1950: Birth of the Horton Park Golf Club

In this year on the world stage, the Korean War erupted, Shirley Temple retired from show business and the cartoon strip, Peanuts, was first published. Closer to home, Robert Menzies was in his second term as the country’s longest serving prime minister, we were still 16 years away from converting to metric and 36-year-old Brisbane boy, fiesty Norman Von Nida, won both the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship.

It was also the year that William (Bill) Coffey, a keen golfer who had a drapery store in the small town, learned of the existence of the trust land through the Manager of the ES&A bank. Mr Coffey and Mr Fred Jacobs, from the local pharmacy, then organised a public meeting with the intention of forming a golf club utilising the trust land.

The meeting was held 15th June 1950 in the Star Theatre owned by Mr Jim Comino. Messrs W. Coffey, F. Jacobs, R.Crosby, C.A. Blakey, M. Bateman, J.K. Hungerford, T. Sproul, N. Hooper, R.E. Holtzman, McPherson, D. Garth, and Mr. Bowling were in attendance. The meeting agreed that the Club should be named Horton Park Golf Club in honour of the donor of the land.

Official Opening

In February 1956 approval was sought from the QGU to declare the course fit to play and in May 1956 Mr M.R. Hornibrook, President of the QGU, officially opened the course. At the AGM in 1956 the President reported that the clubhouse had been completed and the course open for play. A special tribute was paid to the Associates for their contribution. By now, the club now had 63 Members, 37 Associates, 3 Country Members and 1 Country Associate.  In the same year, a liquor licence was acquired through the QGU, a shed was built to house the mowers and an SS of 64 was set for the course. Mr A.G. Broughton was elected Captain and Mr A. Briggs, Vice Captain.

Club Name & Extensions

During February a novel competition was introduced when the Grange Company of Archers came to play against the golfers. They fired arrows down the fairways finishing with targets on the greens while the golfers played on. This was more of a fundraising fun day than a serious competition as the archers were unbeatable.

T-shirts for the pennant players were introduced about this time.

New Layout

Mr Arthur Gazzard, the professional at Victoria Park Golf Club, Brisbane, designed a new 18-hole layout. In a generous gesture Mr Gazzard charged only for his accommodation and refreshments.

In 1969 the council was granted an easement through the course to dig a large drain – the drain, much enlarged, divided the Horton Park course for years to come. A sign was erected in 1970 at the entrance to the course warning motorists of golf balls sailing across Sugar Road.

Sugar Road had been closed and the part from the entrance to the drain was purchased by the Club, whereby moves were made to close the remainder of the road from the drain to the southern entrance.

Clubs within the Club

Charlie’s Nine
A nine hole competition founded by Charlie Heavey, Clair Soden, Andrew Dunn, John Irvine and Joe Bourke. The Club was formed to cater mainly for golfers who were unable to play 18 holes. Later it became popular with many retired members. It is usually played Monday and Friday mornings.

Monday Club
Mal Robertson and Paul McCudden formed the Club. It is very popular with players who have to work on weekends.

Veterans Club
Founded by Norm Wadsworth, Jack McArthur, Reg Wadsworth and Arch Woods.  A member of the S.C. Veteran Golfers Association Inc. and affiliated with the QId Veteran Golfers Union. Plays away games with other clubs within the district and hosts both zone and local days, firstly at Horton Park and now at MRCG.

Twilight Club
Alf Hockey, Bob Hoppee and Frank Marr founded the Club as a nine hole competition played on Thursday afternoons. It has become very popular, particularly with School Teachers.

Junior Club
First started by Mick Neilsen and Vic Kiskopf and has helped to produce many fine golfers.

The 1980s and 1990s saw rapid growth to both the district and the Club. This growth brought rapid changes and much controversy. What had started as a trickle of visitors from southern states turned into an avalanche of new residents to the area. The small seaside village of Maroochydore was transformed into a thriving township.

New Clubhouse & Plans for New Pro Shop

The building of a new clubhouse began and Mr Fred Jacobs, a foundation member of the Club, was awarded life membership in 1980. Plans for a new pro shop were drawn up and the membership now stood at 588 with over 300 Members and 160 Associates. In May of that year it is recorded that nearly 28 inches of rain fell on the course. Greenkeeper Ernie McDonald left the Club in 1981 to be replaced by Greens Superintendent Mr Pat Pauli.

Redevelopment of the Course

From 1988 to 1996 the course underwent major redevelopment under the direction of Mr Kevin Byrnes and Greens Superintendent Mr Pat Pauli. Kevin was awarded a Life Membership in 1996 for his work.

With the reclamation of the land by the Sunshine Coast Council a few years ago, it was time to source a fresh site. And the perfect location was found on the banks of the Maroochy River.

new-club-house

When we set out to design the new 18-hole Bli Bli course, we didn’t need to look any further than Gold Coast champion golf pro, and course architect, Graham Marsh. In his 30-year career as a golf course designer, Graham and his masterful team have created over 15 spectacular golf courses across Australia and the world including Eagle Pine (Cyprus), Cottesloe Golf Club (Perth), Al Houara (Morocco), Anvil Creek (Hunter Valley) and Ancient Saltern (People’s Republic of China).

The USGA-compliant golf course at Bli Bli proved quite a challenge. Battles with flood storage issues, sulphate soils and degraded cane lands created a few headaches but in the end, Graham and his team hit a hole-in-one, triumphantly setting the highest standard in courses across the Sunshine Coast while ensuring environmental best practice.

Born of humble beginnings over 65 years ago, we welcome you to our new home, the Maroochy River Golf Club.