorded on the honour boards in the Sports Clubhouse were duly elected to be foundation members of the Bremer Bay Golf Club.
During the first playing season many ideas were investigated for a building to serve as a clubhouse. Finally it was arranged with the progress association to purchase, for the price of $100 , a building formally used by the Bremer Bay Sea Rescue group situated in John Cove.
A working bee was organized for the 23rd July 1970 to pull down the building and cart the materials to the site selected at the golf course. By the 6th August this building was re-erected together with an extension and was soon in operation as our first clubhouse.
Further refinements were added in due course and included a tank for fresh rainwater, a wood stove for cooking, a wood heater to keep us warm and a bar for drinks to keep us cold. An electric generator was installed for lighting, and a small room was built on the back corner to serve as the ladies room. This room also contained a 44-gallon drum of diesel fuel. Toilets were built of salvage materials a short distance from the clubhouse. In the men’s toilet to get the levels right, there was a large flat brick placed for the convenience of “Bill”
After the addition of the concrete floor and the pool table, the clubhouse served us well for the next 7 years.
It came the time when ambitions for a big new clubhouse and the formation of the Bremer Bay Sports Club were getting to the stage of more serious planning to bring about the building we have today.
Note: All that remains of the old clubhouse
is part of the cement floor near the
cement tanks at the rear of the
tennis club building.
The Formation of the Sports Club 1972
At the annual general meeting of the Bremer Bay Golf club held on 5th November 1972, and after the election of the office bearers for the 1973 season, extensive discussion of the future aims and objectives of the club took place.
This resulted in a motion, moved by Robert (Bob) Tozer and seconded by Peter Richardson, that “To facilitate future operations that this club, now the Bremer Bay Golf Club, adopt the name of The Bremer Bay Sports Club, and that the constitutional aims of the Club should be to provide facilities and management for compatible sporting, cultural and social activities for the enjoyment of it’s members their friends and visitors”. And so the name The Bremer Bay Sports Club was born and the golf club continued to operate under his name for the 1973 season.
After the general discussion as to the future role if the Club in the community, an expressed feeling was that club activities would expand in its new role of a general sports club with an enlarged social commitment. This would require more suitable clubhouse facilities, so it was moved that a start be made to raise finance to build a new clubhouse. A site for the new clubhouse had already been provided for, as that where the present clubhouse now stands.
It was agreed that a separate building fund be set up. The fund was to be operated by three trustees. The building money should not be mixed with golf money, but be invested away from other revenue. An election for the three trustees resulted in L.A Carlson, A.R. Gooch and RWF Tozer being empowered to fulfill these positions.
A clubhouse building committee was formed and consisted of the three elected trustees to be joined by the President, house manager and social secretary. These committee members changed as the President changed. Leo Smith held a position for 5 years.
This committee was to investigate all aspects of the building of a new clubhouse and including lighting, design and type of construction, cost, and any other physical and financial investigations necessary so that a full and complete proposal could be put to the members. I view of the forgoing and the general feeling of optimism for the future, and the necessity for the provision of the facilities for other sports it was decided to embark on a fundraising scheme in the next 12 months.
Suggestions for fundraising included a raffle of a 12 ft dinghy, woolshed cabaret, Calcutta on the Perth Cup and a share-cropping programme for the 1973 season. Joe Moore offered 260 acres (110ha) for sharecropping and this was completed with success.
Fundraising started immediately with the raffle drawn on 30thJanuary 1973. Following the cabaret and Calcutta sweep on the Perth Cup, the building fund had $1055 in hand by February.
During the 1973 season the Bremer Bay golfers continued to operate as a golf club and were instrumental in raising money, not only for the improvements for the golf course, but also for the new clubhouse building fund.
1973 was indeed a very enthusiastic and hectic year for the “Golf Club”. A major success was winning the pennant competition for the first time. The captain reported an increased attendance on all club days, and the general support for the many working bees on the course was very gratifying.
Other notable events during 1973 included the donation to the Club of a Captain’s bell by Mr. Keith Moir. This bell is part of our clubhouse today. Mrs. May Wellstead offered to knit club jumpers in approved club colours for members for a charge of $1.50 plus the price of the wool. I don’t know how many she knitted but I do know that everyone seemed to have one at that stage. The colour was dark yellow and brown. A cash register was purchased for the sum of $100. A B-B-Q for the Moore family
raised $250 to be used for equipping the bore at the clubhouse also put down by Joe Moore. A set of golf clubs were obtained by the club and made available for$1 for 18 holes.
The first annual general meeting of the Bremer Bay Sports Club was held on the 14th of November 1973. This comprised all golfers who had been operating under this name for the 1973 season. After the election of the office bearers, general discussion took place which resulted in a motion being carried that “A committee be formed comprising of the President, Secretary, Vice-President, Treasurer, with the President of the progress association and President of the associates, to formulate a draft constitution for the Sports Club”.
Consideration be given to incorporation and applying for a licensed club facility. The secretary was to notify the licensing court of our intention to apply for a license. Fundraising for the coming year to include the raffle of a motorbike, a woolshed cabaret and a beef and burgundy barbeque. All these and more were conducted with great success and enhancement of the building fund.
A pool table was authorized, and to be financed by non-interest bearing debentures repayable over three years. Debentures to be of $20 multiples, with other purchases of a refrigerator and a fairway mower also considered.
Prior to the commencement of the 1974 season a general meeting was held on the 24th of march 1974, when Mr. Jack McCann took the chair and welcomed members of the Sports Club interested in re-forming the Golf Club under the Sports Club constitution.
After discussion and explanation it was moved by Athol Jury and seconded by John Ford that: “The group of Sports Club members present at this meeting agree to form a golf club under the constitution of the Bremer Bay Sports Club”. The name of the club to be The Bremer Bay Golf Club.
The office bearers and committee elected at the November (1973) meeting of the Sports Club, to be the officers and committee of the re-formed golf club.
From this sequence of events it is apparent why the original foundation members of the Bremer Bay Golf Club are considered to be the foundation members of the Bremer Bay Sports Club.
This action fulfilled all the formalities necessary for the continuing operation of the Bremer Bay Sports Club as it is operating today, with the addition of other sports, as they became organized and accepted into the club.
Compiled by Len Carlson. (Circa 2000)
Bremer Bay Sports Club