A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SIMON’S TOWN COUNTRY CLUB
Submitted by A.E.Read
The Club commenced life 100 years ago. It began as the SIMON’S TOWN LINKS and included land down to the shore line below what is now Links Crescent. Then the name was changed to SIMON’S TOWN MUNICIPAL GOLF LINKS until 1915 when it became known as SIMON’S TOWN GOLF CLUB until 1960. In 1960 to the present date it has been known as SIMON’S TOWN COUNTRY CLUB. The Club offers Golf, Bowls, Squash and Social facilities.
At a public meeting held at the British Hotel, Simon’s Town, on Wednesday 7 January 1914, the following agreed to form an Advisory Committee:
Representing the Municipality: Messrs Runciman, Whyte and Nichols
Representing the Civilians: Messrs Boyes, Itchison and A.C.H. Miller
Representing the Royal Navy: Dr Livesay, Lt Money and F.B. Rowley
Representing the Civilian Shore
Establishment: Mr Caldecott
Representing the British Army: Captain Watkins R.E.
On Thursday 8 January 1914 the Committee under Mr Boyes (the Magistrate) as Chairman decided to approach the Commander-in-Chief to perform the opening ceremony on 14 January at 3.30 p.m.
The matter of a caretaker and temporary golf house was to be considered by the Simon’s Town Municipality as well as the purchase of a hole cutter and a mower. A Greens Committee was also formed under Dr Livesay. Mr Wilson was to engage suitable caddies who were to be paid 6d for nine holes and 9d for 18 holes. A small committee was to meet with the local cab drivers to arrange
transport from the West Dockyard gates to the Links at 6d per person.
Unfortunately the official opening had to be postponed. On 29 January 1914 the Greens Committee held a meeting to urge upon the Municipality the necessity of laying water pipes to the greens – this cost was expected to be £12. It was also decided to ask the Council to appoint a man as caretaker at £4 per month plus a house. The Secretary was also to write to Sir John Jackson to ask him if he would renew his former offer of a shelter suitable as a golf house. This seems to have been done for in 1922 on 12 January the Committee had been given a house by Sir John. In 1922 this house was to be offered to the contractor erecting the oil tanks at Seaforth. So came about the transformation of the 2nd Boer War Prison Camp. The first camp had been on the drill ground near the Martello Tower but had been closed when it proved to be of inadequate size.
Much work had to be done to make the golf course playable and improve the greens to an acceptable standard. The first work on just two of the greens was carried out in May 1914. It was pointed out by the Municipality that £400 had been spent so far and £150 of this was for rock blasting and cartage away of the rubble therefrom.
Now it was decided in July 1915 that the members should form themselves into a Club to take over full management and responsibility for the Links as from 1 January 1916 after which date the Municipality would cease to fund expenses. An account was to be opened with Standard Bank in Simon’s Town and a fund to be opened to raise money. This would be by social functions, whist drives etc. There had already been the sum of £42.10/- promised in donations from the public. Due to the war it was impossible to obtain more help to improve the Links and it was decided to carry on with just 6 holes meanwhile.
At a meeting on 11 October 1916 it was decided to press the Municipality to endeavour to obtain compensation for the damage done to the Links by the occupation of the ground by the Cape Corps. Later on there was a complaint that the mules from the Army camp were also damaging the course and the Club was asking Captain Fredericks to endeavour to help with wire fencing and standards. In May 1920 having not been able to obtain a suitable hut elsewhere the Club approached the Military with a view to purchasing 2 huts from the mule camp for £50. The Golf Club house arrived in 1927. The Committee agreed to foot the bill of £10 for its re-erection. The Links consisted of 9 holes, 6 holes on the sea side of MacFarlane Avenue and the clubhouse and 3 holes on the mountain side. 2 Holes were on Municipal property and 1 hole on Defence Property.
In the 1980s the Municipality allocated a portion of the property on the mountain side of the road for the development of Simonsrus, an old age residence for the people of Simon’s Town. The loss of this portion of the property resulted in the golf course losing 2 holes and the storage dam on the golf course. The golf course on the sea side of Macfarlane Avenue has now been converted to 8 holes with 1 hole on the Defence Property. As a result of the loss of the reservoir above the old No.2 green, a new reservoir was constructed adjoining the beach. The Club in conjunction with the Municipality constructed a weir in the storm water line on Frank’s Beach and this water was then pumped into the new reservoir. In 2007 a borehole of 93 m with a submersible pump was installed to provide additional water to the reservoir.
