A brief history on the Development of the Victorian Golf League Inc.

The Beginning

The formation of the VGL was due largely to the efforts of two men, English born Saxon William Sidderley and James
Wilson, both of the Elsternwick Park Golf Club.Sidderley founded Elsternwick Park Golf Club in 1932 seven years after the original Elsternwick Golf Club left their course for the sand belt area, and became Kingston Heath.  At the time, most public course players knew little about the rules, handicapping or competitions. Sidderley and Wilson wanted Clubs established on all Public courses with properly conducted competitions, and official recognition of their status. Jack Dillon, the Herald's golf writer, wrote in Nov 1933 “To date, public links golfers have been like sheep without a shepherd. They are outside the pale of organised golf and may not compete in open meetings. A move has been initiated to set up a governing body for public course golfers. It is planned to conduct the games played on these links, in the same manner as the VGA controls official golf." On June 14th 1935 five Clubs were represented at a meeting in Sidderley's rooms in Elizabeth Street, and agreed to form the Public Golf Links Association of Victoria. The Clubs present were:-  Australasian; East Malvern; Elsternwick Park; Hampton and Wattle Park. The objectives were to form and control, public links golf Clubs, promote interclub and pennant

games and annual championships, to improve the standards of golf, to rate public courses under the R&A’s Standard Scratch Score (SSS) system, and introduce uniform methods of handicapping in conformity with the requirements of the Australian Golf Union. The League adopted the Downing Handicap System.
At a second meeting on August 25th 1935, the name was changed to the Victorian Golf League.  Sidderley was elected Chairman, Wilson Secretary, and Russell Keon-Cohen (then President of the VFA) honorary Solicitor. A constitution was adopted by the League.
Doncaster joined in Nov 1935, and in 1936, Altona, Ivanhoe, Patterson River, Rosanna, Medway, Mount Albert, and Brighton affiliated, making 13 Clubs.
In Dec 1936, Mr James Wilson died suddenly after a short illness.  At the same time, Saxon Sidderley was challenged at the AGM for his Presidency by Colonel C. Hellier-Evans. Sidderley was defeated, and immediately left the meeting. Sidderley was elected life member in Jan 1937, but never served on a VGL committee again.  Col. Evans served the League as president for 6 years and he too was elected Life member in 1944.
Clubs initially paid an affiliation fee of £2 guineas p.a. (+2 shillings per member). In 1944 Clubs were paying £7 Guineas (+2 shillings) and by 1950 affiliation costs had risen to £12 guineas.

Affiliation

The next big task for the League was to win the right for members of Clubs to compete in Victorian Golf Association events and to have their handicaps recognised throughout Australia. They began lengthy meetings and correspondence applying for affiliation with the VGA, similar to that granted to country associations.

In June 1937 a meeting with all Club Associates (ladies) of the League was convened and it was resolved that they form their own organization, (Victorian Women’s Golf League Associates) They paid a nominal Affiliation of One Guinea per year, but ceased affiliation in 1951.
1937 The VGL affiliated with the Amateur Sports Association, which was where they had held most of their meetings since 1936. They then moved to the Manchester Unity Building until 1953, when they moved again to hire room in the Railway Institute.
After 11 years of discussions and negotiations with the VGA, and being rejected in 1937and 1939 the League tried unsuccessfully in 1944, to directly affiliate with the Australian Golf Union. The VGL was often thwarted by objections from the private metropolitan clubs who did not want League players in their open events. It took until 1947 for the VGA, to be satisfied that the conduct of events, course ratings, and handicap procedures, were up to the standards they required. The VGL was granted affiliation in 1947, and became a member of the Victorian Golf Association (VGA) giving VGL members recognized Australian handicaps, and the ability to compete in all open events.


 

 

Clubs Joining and Leaving the League

     
Many clubs such as Hampton, Sandridge, Doncaster and Mont Albert went out of existence when their land was sold for housing development. Doncaster later became Eastern Golf Club and Rosanna went to a new course when its land was taken over for development.

