Historic Film of Golf Club Opening

BY PATRICK O'CONNOR

The Heidelberg Golf Club recently donated to the NFSA a silent 16mm black-and-white film dating from the 1920s. It shows land being inspected for the new golf club site, the official opening of the Heidelberg Golf Club by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1928, fashions at the annual Arbor Day celebrations and footage of the clubhouse and golfers on the course.

Scouting Heidelberg in the 1920s

This excerpt features a group of men exploring the proposed site for the new golf club. It gives a glimpse of the rolling hills and countryside around Heidelberg in the 1920s as well buildings on the property. 

The Heidelberg Golf Club was established after 37 members of the Yarra Yarra Golf Club at Rosanna opposed moving the club to the sand belt at Oakleigh. Determined to provide a club for the suburbs north of the Yarra River, ten of the club members paid a deposit to buy land in Lower Plenty to form the Heidelberg Golf Club in 1927.

On the property were several buildings. The homestead Bryn Teg (Welsh for 'small hills') became the clubhouse; there was also a cottage and the Plenty Bridge Hotel.

Official Opening by the Prime Minister

The Heidelberg Golf Club was declared officially open by the then prime minister, the Right Honourable Mr Stanley Bruce, on Saturday 23 June 1928. This important event for the Lower Plenty district attracted over 600 people and provided many photo opportunities for the Melbourne press. It featured in all the local newspapers and made the front page of The Sun News-Pictorial newspaper in Melbourne.

A keen golfer, it was Stanley Bruce who drove the first ball off the tee. With his wife Ethel, he went on to play several holes on the day.

Arbor Day fashions

This footage captures Arbor Day celebrations at Heidelberg. Observed in Australia since 20 June 1889, Arbor Day encourages individuals and groups to plant and care for trees. On 27 September 1927, the trees planted also served the function of helping prepare the new golf links.

A long line of cars borders the main building and we see crowds of people walking to the site for the ceremony. The honour of planting the trees is given to the women and children in attendance.

Teeing off and raising the flag

This clip shows a group of club members assembled on the steps of the main building and then teeing off (some merely performing practise swings).

In 1927, Heidelberg was designated a Golf Links rather than Golf Club. A links course tends to be less manicured than a parkland course. The flag raised in the clip is the Union Jack rather than the Australian flag.

Film Donation

Lindsay Bell and Jan Balgowan stand either side of NFSA Curator Jillian Mackenzie handing her a film in a container.

Jan Balgowan, Jillian Mackenzie and Lindsay Bell with the film at the Heidelberg Golf Club.

The identity of the person who shot the film is unknown, although there is strong anecdotal evidence that Mr John Alexander 'Alex' Terdich, one of the founding directors of the Heidelberg Golf Club, may have been behind the camera. Terdich was an avid sports enthusiast as well as a prominent business operator in Melbourne.

The Heidelberg Golf Club handed over the footage to the NFSA in 2018 at the club. Present were Jan Balgowan (Heritage Committee member), NFSA Curator Jillian Mackenzie and club president Lindsay Bell.

With thanks to Jan Balgowan and Neil Walker from the Heidelberg Golf Club Heritage Committee who kindly donated the film and supplied notes on its history.

Main image: Courtesy Heidelberg Golf Club