Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 12, October 1969
By J.R. KIDD
Owing to records being lost the exact year of the formation of the Club is uncertain, but according to letters received from past members, apparently golf was played in Paeroa about 1900. The late Mr. J. Hanna had a private golf course on the right hand side of the road past the Catholic Church going to Waihi [Low flats with the Ohinemuri River close by – E]. Quote from Mr. Hanna's letter:- "I made my own clubs and they were fearful and wonderful looking things, but they got the length; and I am sure if it had not been for tailings and floods the course would have still been there".
A Ladies Club was founded in 1904 when rules and regulations were drawn up and a course of nine holes was laid out on the farms of the late P. Vuglar and W. Nicholls. According to Miss K.E. Murphy the course was very rough and the Club consisted of Mrs. Porritt, Mrs. Moresby, Mrs. Brunskill, Mrs. Hunt, Adeline Coutts, Misses Jessie and Daisy Hague-Smith, Alice Gibbons, Mrs. Henry Bush, Miss R.E. Murphy, Mrs. J. Reid (neê Edie Hubbard), Mrs. J. Silcock, Mrs. Wyn Edwards. Mrs. J. Reid was the Secretary.
The Club moved to the Race Course in 1910, having laid out a nine-hole course which proved to be a hard one with small greens and plenty of fences and hazards such as the railing round the Race Course. Incidentally to play eighteen holes you climbed through or over seventy five fences. The Jockey Club treated the Golf Club very well; for the sum of $10 a year the Club had the use of the rooms for afternoon tea etc. and at the request of the Golf Club sheep were grazed to help keep the grass down.
The Golf Club was incorporated in 1919 when rules were amended and new ones added. The following officers were elected:- President, P.R. Hubbard; Vice President, W.D. Nicholas. The Committee: H.H. Bray, R.J. Hamilton, R.P.L. Miller, E.W. Porritt and A.W. Wilson. Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Porritt were elected Life Members 7-3-1910. A member of the Club could become a life member by payment of £10 and any arrears; Subscriptions were men members £3 and Lady members £2. Country members, men £1/10-; Ladies £1; non-playing members - ladies 10/-.
In 1942, after 32 years at the Race Course, the Club decided to acquire land of their own and Mr. Carden (Pres.) and Mr. J. Bartlett (Sec.) and Mr. H. Thorp were delegated to secure a property and that now owned by the Golf Club was duly chosen. The land was leased for twenty-one years, and the above gentlemen deserve a lot of credit in getting a lease as the Government of the day was not in favour of the Maoris parting with their land. The ground where Nos. 1 and 9 greens are was in tall blackberry, and all the ground the other side of the swamp was fern covered. Mr. H. Dale set out a nine hole course. The first hole tee was at the back of the Club House, the second played across the gully to the present 16th green, down to a green past the present 17th tee, back to the Club house, up on to the country where 8 and 9 greens are, and the 9th green was played from the top of the hill to the present No.1 green. An arrangement was entered into with Mr. Johnstone to break in all the back portion of the course and eventually the 18 hole course as designed by Mr. H. Gillies was laid out.
During the war years our Club went back in membership and about 1943-44 had dropped from 129 members to approximately 60, but regardless of this, by wonderful team spirit the Club went ahead, and we were told by Mr. Norton, who was advisor to the New Zealand Golf Club on golf green management, that the Paeroa Course had made more progress than any club under his care.
In 1947-48 Messrs Shaw and Blackwood were active in purchasing a triplex (approx. £400) and a Ferguson tractor and from there on the Club went ahead. In 1954 it was regarded by Messrs V. Hollis and E. Rex as one of the best courses in the Waikato. The club house when the property was taken over was 450 square feet and by 1954 was approx. 1500 square feet and all the labour was done by working bees and financed by socials and members subscriptions. Two balls were held and brought in £240, half going to the Patriotic Society.
The freehold of the property was obtained in 1967. The old Club house was demolished and a new one consisting of 322 square feet was built by Mr. T. Marshall. This building was set on fire by a vandal and another one consisting of 4,400 square feet approx. was erected by Mr. T. Marshall who deserves great credit for the finish he put into it. It compares very favourably with any club house in the district. Alterations to the course designed by Mr. H. Dale have been carried out, and again a willing band of members have done most of the work. Mention should be made for the way Mr. J. Sarjant has managed the grazing of the Course with sheep. Tree planting that has gone on over the years and is still going on under the guidance of Mr. J. Jensen, makes the "Valley of the Mist" course a place of beauty.
In 1954, 1st and 2nd May the fiftieth Jubilee was celebrated and competitions were held. Saturday 4 ball best ball bogey. Winners: Mrs. R Morgan and C. McNeill. Runners up: Mrs. G. Masters and J. Sinnett. Afternoon stapleford: Mrs. J.F. Kidd and G. Masters. Sunday morning medal: Miss Gough (Thames) and D. Haddon. Trophies donated by Mr. A. Boulton. On the Saturday night a dinner was provided by the ladies of the Club and 150 guests were seated to partake of it. Many complimentary and well deserved remarks were passed about the ladies for the way they had carried out the catering.
Paeroa has had some outstanding Golf Club members, e.g. Mr. Brick Budd was Club Champion at the age of 16 years. Mr. H.H. Bray was Club Champion a number of times. Mr. W.E. Tubman was Club Champion three years in succession. At the age of 16 years Mr. C.R. Kidd was Club Champion for a number of years, Thames Valley Champion three years in succession and Cambridge Golf Club Champion. Mrs. H.H. Bray and Miss G. Gibb were Ladies Club Champions for years in succession and Miss L. Poland was a Ladies Club Champion.
Many stories originate in clubs of every kind and Paeroa Golf Club was not behind in this, and these are some of the things that happened. Mr. F. Budd tells the following one which is probably unique to the golfing world. Quote: "At the No.2 hole at the Race Course an amazing thing happened while I was playing with L. Bell, a beginner. He was in a depression when playing his first shot so could not see the green about 160 yards away. I gave him the line and told him not to hit the kingfisher sitting on the corner post of the green. Len hit the ball hard and true and it hit the kingfisher full in the chest. When we got to the green the ball and the dead kingfisher were lying within three inches of the hole".
A and B. Playing the first hole at the Race Course A lost his ball and after looking for it for awhile B said "Come on we cannot waste any more time". A said "I will have another look round the other side of this blackberry bush. Yes here it is". B. "You are a liar; here it is", and he brought it out of his pocket. He had picked it up soon after they started looking for it. Incidentally A and B were such cheats that in matches they were always put together to play for whichever one was the winner it was a fair match.
Mr. J. Denton informed me that as a boy in Waihi he caddied for Mr. Sloan Morpeth (a Champion) on Hollis' farm.
Another story: C was playing a wonderful game and when he came to the 14th hole across the Gully where the steeplechase track is, was about par figures. He duffed his ball into the gully and on or about the thirtyfifth stroke he hit it into the blackberries. Taking his clubs out of the bag he threw them all into the blackberries followed by the bag and with the remark "I will never play the game again". A friend of mine retrieved the clubs and played with them for a number of years.
OUR CONTRIBUTOR: MR. J. R. KIDD is a veteran Golfer who still enjoys his game in his 80th year. He was Capt. 1935-1944, Vice- Pres. 1946 and Sec. 1950-1954.