After the war, several strong Clubs came into the League. Among these were Lakeside (which was formed after the Albert Park Club moved to Keysborough), Eastwood, Ringwood, Glen Waverley and Moorabbin.
Many Social Clubs applied to join the League but the VGL maintained a policy of only allowing one club per course. Various Clubs were able to invest in their own courses and then transferred to the VGA namely, Box Hill, Chirnside Park, Eastern, Eastwood, Latrobe, Medway, Patterson River, Rosanna and Whittlesea.
Country clubs joined, and paid half the affiliation fees of the League’s metropolitan clubs. In the 60’s Ringwood when it was playing at Chirnside Park, tried unsuccessfully to be granted country status, due to its distance from Melbourne.Clubs such as Rye, Sorrento Downs, and Carrington Park applied for affiliation. They were admitted but were later directed to the Mornington Peninsula District of the VGA.

For a listing of Club Movements since 1935 Click here to view


The War Years

Before the war, there were 16 clubs in the league and 1282 members – Australasian, Box Hill, Brighton, East Malvern, Elsternwick,
Forest Hills, Frankston, Latrobe, Medway, Mentone, Patterson River, Ranfurlie, Rangeview, Sandridge, Sandringham, and Wattle Park. From 1941 through 1944 all Pennant and most Championships were cancelled. A four ball knock-out comp was held each year among the affiliated clubs to raise money for the Patriotic Funds.
Many fundraisers, even “talking picture” nights were held at clubs to raise money for the War effort. During the 4 years the League raised and donated £4,600 to the fund.
In 1945 the League consisted of 15 clubs and 1850 members – Australasian, Box Hill, Brighton, Elsternwick, Forest Hills, Frankston, Ivanhoe, Latrobe, Medway, Mentone, Patterson River, Sandringham, Wattle Park and Pin Hi.
By 1960 the number of clubs slipped back to 12, they were:- Australasian, Box Hill, Brighton, Elsternwick, East Malvern, Forest Hills, Frankston, Mentone,  Queens Park, Riverview, Sandringham, Wattle Park.

Competitions

The first VGL Open Championship was held at the East Malvern Golf Course in November 1935. the 36 hole event attracted
90 entries and in wet and blustery conditions Mr N Yeo of East Malvern (a former Essendon footballer) won the event with a score of 170 (82,88). The Star newspaper donated a perpetual trophy, which was lost during the war years.
In 1946 The Argus donated a perpetual Cup, and this Open Championship became the Argus Cup. The VGL restricted this event to only VGL members, as handicaps of VGL players were not recognised by the VGA for their Open Championship. In 1978 it was named the A R Martin trophy, but in 2001 it reverted back to simply, the Open Championship.
Up until 1947, VGL players were denied entry into the Sun Cup run by the VGA due to unrecognized handicaps. The Sun donated a trophy to the VGL in 1946, to run its own Sun Cup. This became the nett event at the Open Championship. In 1988 it was called the Toy Cup and in 2001 it became simply the Open Championship – Nett Event.
Annual Open Foursomes Championships and Mixed Foursomes Championships began in 1936.
The Open foursomes Shield was named the James Wilson Shield after his passing.

League Pennant commenced in 1936, and up until 1997, the League Pennant was played in 3 grades. A grade was played off Scratch, B Grade for handicaps over 12, and C grade for handicaps over 17.  Many clubs entered teams in all 3 grades.
A Veteran Championship and a Digger Championships (later called the Ex-Services Championship) commenced in 1938.
The Minor Championship, and the Champion of Champions commenced in 1945, Monthly Medals began in 1947.

(The original format was Bogey or Par golf) The Teams Event started in 1962,
Each club in the League would host a Captain’s and President’s day and other Clubs would be asked to attend. As the League grew, to minimize frequency and distance, the League established zones, and one club in each zone, would host these six annual events:-
Geelong Zone: Queens Park, Elcho Park, Belmont and Clifton Springs.