During 1935 a new croquet lawn was laid down. The writer presumes this is what has become the bowling green. With the outbreak of war in September 1939 the Club also stated that in the past couple of years the caddies from Simon’s Town had been drawn to working at the new Clovelly Country Club as the pay was higher.
The bowling green came up for discussion at a General Committee meeting on 8 November 1938 and it was suggested that it should be at the south side of the club on a section of Winford Estate. There were about 55 members wishing to have a bowling green. The Bowling Section did not come into existence until 1954 and today the numbers have dwindled to approximately 17 with several having retired to out-of-town Retirement Homes.
The war broke out in September 1939 and the call-up of Reservists began to take its toll in 1940 and by then Simon’s Town was also a “closed area” and out-of-town members could no longer get to the Club. The Club managed to cope during the war years with temporary members from the Royal Navy coming and going as duties required. In the minutes of 15 May 1945 the V.E. DAY CUP was instituted. In February 1945, due to having paid off their loan, the clubhouse was now their property.
In 1954 the membership stood at 140 (ladies and gentlemen) and in November 1954 the fund-raising dance raised a profit of £62.4/- which went towards the cost of a new tractor. In June 1960 the minutes record an agreement to accept 20 members from the SANF GOLF CLUB.
The Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 14 March 1962 show that the Municipality had obtained permission to sell the land (which is today between Links Crescent and the shore) for the building of houses. Originally the links extended to the shore line but the lower area had never been included in the golf course. The Municipality had handed it over to an independent committee as they found it too expensive to run themselves. The minutes of 5 March 1930 show that the new clubhouse had now been completed and it was hoped before too long they could add living quarters for the groundsman.
It was thanks to a loan from Mr A.C.H. Miller (the Club Captain) that the new clubhouse was achieved. The Committee undertook to repay a portion of the loan each year plus interest of 6% on the outstanding amount, the interest to be paid ½ yearly on 3 December and 30 June. The Minutes of 21 December 1930 show the actual cost of the new clubhouse had been £479.3.3d The Club reached its 21st birthday during 1933 and membership varied between 92 and 100 depending on arrivals and departures of dockyard and naval members. It was also the time of the great depression.
A special meeting was called for 19 May 1934 regarding the supply of water to the greens. It was suggested water from below Fairway No. 7 and adjoining the beach be pumped to a reservoir to be built above No. 2 green and then to be connected to the present greens pipeline. The Committee then decided to erect a windmill at the spring and Messrs Gearing’s tender of £170 was accepted and Standard Bank agreed to give the Club an overdraft of £150 to be reduced by £50 yearly. The Municipality readily agreed that the windmill could be erected and the Army agreed to move the rocket post from near the spring to a new position on nearby rocks. The windmill was in and working by the end of June 1934. The reservoir was officially opened in July 1934. The original plaque is currently mounted in the Country Club reception area.
In August 1960 the Club became known as the SIMON’S TOWN COUNTRY CLUB and the 2 sections (Golf and Bowls) held joint meetings. Plans for the present clubhouse were drawn up and the cost was expected to be between £8,000 and £9,000. There were now 120 members. Plans were submitted to the Simon’s Town Municipality for approval and it was stated that if the approval was given they would apply to the Liquor Licensing Board for a Liquor Licence. It was later stated that in 1962 there was still no Liquor Licence and it was recorded that the Club needed 100 full male members and at the moment there were only 75. The False Bay Echo of 17 December 1987 reported the raising of a loan of R300,00.00 to build a new clubhouse. The building of the new
clubhouse and squash courts was undertaken by the Simon’s Town Municipality in 1988.
There are 2 important memorial stones on the Golf Course. Adjoining Bellevue Road is the “Post Stone” which commemorates its time as a Boer War Prison Camp and near the Windmill (inside the Club’s boundary fence) is another stone which commemorates the archaeological dig of a Shell Midden which took place in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s and which gave valuable information on the earlier inhabitants of the area.
Post Stone Plaque Midden Stone Plaque