140 ORMOND STORIES

74

I shot a golf ball in the air

Richard Nelson (1958)

 I shot a golf ball in the air.
 It came to earth
 I know not where.

In 1961 Royal Melbourne Golf Club advised Ormond regretfully that it could not host its annual Golf Day. Whether it was the inventive manner by which Bill Leslie had extracted his ball from the cavernous bunkers the previous year, we will never know. Accepting this disappointing decision with equanimity, five of us, accustomed to playing golf rather than attending lectures and tutorials on the last Friday of the mid-term, grasped with alacrity Tim Smith’s suggestion of relocating this noble pursuit. Hence the commencement of a 14 year era of Ormond men chasing little white balls down or adjacent to the verdant pastures of the Anglesea Golf Course – and a much longer tradition of playing golf together each year.

With this, the John Russell Yates Golf tournament was born. A modest-sized and reasonably-priced cup was purchased and engraved and Tim’s mother generously prepared the family Anglesea retreat for some golfing greats. John Yates was at the time a respected and popular resident chemistry tutor. He was always invited but always declined participation in this significant event on the sporting calendar, pleading that his copious skills lay elsewhere.

For many years a full 72 holes were played over the selected weekend. Predictably in due course Father Time brought about a reduction in the duration of what began to be regarded as a marathon event. Year after year Sue Nelson provided an enormous pastie made in a large baking dish and the comfort of the bedding provided by Mrs. Smith was dependent on the arrival time of the participants.

Richard Nelson reminiscing with a fellow golfer at the 2018 Et Vetera lunch.

The initial golfers were Tim Smith, Tim Iser, Adrian Kidd, John Matthews and Richard Nelson, being 4 law students and one medico. The scores registered for the initial event (and all subsequent) have been retained. They do not make pretty reading. Handicaps were awarded by a somewhat erratic and unpredictable process.

For the first year the aggregate number of “recorded” shots played was 2303 i.e. an average of 115 per round. Fortunately, over the years as the number of players increased, the skill level rose, with theologs Ivan Barker and Alan “Tubby” Parton leading the charge.

Golfers at the 2018 Et Vetera lunch: (L-R) Jim Tait, Richard Nelson, Malcolm Marquardt.

Players came and went as life took them outside of Victoria. In 1965 George Baird, then stationed in PNG, advised against the event being played on the Port Moresby course due to the prevalence of numerous hungry crocodiles. In 1967, in lieu of attendance in person, reigning champion Jim Tait sent a 3-page description of his round at the Old Course, The Royal and Ancient St Andrews. Graeme Hubbard kept returning, chasing elusive wins, although referring to the game as “beastly”.

In 1972 Malcolm Marquardt advised he had not held a golf stick since the preceding year, in no doubt an endeavour to attract the kindly eye of the handicapper. A modified event was held at Ararat in 1981 with as host, Blair Currie, then Medical Superintendent of a local hospital.

Ivan Barker was granted leave of absence when he relocated to New Jersey; coincidentally we received during this period an application to enter from a Jack R Nicklaus on a +6 handicap. In the early 1980’s a bushfire swept along the Anglesea coastline and destroyed the Smith residence that had been our accommodation.

In 2018, after 57 years, a quorum of the golfing participants attended the 2018 Et Vetera luncheon. Attendees included Jim Tait, Alan Parton, John Mathews, Malcolm Marquardt, Blair Currie, Ivan Barker, Maurice Alexander, John Hobday and Richard Nelson. Adrian Kidd and Graeme Robson were last-minute apologies; Tim Smith and Tim Iser were overseas. Unfortunately Graeme Hubbard died a week earlier as had George Baird many years earlier. They were remembered as glorious deeds were exaggerated with all due modesty.

The golfers reunited at the Et Vetera lunch in 2018.

Players came and went as life took them outside of Victoria. In 1965 George Baird, then stationed in PNG, advised against the event being played on the Port Moresby course due to the prevalence of numerous hungry crocodiles. In 1967, in lieu of attendance in person, reigning champion Jim Tait sent a 3-page description of his round at the Old Course, The Royal and Ancient St Andrews. Graeme Hubbard kept returning, chasing elusive wins, although referring to the game as “beastly”. In 1972 Malcolm Marquardt advised he had not held golf stick since the preceding year, in no doubt an endeavour to attract the kindly eye of the handicapper. A modified event was held at Ararat in 1981 with as host, Blair Currie, then Medical Superintendent of a local hospital. Ivan Barker was granted leave of absence when he relocated to New Jersey; coincidentally we received during this period an application to enter from a Jack R Nicklaus on a +6 handicap. In the early 1980’s a bushfire swept along the Anglesea coastline and destroyed the Smith residence that had been our accommodation.

In 2018, after 57 years, a quorum of the golfing participants attended the 2018 Et Vetera luncheon. Attendees included JimTait, Alan Parton, John Mathews, Malcolm Marquardt, Blair Currie, Ivan Barker, Maurice Alexander, John Hobday and Richard Nelson. Adrian Kidd and Graeme Robson were last-minute apologies; Tim Smith and Tim Iser were overseas. Unfortunately Graeme Hubbard died a week earlier as had George Baird many years earlier. They were remembered as glorious deeds were exaggerated with all due modesty.

Tell us more

Every Ormondian has their own unique experience of College life, and their own story to tell. Have you remained connected to fellow alumni through a regular event? Or does another tradition keep you in contact? Share your story with the community.

First published: 7 December 2021
Revised date: 13 December 2021

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