Fifty years of memories for Morisset women's golf pioneers | photos

THESE days, golfers on the pristine fairways at Morisset are required to simply replace divots, and repair pitch marks.

It was a different story in 1968 when the course first opened.

Players then were required to remove roots, branches and rocks as they played on the hard and patchy fairways.

Many players brought in kikuyu grass runners from home to plant as they walked the course.

Some even brought their lawnmowers in and they’d tame the grass while playing.

Ellen Rae and Beryl Mullard remember those days well because they were there.

Ms Rae and Ms Mullard were on the founding committee of the Morisset Golf Associates, on July 4, 1968.

On Wednesday, they led the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of women’s golf at Morisset.

Ms Rae, the club captain, and Ms Mullard, the club patroness, are the only two women from the original committee still playing.

“My recollections of the early days is that it was very difficult,” Ms Rae said.

“We had tees that were rock hard, and we had temporary greens… but look at the lovely lush fairways here now.

“Today we have one of the best and most challenging courses in the district.”

Ms Mullard, whose late husband Hope Mullard was president of the golf club for 19 years, agreed the course was a gem.

“It’s just perfect because it’s good for beginners and challenging for professionals,” she said.

“Golf is a wonderful outlet for women. We have about 80 women who play every Tuesday, and we have bus trips away.”

The course was built on land granted to Morisset RSL Club in 1966 by the Department of Health, and originally comprised six holes.

It became a nine-hole layout in 1968, with sand greens.

A greenkeeper was employed the following year, and seven weeks later the first competition was played on grass greens.

Funds from the Whitlam government’s Regional Employment Development (RED) Scheme enabled the construction of a second nine holes.

“But even with grant money volunteer labour was still needed to be able to reach the opening day and beyond,” Ms Mullard said.

The Morisset course is picturesque and lush. But it wasn't always that way. Picture: David Stewart

The Morisset course is picturesque and lush. But it wasn't always that way. Picture: David Stewart

The course grew to 18 holes in June, 1976.

Ms Mullard said the first ‘clubhouse’ at Morisset comprised three buildings trucked onsite from the former RAAF air base at Rathmines.

And the original pro shop was a tin shed that became stinking hot in summer.

The existing clubhouse was opened on June 12, 1983, she said.

Ms Mullard’s daughters, Louise Mullard and Marion Baldwin, followed in their parents’ footsteps and became keen golfers.

Louise Mullard, a former professional player who learned the game at Morisset, said the bunkers and dams that are so integral to the course today weren’t always there.

“[Back then] the mounds around the green were more prominent than they are today. They took the place of bunkers and required less maintenance,” she said.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a passionate golfing family. At every opportunity Dad would be on the golf course. Marion and I would often be with Dad at the club after school.”

Ms Baldwin said a large part of her childhood was spent on the course.

“I had to learn the rules and etiquette of golf and caddy for a year before I was allowed to then play in the ladies comp,” she said.

Fees for juniors were just $2 per year – a move to encourage young players to take up the sport.

“Clubs were expensive, and I was left handed so I only had a few clubs and a putter,” she said.

“That made club selection easy!”

On Wednesday, Morisset welcomed a field of 140 women for a round of golf and lunch, with visitors from as far afield as Pacific Dunes (Medowie) and Shelly Beach joining the celebration.

Read more