On the 22nd April 1939 Mr J.R. O’Keefe (Chairman Queensland Golf Union) drove the first golf ball from the first tee to “officially” open Ashgrove Golf Club. Ashgrove became the 14th golf club in the metropolitan area. Those were the days when ex-dairy farm cowbails served as the Clubhouse, when caddies could be hired for a shilling and sixpence and the most valuable asset of the Club was one horse. Seventy three years of evolution has seen the original 9 hole layout blasted, gouged and moulded to form the current 18 holes. Ashgrove Golf Club today stands as one of the most picturesque courses in Queensland.
One of the Club’s boundaries is Waterworks road, which was and still is the singular main access to The Gap from the city centre. In early settlement days it was part of the main road to Ipswich. Waterworks road meandered its way through The Gap to Brookfield and on to Ipswich. There was a quarry in Bennetts road which supplied the granite for the University of Queensland buildings.
A chance remark by a visitor, George Rigby, regarding the potential of Mark Winstone’s land as a golf course inspired Mark Winstone to establish and sponsor one. This was quite remarkable as Mark Winstone had never hit a golf ball. His wife’s cousin, a golfer, agreed with the idea and walked the area to prove it was a possibility. This land plus the property of Tom Winstone (north of the creek) totalled 64 acres which was enough for 9 holes.
The next step occurred when a few interested gentlemen held a dinner at Rowe’s restaurant. Here it was decided to call a further meeting, at which the Club was formed. The course was designed by Stan Francis and work began in June 1938. The team responsible for this task were Mark and Tom Winstone, George Shepherd and David Smith. The work was carried out by horse and plough and hard labour. Granite boulders were blown out and buried. The “rock” in the 3rd (now 5th) fairway was too large which gives an idea of the immensity of the task. The committee met 21 times during the first 6 months to iron out difficulties, establish rules and generally get the Club off to a good start.
The first AGM was held on the 31st October 1939 and the total membership was 201 (120 men, 60 women, 20 provisional members and 1 junior). Here is an extract from the Sunday Mail, 23rd April, 1939. “All metropolitan clubs were represented at the opening, the President of Ashgrove Golf Club (Mr Bruce Shearer) said that he was confident that the enthusiasm of the committee would carry the Club to success. The Chairman of the Queensland Golf Council said that golf was making great progress, he then drove the first ball off the tee and was presented with a silver tee as a memento. B.F.R Stafford and J. Lyons from Gailes won the four ball competition.
The original dwelling on the course was owned by William Henry Paten and was named “Aylesbury Villa” after the home in Buckinghamshire England where the family came from. This old farm house was being sold in Kayes road was bought and moved to the site. The bails, barn and cream house of the original residence were demolished and further modifications were made to turn the house into a Clubhouse. The old lounge room of the residence was used as the Members lounge for many years. The Clubhouse remained in this form until 1976. Major alterations and additions were made in 1976 and most of the original dairy farm house still existent was demolished during this time.
The original survey by Mr Francis was for 18 holes (the Club held a lease over the adjoining army land), sadly the members were unable to finance the completion of the layout and the lease lapsed. The original 9 hole layout existed for many years. The course was extended to an 11 hole layout in the 1950s and this layout persisted for many years.
The push for 18 holes began in earnest during the early 1980s. The course was extended to 15 holes. Genuine excitement was apparent around the Clubhouse when it became know that the committee had entered into negotiations for the purchased of land to the west of the course. However the cost of getting the land rezoned proved prohibitive. Fortunately council land to the east of Bennetts road was made available to the Club in 1984. The once quarry, rifle range, dump and bicycle race track was shaped into 3 new holes and Ashgrove Golf Club became an 18 hole layout. The 18 holes were finalised and opened for play in July 1986.