Forrest Hill Golf Club
FORREST HILL GOLF CLUB
By S.L. (Mick) Hanna
The Forrest Hill Golf Club was formed in 1948 by members of the Richard Hooper Golf Club which, until then, had played on a nine-hole course laid out in the then disused racecourse at what is now O’Callaghan Park.
In 1947 the Katanning Roads Board had decided to take advantage of a Commonwealth grant for building airstrips and construct one near the town to take up to DC3 size aircraft. The area chosen included, among other pieces of land, the racecourse reserve where the golf course was laid out. However, opposition to the proposal led to a referendum and by the time the question was resolved the grant had been discontinued.
The Golf Club was faced with disbanding or moving to another area. The management committee headed by President Gordon Beeck eventually negotiated the purchase of about 26 hectares of land opposite where Metro Meat abattoirs is now. A series of working bees by members and intending members saw the old clubhouse moved to the new area and the course laid out and constructed over the summer or 1947-48.
Finance for moving the clubhouse and of course construction was obtained by way of loans from several of the members.
As the property had been in crop in 1947 there was a lot levelling required and this was effected by using a member’s truck to tow a device, made from pieces of railway line, over the fairways. The new 12-hole course was not opened for play until Sunday, 30th May, 1948, because the late start to the season had delayed the growth of grass to cover the newly prepared fairways.
Over the next twelve years the Club prospered, but eventually the limitations of a 12-hole course prompted members to seek land for a full 18-hole course which would make the Club more attractive for prospective members and make it possible to run open events.
The committee was given the task of obtaining a new area and after numerous enquiries and inspections it was decided the most suitable place was in the then Public Works Department water catchment reserve on the eastern side of Forrest Hill Road near the reservoir. (It had originally been part of the old Pinwernying Townsite surveys of the 1800s.) The spill way on the reservoir had been raised 1.5m in conjunction with an enlargement of the bitumen catchment area to increase the town water supply, and the proposed golf course land was now below the level of the overflow.
The Club, through secretary Les Edwards, gained the strong support of the Shire Council and local Parliamentarians. Their combined efforts soon bore fruit and, in October 1960, the reserve was transferred to the Shire for use as a golf club and it, in turn, leased it to the Club on a peppercorn rental.
The services of golf course architect Murray Dawson were obtained, the new course was designed, and the fairways mapped. The fairway lengths were only stepped out and, when the tape was used for accurate distances for the printing of the score cards, it was found to be in excess of 6,100 metres long. This has since been considerably reduced.
Bulldozing for the fairways was started in November I, 1960, by contractor Gerry Whittle. Over the summer months, tees and greens were prepared by members. Townspeople had been allowed to cut firewood out of the bulldozed timber and in February of 1961 what was left was stacked ready for burning.
During the cleaning up a number of farmer members of the Katanning Golf Club offered their support in both time and equipment and this was gratefully accepted
Early in 1961 work on the three thousand pounds ($33,000 in 1986 values) clubhouse was started by building contractor Ray Kleeman, who also supplied the design. Finance for the whole projects was raised from the sale of the old course, debentures from members and a loan from the Shire Council. This, and a subsequent loan, have now been paid off.
Although the building was only half finished, the course was considered fit for play by 22 May of that year and has been in use from then on. Work on the clubhouse continued and it was completed in time for the commencement of the 1962 season.
With the continued energies of the members and the purchase of more equipment, the course developed to a stage where it was considered to be of a sufficiently high standard to stage the Great Southern Open Championships in June 1966. The club has now conducted this event several times and members have competed with increasing success, culminating in the gross championship going to the host club in 1987.
As with any progressive golf club the course continues to receive steady maintenance and improvement. Several tree planting programmes have been carried out to replace those lost through successive dry years and the damage wrought by cyclone Alby, and this has improved the look of the course. Regular oiling and maintenance of the sand greens has brought them to a stage where they are considered to be very even and equal to some of the best in the district.
The clubhouse has not been neglected either. Additions to the kitchen and member’ s area have kept pace with the expectations of members and the growing importance of the club.
Forrest Hill, while not as large or as old as the Katanning Golf Club, never-the-less fills an important place among the golfers of Katanning. It has a proud and growing tradition and will continue to provide excellent facilities and good fellowship for those fortunate enough to be among its members
Forrest Hill Golf Club
Forrest Hill Golf Club Forrest Hill Golf Club Forrest Hill Golf Club Forrest Hill Golf Club