Northern Zone: Westgate, Northcote, Willmot Park, Riverview and Royal Park
Southern Zone: Frankston Australasian, Moorabbin and Sandringham.
SE Zone: Ringwood, Warrandyte, Yarra Valley and Olinda
Eastern Zone: Churchill Park, Glen Waverley, Forest Hills and Acacia
Central Zone: Elsternwick, Lakeside, Brighton and East Malvern.   
In 1985 celebrating its 50th year, the League consisted of 25 clubs: Acacia, Australasian, Brighton, Camberwell, Creekside, East Malvern, Elsternwick Park, Forest Hills, Frankston, Glen Waverley, Hillview, Lakeside, Moorabbin, Mount Martha, Northcote, Oakleigh, Olinda, Ringwood, Riverview, Royal Park, Sandringham, Tirhatuan Park, Westgate, Willmott Park and Yarra Valley.  
By 2004, the League had 30 affiliated Clubs, and in 2005, the league grew again to 32, with the additions of Growling Frogand Yarrambat.
By early 2007 the League stood at 35 Clubs, with the inclusion of three Clubs, namely Eastern Sward, a 9 hole course situated at the South Eastern Treatment Plant, Wellington Links situated at Kingston Links in Rowville, and Waterford Valley which is also in Rowville. Burnley Golf Club became the 36th Club in Nov 2007, and in March 2008 the Harp Golf Club became our 37th Affiliated Club.
At the November 2008 Council Meeting, it was sad to say goodbye to the Moorabbin Golf Club who disbanded when their course in Dingley was closed.
In 2010 The League was concerned about the competition posed by “Golf Access” programs being run by public course operators the same course where clubs were situated. These social golfers could get an Australian Handicap, outside the care and control of the club environment. It was viewed this could facilitate a migration from club membership to social golfing.
The league created a category of membership called “Restricted”, where social golf clubs could join the League at a reduced affiliation fee, obtain an Australian handicap, but would be excluded from pennant and major events, until they applied for full membership. In 2010 Scotchman’s Creek, a social weekday club at Malvern Valley Golf Course became our 38th club, and first restricted affiliate.  

At a historic meeting at the Box Hill Golf Club on February 29th 2012, the 38 Clubs of the Victorian Golf League, and the 39 clubs of the Victorian Women’s Golf League voted to amalgamate as the Victorian Golf League and adopted a new constitution.

 

Please click here to view a brief history on the Victorian Womens Golf League and

Please click here to view their Past Exucitive Committee's

 

In 2012, Golf Victoria, in conjunction with Golf Australia, decided to disband the Golf Access (formerly Golf Pass) Program, which catered for handicaps for Social Clubs and golfers. The original idea of this program, was to introduce the social golfer to a pathway into mainstream golf.

Unfortunately this did not eventuate. Some Golf Course Operators established Golf Access Centers on their course, which competed for membership, against the VGL club, already established on the course.

Golf’s governing bodies, closed golf access account in the middle of 2012, and encouraged all social golf clubs, to join the VGL, and all social golfers to either join the RACV golf program, or join a club.

As a result, the VGL affiliated 26 Social Golf Clubs in 2012 as Restricted Member Clubs. Also, some golf access centers, simply joined the incumbent VGL club on the course, who catered for them, by creating a separate “social golfer” category of membership.

 

Mirboo North

In 1989 the League started to conduct junior golf Camps at Mirboo North Golf Club in West Gippsland. These Junior Golf Camps have continued ever since, and are held for one week, in September School Holidays, every year.
In 1997 the League investigated the idea of establishing its own accommodation at Mirboo North for the golf camps. After discussions with Mirboo North Golf Club, a parcel of land adjacent to the 1st Tee, was offered to the League for a perpetual lease.
In 1998 negotiations were concluded, and the League, with approval from Council members, commenced the project to build a 13 room motel beside the 1st tee of the golf course. The "1st Tee Motel" was opened in 2002.
The motel is used by Affiliated Golf Club Members on Golf Packages. Also by Golf Victoria who conduct their Junior Golf Camps at Mirboo North. Please click on the 1st T Motel Page link on the home page for further details and bookings.