History

1950 was the year William (Bill) Coffey, a keen golfer who owned a drapery store in Maroochydore, learned of the existence of the Horton trust land through the manager of the ES&A Bank. Mr Coffey and Mr Fred Jacobs, from the local pharmacy, organised a public meeting with the intention of forming a golf club utilising the trust land.

A meeting was held on June 15, 1950, in the Star Theatre. 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.

In February 1956 approval was sought from the Queensland Golf Union 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 (female members) for their contribution. By now, the club 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.

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.

In 1970, 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.

About the same time, 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.

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.

Charlie’s Nine
A nine-hole competition was 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.

Monday Club
Mal Robertson and Paul McCudden formed the Monday Club. It is very popular with players who have to work on weekends and, though still strongly focused on the Maroochy River Golf Club, plays at other Sunshine Coast courses throughout the year.

Veterans Club
Founded by Norm Wadsworth, Jack McArthur, Reg Wadsworth and Arch Woods, the Maroochy River Veterans are a member of the Sunshine Coast Veteran Golfers Association Inc. and affiliated with the QId Veteran Golfers Union. The club 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, it has helped to produce many fine golfers.

The 1980s and 1990s saw rapid growth to both the district and Horton Park Golf 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.

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 more than 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, father of current member Mark McDonald, left the club in 1981 to be replaced by Greens Superintendent Mr Pat Pauli.

From 1988 to 1996 the course underwent major redevelopment under the direction of club president Mr Kevin Byrnes and Mr Pauli.

Kevin was awarded a Life Membership in 1996 for his work

With residential and commercial development encroaching upon the golf course, the Horton Park board and management took proactive steps to ensure its future survival and entered into an agreement with merchant banker Babcock & Brown to sell its 53ha of land, and relocate to a new course which would be built on caneland west of Kunda Park. Babcock & Brown and the club would jointly develop the site.

That plan broke down when the Global Financial Crisis struck and Babcock & Brown was not able to proceed with the deal. Instead development company Lend Lease brokered a deal in which it would purchase the Horton Park land, and our club would buy Twin Waters Golf Club from its Japanese owner, and move there.

This proposition was put to the Horton Park membership at three separate Special General Meetings, and was defeated each time – twice by the narrow margin of three votes. At the same time, Sunshine Coast Regional Council made it clear it would resume the club’s land in order to establish a new Maroochydore CBD.

In the end, the council and the club came to an agreement. Horton Park would sell its land to the council for $42 million – and the club would use the funds to buy a parcel of land adjacent to the Maroochy River at Bli Bli and build a new golf course, complete with a modern clubhouse and practice facilities. Initially it would be an 18-hole course but there was sufficient land to build an additional nine holes. 

A ballot of the membership determined the new club would be known as the Maroochy River Golf Club.

Former champion Australian golfer Graham Marsh, a renowned golf course designer, was engaged to build the new course. In his 30-year career as a golf course designer, Marsh and his team had designed more than 15 courses across Australia and the world including Eagle Pine (Cyprus), Cottesloe Golf Club (Perth), Al Houara (Morocco), Anvil Creek (Hunter Valley) and Ancient Saltern (China).

The 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 more than 65 years ago, we welcome you to our new home, the Maroochy River Golf Club.

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