Tucked into the rolling hills of the Buckets Way with Taree to the north and Gloucester to the south, Krambach Golf Club has been one of the jewels of the game.
Sixty five years ago, the course was forged out of the strong friendship between George Paterson and Tom Lynch. George, a non-golfer, had the property and Tom and a small band of friends locally had a keen interest in golf. The nine hole course is located on 40 acres owned by the Paterson family at the edge of the village of Krambach. A quarter acre lot was donated for club facilities and a house from Tom Lynch’s property 12km away was moved on site in 1962. The clubhouse is now full of the history and memorabilia of its sixty-five years.
Krambach is a course like no other. A condition of the lease was the continuing right of the Paterson family to graze cattle on rotation on the block. This meant a consequent need to fence the greens with four-strand barbed wire … and a necessity for local rules allowing a free drop from a cow pat and the compulsory re-play of any shot involving a ball striking the fence. The fences around the greens no doubt intrigue first time visitors. They do, however, appreciate it when they find the fence gates are always placed on the away side toward the next tee. Think of that! Never a wait on the fairway while inconsiderate players retrieve carts and buggies in front of the green. Now, wouldn’t that be a good idea?
Another perennial feature of events at Krambach is the hospitality of the club and its members. The club house atmosphere is like no other course I have experienced in a wide range of memberships in metropolitan and regional New South Wales.
My first experience was at the 2016 charity open day with a full field of 70 or more golfers. The hour or so period before the shot-gun start was an atmosphere closer to a regional show than that a golf club event. Carts were decked out in ways beyond description here, tractors and quad bikes were converted to the function of two and four person carts and a carnival atmosphere for an hour or so before the start left me regretting I had left my camera at home; and … thousands of dollars were raised for the Westpac Air Ambulance.
For all sorts of reasons, the club will close on June 30 and the last men’s open was held on Sunday. Open events generally attract a wide field of visitors from the region and beyond and this year was no exception with players from 14 clubs represented: Krambach, Gloucester, Wingham, Taree, Tallwoods, Denman, Walcha, Everglades, Bulahdelah, Karuah, Forster-Tuncurry, Stroud, Kew and Kiama.
Mark Johnson from Karuah won with a scratch score of 67. Runner up was Rod Brown from Wingham (72). B-grade winner was Dan Hansen from Forster-Tuncurry (76) two shots ahead of Franz Schubert (Wingham) on 78. Michael Coleman (84) from Bulahdelah won C-grade on a count back from Stroud’s David Munday (84).
Honours in the net events were: A grade: Geoff Matherson (Bulahdelah-66) and Terry Overhall (Forster-Tuncurry-68); B grade: Glen James (Everglades-66) and Paul Muir (Wingham-67); C grade: Rick Hansen (Kiama-62) and Andrew Badham (Krambach-65).
Lining up at the start I ran into Michael White a former junior golfer at Krambach where he was club champion on three occasions winning the NSW junior title in one year and going on to represent New South Wales. He was a contemporary of Jack Newton and Greg Norman at the school for professional training, missing the cut there but proceeding to 42 open wins in NSW including wins in the Kogarah Open 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978 and an invitation to the British Open in 1975. Michael is just one small but significant part of the tradition at this fine club.
It was for all of us a day not just of good golf but of great nostalgia. Tom Paterson, son of the owner of the land, now 86 and still playing good golf at Krambach, has some wonderful memories of the club’s 65 years – a few weeks of play in wellington boots during a particularly wet season in the 1980s, a temporary green created during the few weeks a plover nested on the fifth green and his first golf lesson from professional Bill Bolger, a former winner of the Australian Open. Secretary Pam Paff recalls when she first arrived in the area playing a few weeks consecutively and, when she missed a round, was called at home to see if she was okay. This kind of concern and welcome was a big part of why she and her husband Ric, the current president, decided to stay in the area.
Krambach’s “last day” will be celebrated on Sunday June 25 in a member-only day of golf and hospitality. On one hand, I am saddened by the thought of the course’s closure, and, on the other, uplifted by the experience I have had there and heartened by the way the game can adapt to meet the needs of people interested in golf in a multitude of circumstances. Our great game is to be enjoyed, within the rules of golf, in a multitude of ways not always precisely matching that of our metropolitan colleagues.
Vale Royal Krambach.
(Peter is the Taree Golf Club captain)