Chapter Seven – Disaster Strikes (1970-73)
Fire and a New Clubhouse.

The 1970 meeting listed Membership for 1969 as 301 Members and 155 Associates, an overall total of 515. Junior members were shown as 15 males and 2 Junior Associates. The Annual report showed the 1968 City of Cairns Open had netted a profit of $1,000.00. Competition fees for 1969 had amounted to $500.00. At the time competition fees were 10 cents per player (raised to 20 cents at this meeting) and the price of golf balls was $1.00 per ball. The meeting resolved “that the incoming Committee write to the Cairns All Sports Club, reminding them of this Club’s requirements that no person may become a member of their club unless they be financial members of a recognized Golf Club and requesting assurances that will be strictly enforced.”

The Annual meeting for 1970, dealt with a request for an ‘all-inclusive fee’ “that Members be permitted to pay green fees in an annual lump sum of $20.00, such sum to be paid in full by 7th January each year”. When put to the meeting it was lost on a vote of 16 to 14.

The first Committee meeting for 1970 in December 1969 discussed ways of raising finance to build a new clubhouse. The first severe blow was received when the National Bank declined to offer any assistance, forcing the Club to formulate plans to raise finance by the issue of debentures.

The Match Committee in December advised that a schoolboy’s camp would be held on the Cairns course in May 1970, limited to 30 boys, with the boys being billeted on the course. The cost would be $15.00 with the camp being conducted from Monday to Friday. The Special Meeting discussed the question of dress on the course and in clubhouse, and a vote was put to the meeting for a relaxation in the dress code. It was defeated by a vote. The cost of the new Clubhouse was $55,700.00. This included all costs, excluding refrigeration. It was also advised that the shell of the building could be built at a cost of $30,000.00 and completion date from 4 to 4-1/2 months.

The printing of score cards was brought before the June meeting and resolved that only one card be printed for both Members and Associates. Until this time two sets of cards were printed.

The Clubhouse was to be built in five stages. The fire altered this with Locker rooms, Pro. shop and Steward's quarters opened in 1973.
Note 1– Considering the number of builders who were Members of the Club, the selection of the Tender from B. P. Constructions would be queried for years to come. The principals in this firm who it was suggested employed practices that left much to be desired. The workmanship in the building of the Clubhouse was poor, with Committees continually outlaying finances to fix construction faults.
Note 2– On Christmas night 1970 the building housing the Cairns Golf Club was burnt to the ground. The Clubhouse was insured for $30,000.00, and furniture and plant a further $6,000.00. Working bees were called, and the remains were cleared the same day. The remains are buried to the left-hand side of the present 4th green. One member of the working bees was the Cairns Fire Chief, who issued his approval for the work to proceed. Over the years many rumours have circulated regarding the fire, but none have ever been proven.

The fire started of its own accord on the night of Christmas Day 1970 and had reached a stage where it became noticeable by passersby. The first people on the scene were a fireman and a passing policeman. Presumably, they tried to contain the fire, but were unable to do so and somehow got a call to the local fire brigade. By the time of the Brigade arrival the building was destroyed.

The Annual General Meeting for 1971 was held in the new Clubhouse on 23rd November 1970. The Membership for 1970 was 325. Members and 150 Associates, an overall total of 520.

The new Clubhouse was under construction, but incomplete, when the fire struck. By the end of the week a refrigeration unit had been obtained, portable flooring had been obtained from a local timber merchant, and a bar placed inside a locked shed which serviced Members and Associates until the new Clubhouse opened. A Special Committee Meeting held on the 20th January 1971 discussed the opening of the Clubhouse. The opening date was set for the 6th March 1971.

Samuel Allens guaranteed a loan of $30,000.00 to be taken out by the Club, but had strings attached, centering around the purchase and sale of alcohol. Conditions of the loan were that it must be repaid in 8 years, during which time only certain brands of beer were to be sold by the Club. This would cause problems with drinkers of the Club, especially those drinking XXXX beer. It would be some time before the tie-on beer brands would be broken.

As mentioned in a previous chapter the camaraderie introduced by these temporary arrangements bonded the Club. After games the players would sit on stools, or the ground, and have a drink and yarn with their playing partners.

Captain and Vice-Captain clashed over the closing of the course on Saturday 13th March. Due to the condition of the course, the Vice Captain closed the course early in morning, and upon his arrival later in the day, the Acting Captain exercised his delegation, as Acting Captain, and reopened it. This caused a Special Committee Meeting to be called to discuss the matter. As a result of the meeting, notices were placed in the Clubhouse expressing the regret of the President and Committee for the misunderstanding. It is possible this was the first time that the course was declared unplayable, it was not until 1999 that it would be closed again, by the Greens Director, Gary Werder, again due to wet conditions.

The November meeting discussed the workmanship displayed in the construction of the new Clubhouse, and “that a letter be written to the architects expressing disapproval of the workmanship in the Clubhouse and advising that the balance of money owing to the contractors, will be withheld, pending discussion with the Architect, on a number of faults to that had to be rectified, to the satisfaction of the Building Committee.”

The question of dress, both in the Clubhouse and on the course, has been of concern to Committees and 1972 was no exception — the matter was discussed at three meetings during 1972. A motion was moved, “that thongs may be worn, without socks, in the bar area, provided the member is otherwise neatly dressed”. When put to the vote it was defeated. At a second meeting in February, it was discussed with the meeting agreeing to a relaxation, permitting thongs for a trial period of 3 months. The approval was withdrawn at the 1972 June meeting.

Mr. R. Garson, advised that more use was to be made of time sheets during 1972, with the last hit off being 1.30 pm. He advised of a Friday afternoon competition being reintroduced and of a working bee organized to mow parts of the course.

A Special Meeting in May 1972 elected a new Professional.

  1. — A retainer of $20.00 be paid
  2. — The Professional to pay for all local and trunk calls.
  3. — The Club be granted a discount of 10 % on all purchases. 4. — Visits to other clubs to be approved by Committee.

The April meeting agreed to the purchase of 56 lockers at a price of $27.00 per locker. With advice to members that lockers could be purchased at $30.00 each. The purchase agreement advised the lockers could only be purchased for a period of 10 years, after which they would attract a yearly rental.

1973 was the Golden Jubilee of the Club, achievements of the Club during this year were:

  1. 1st Tour by Professional Women Golfers in July.
  2. Qld. Close Championships with City of Cairns.
  3. Approval for the first Course watering system.

An Extraordinary Meeting on 22nd October gave approval for the Committee to strike a levy for the installation of an automatic watering system, provision of power to the pump site, and the completion of the dam. Costs were listed as $33,700.00. The Club received a subsidy of $10,362.00 from the State Government. The levy was spread over two years of six-monthly installments of $20.00 for members and $10.00 for associates. Couples paid a combined six-monthly levy of $30.00. Due to the Government subsidy, the Committee in December 1973 reduced the levy to $60.00 for men, $25.00 for females.