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Fore! Golf Begins in Adelaide

Lefevre Park / Nantu Wama (Park 6)

Golf was introduced to Adelaide in 1870 by the Scottish-born Governor James Fergusson and David Murray, a member of the Legislative Council. However, interest in the game declined after Governor Fergusson left the colony in 1872 and the club he helped establish in the south-east Park Lands was disbanded.

One Guinea allows Golf on the Park Lands

Golf returned to the city in the 1890s with the establishment of the Adelaide Golf Club here in Lefevre Park / Nantu Wama (Park 6), off Lefevre Terrace.

On 9 August 1892 Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Gordon of Largs Bay wrote to the Adelaide Corporation Town Clerk seeking permission for the newly formed club to play golf:

Having formed a Golf Club, I beg to forward a request that your Corporation may give us the necessary permission to play on that portion of the parklands between North Adelaide and Medindie and Lefevre-Osmond and Lower Walkerville.”

Permission was granted on payment of a fee of one Guinea (approximately $170 in today’s currency) and the new golf club was formed with 32 foundation members.

The first competition took place on Saturday 8 October 1892 as reported in the Athletics column of the South Australian Chronicle the following week.

Ladies, Tea and the Braggs

By late 1893 a Ladies Golf Club had formed with permission ‘graciously’ granted by the gentlemen, allowing them to play on Monday afternoons and any morning during the week – but definitely not Saturday afternoons! On 18 November 1893 the Adelaide Observer reported under ‘Adelaide Gossip’:

“The Ladies Golf Club in North Adelaide is fairly started now, and the members are most enthusiastic over their new amusement. Doubtless the hot weather, combined with grass seeds, will have the effect of drying up some of their ardour before long. …”

The Governor, the Right Honourable Earl of Kintore GCMG, was the patron of the new Golf Club which included many prominent Adelaide citizens including CM Bagot, Fred Ayers, and TE Barr-Smith. The renowned physicist William Henry Bragg who lived opposite the course at 60 Lefevre Terrace was also a member and reportedly an enthusiastic golfer, his regular practice allowing him to quickly reduce his handicap from thirteen to one.

In 1896 the Adelaide Golf Club moved to Glenelg, and then to Seaton. In 1923 the Club was given permission by the Governor of the day to use the prefix “Royal”, and thereafter became the “Royal Adelaide Golf Club”. Despite the move to Glenelg in 1896, the Club retained the course in the north Park Lands for practice. It is believed that the Club ceased using the course in the north Park Lands in 1911.

Golf continues to be played in the Adelaide Park Lands, in Possum Park /Pirltawardli (Park 1) where the North Adelaide Golf Club was established in 1905.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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