Black greens and the unique golf facilities of Woomera

Woomera Golf Course in 1965. Photo courtesy of Colin Mackellar, www.honeysucklecreek.net

Woomera in its heyday in the 1960s had a population of more than 6000 people, and an enviable range of sports facilities to cater for every possible sporting preference.

Aerial photo Woomera Golf Course, with the club house at top right. Photo courtesy of Mapcarta

These facilities included a golf course, but one that was markedly different from some of the world’s more famous courses, since Woomera is located in desert country.  It was however equally memorable, situated in sand hills north of Woomera.  The course was laid out in 1955 and designed by professional golfer, Mr Fred Thompson.

 

 

Terry Clark explains its features:

There was a golf club there. That was all soft sand dirt, and the greens were black. They were oiled and scraped. The flag that went in the hole you got to get your ball into, had a T-bar top to it, and when your ball landed on the green – it was black! – you would then scrape—take the flag pole out, turn it upside down and scrape a line to the hole to smooth out the green, which was local sand mixed with diesel oil…”

The club house

According to the Woomera Golf Club history, the first makeshift club house was constructed in 1955 from a bomb-box…

The container was large enough to allow a person to stand erect inside.  An opening to form a doorway was cut in one side together with a horizontal hinge opening to form a counter.   Electricity was not available and the only illumination was by a Tilley lamp.  An icebox was used to provide cool drinks…toilet facilities were furnished by the first available large bush.”

The bomb box later served as a bar in a new club house, and then as a tool shed. The new club house was constructed from an old Nissen hut. An amenities block was also built in 1961-2.

Although the population of Woomera is now much smaller, the Woomera Golf Club still operates. Each year it co-hosts the Desert Classic golf tournament on its 18-hole course of pristine sand.

You can read more stories about life in Woomera here.

Quote from oral history interview with Terry Clark for the Life in Woomera Oral History Project, courtesy of the State Library of South Australia (OH 1123/4).

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