The following are excerpts from the booklet 'The Story' compiled by Kevin 'KC' Chester.
In the Beginning
During the second world war years, some of the soldiers camped at the showground (as it was then known), and played golf as a recreational pursuit. They had formed themselves a rough layout that served the purpose. In those days the area was used for ploughing competitions during the local show times, it is said there was a bush race track circuit there as well. When the show ceased at Paterson the area was left undisturbed for many years and became overgrown with very thick scrub.
The 1971 Attempt
On the 18th of June 1971 at the Courthouse Hotel, Paterson a meeting of interested persons was held to investigate the possibility of a three-hole practice course in the area to the west of the Cricket and Tennis facilities within the showground complex. These people became the foundation members of the hotel social golf club. A triangular layout was decided upon and work commenced on a volunteer basis at weekends. It was very hard work mostly done by hand with picks and shovels and hand tools. Over a period of some months, the members at working bees gradually became fewer as the manual labour began to take its toll. The final meeting of the social golf club (of that time) was held on the 7th of November 1971. No further progress on the course was carried out after that date and the idea was abandoned. The social club remained, however, and was revitalised in the 1980s when the lease of the Courthouse Hotel was taken over by Richard Smith, who was a keen golfer and encouraged others to play social competition games on a monthly basis, these games were mostly played at the Dungog course. When he left the hotel and moved to Sydney the club continued under various committees and visits were made to other courses in the district. These monthly outings were usually well attended by players with varying degrees of skill in the game of golf.
1991 | The Challenge
In August 1991 it was suggested to KC that they should again investigate the possibility of building the three-hole course that never eventuated in 1971. After giving it a lot of thought, KC decided to have a good look at the area to determine if it was feasible. His assessment was that it could be done but would take an enormous amount of hard work and a great deal of commitment. He approached other golfers within the social golf club reminding them of the failed attempt in 1971, and the support was encouraging. An application was put forward to the Sports Ground Committee of the Dungog Shire Council, to construct a three-hole practice golf course in the area west of the sports ground. The project was given approval by the committee.
Stage 1 Begins | September 1991
It was a weekday in September when KC began the task that was to take just over three years to bring to fruition. Along the way, there were to be many obstacles, heartbreak, a lot of sweat, a little blood, and at times feelings of complete desperation and disappointment. The greatest hurdles were lack of funds, shortage of machinery, and keeping the commitment and dedication of the volunteer workers. A loyal band of believers, mostly the ladies of the club, combined to raise as much as possible, and the activities made sure the work could continue.
Forming the Fairways
The first thing to do was to clear the scrub to form the fairways but leaving the big trees intact, then remove all the stumps left in the ground and this was achieved through the generosity of Mr. Allan Fairhall who offered the use of his machinery. During the winter of 1992, the massive heap of scrub was burned and so the fairways began to take shape. After the area was cleared it became obvious to KC that a further two short holes could be fitted into the plan and so the course became five holes. Throughout the early part of 1993 work mainly consisted of consolidating the fairways and setting out the putting greens and tee mounds. The main water supply to the course was an old dam located in the centre of the area. With the help of men and machinery, the old dam was pumped out and tons of mud and silt were removed until the rock bottom was reached. The rain came within a few weeks and the dam was filled. A pump and irrigation lines were set up to take the water to the putting greens as soon as grass was laid. A request was made to Dungog Council for native trees and shrubs, these were supplied and some 200 were planted as borders and screens throughout the golf course. In June 1993 an application for a grant of $2500 was made to the NSW Dept. of Sport, Recreation and Racing to assist with the construction of putting greens and tee mounds. Later that year the Council planned to demolish the old weatherboard toilet block at Tucker Park but, after a request from the Golf Club, donated the building on the condition of its removal. It was dismantled and transported to the golf course where it was reassembled as a storage shed for plant and equipment. It became evident that a lot more money was required than we could raise with raffles etc., so KC decided to approach local businesses for support, the response was favourable and a number were willing to contribute in return for advertising the course.
Constructing the Tee Mounds & Green Complex's
Towards the end of December 1993, we learned that our application for the government grant had been successful, and combined with funds granted from our sponsors, the cost of construction, drainage, irrigation sprays, and planting of the greens was covered. By the end of January 1994, the greens and tees were completed. About this time in early 1994, a long dry spell of weather commenced and lasted for 6 months, thus threatening our challenge. Eventually, the rain came and we survived as the land turned green again. From this point, the course rapidly began to take shape and in August 1994 a green keeper was employed by the golf club to bring the greens up to playing standard. By September 1994, the course was ready for play.
The Official Opening | 1994
On Sunday the 30th of October 1994, the first five holes of the golf course were officially opened to the public by the Mayor of Dungog, Councillor Allan Fairhall in conjunction with the State Member for Maitland, Mr. Peter Blackmore. The ceremony was attended by a large crowd of members, supporters, and interested parties.
Stage 1 Reflection by KC
"now that we had achieved our aim and reached the goal I had set, I look back over the three years it took to accomplish and feel a deep sense of pride at the realisation we had overcome the setbacks, answered the skeptics, and created a sporting venue which has enhanced the area. Through strong will and determination, we had beaten the odds and answered the challenge."
It soon became apparent that the supply of water from the dam would not be enough and we would need a backup supply. An old pipeline, which was used by the old milk factory to carry water pumped from the river, was located, this line ran the length of William Street and, after repairing several leaks and extending it to the golf course, water could be pumped from the river to help maintain the storage level in the dam during dry periods.
A small house was offered for sale to the golf club on the condition it is moved from the railway land on which it was situated. The club did not have the money to make the purchase, at the time, but the benefactor took it upon himself to buy the house and donated it to the golf club. The house was transported to the course to become the nucleus of a clubhouse.
Stage 2 Begins | April 1995
Work commenced on the clearing of the four remaining fairways. The club was again fortunate to gain the help and expertise of Mr. Tony Randall, who volunteered to operate his own heavy earth-moving equipment for the construction of the fairways and the forming of putting greens and tee mounds. The work proceeded slowly and was often interrupted by inclement weather. By September 1995 the irrigation pipes to the extended area of the course were laid and the final four greens and tee mounds were well underway. In February 1996 the new putting greens were constructed and the drainage work completed. At this stage all that remained to be done were minor projects to complete the work on the new part of the course in preparation for its opening to the general play, this was hoped for by the coming of Spring 1996.
Opening of the Final 4 Holes
The final four holes were opened for play on 22nd September 1996 to coincide with the golf club's monthly competition day. An official opening ceremony - with the dedication, of Mr. Randall's contribution, to the memory of his late wife, was carried out once again by the Mayor of Dungog, Mr. Allan Fairhall, in conjunction with other distinguished visitors and guests on the 26th of October 1996.
Paterson Golf Club wishes to acknowledge the people, men, and women, too numerous to name, whose commitment to the cause by giving their time, labour, use of machinery, financial support, or in some cases just good old moral support, they enabled the idea to become reality, we thank you all sincerely for without them it would not have been possible.