A meeting to establish the Yallourn Golf Club was held at the Yallourn Tennis Pavilion on the 1st of May, 1926. Subsequently, the State Electricity Commission (SEC) advised that they would grant the Club 85 acres of land suitable for a golf course, at a site about half a mile from the Yallourn Township. Plans were prepared for the first 9 holes by Mr. G.D. Jones, an enthusiastic golfer who was also the SEC’s Head Surveyor.
Work began almost immediately on the site, which was located across the road from the Yallourn Hospital. During construction, the newly formed Club conducted its competitions at the Morwell Golf Club. on the 9th of June, 1928, the Course was officially opened by the inaugural President of the Club, Mr. C.H. Kernot, who drove the first ball in the 9-hole stroke competition which he subsequently won.
The Club was very successful in its formative years, and expanded from 9 to 12 holes and then 18 holes by obtaining land on the Hospital side of the road. In these formative years, the Club supported the Hospital by running an annual Charity Golf Day, with all proceeds going to the Hospital Auxiliary. This charity day continued right up until the closure of the Moe Hospital in the mid 1990’s.
During the bushfires of 1944, the Clubhouse was burnt down. It was replaced by an ex-Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) building from Sale. However, by 1949, the SEC advised that the land currently occupied by the Golf Club would be required for further development of the open cut coal mine early in the 1950’s, a fate also destined for the entire Yallourn Township. Negotiations with the SEC resulted in the Club being leased Crown Land located on the Newborough side of Yallourn, and it is at this site that the Club remains today.
The new Course was designed and laid out by a long standing Member, Mr. H. Born, who was the Chief Surveyor of the SEC in the Latrobe Valley. His principle in the layout of the Course was related to the fact that at that time, golf was considered a winter game, with play commencing in the afternoon. He determined that players should never have to ‘look into the sun’ during play.
Considerable voluntary labour was involved in the relocation of greens, the Clubhouse and equipment from the old site to the new site. By 1953, the move was complete, and a rudimentary Course established. On most nights and weekends, Members of all categories were able to be seen moving along the fairways in a line, picking up sticks, stones and other debris to enable the virgin fairways to be levelled and sown. A Member, who had an earth-moving contracting business, constructed an earth-walled dam on the Course, and another high-ground dam above the Course to enable a watering system to be established to service the greens, tees and fairways.
In 1957, with the Course and Clubhouse facilities steadily improving, the Club applied for, and was granted, a liquor licence.
By 1960, there was a need to upgrade the Club’s water resources, particularly the drinking water. Members with trade backgrounds in plumbing laid a 3km supply line from the Yallourn Reservoir to a holding tank above the Clubhouse and then on to the Club. The Club was able to purchase both treated water and untreated water (For Course purposes) from the SEC and therefore become independent of seasonal weather conditions.
Additional second-hand buildings were purchased in 1965 to provide Men and Lady Members with locker rooms and other essential facilities. By 1970 it was becoming apparent that the cost incurred in maintaining the Clubhouse to an acceptable standard was becoming excessive, and the decision was made to build a new Clubhouse. A co-operative was formed to secure a Government guaranteed loan of $24,000. Additionally, Members contributed $2,400, and this, together with Club funds, was sufficient to get the project underway.
As there were ample Members in the Club with professional and trade expertise in the building industry, the design, construction and fitting out of the Clubhouse was carried out voluntarily by these Members. The only notable exception to this was the brickwork, which was done by a contractor. It is worth noting that many Members gave up much of their golfing activities to facilitate the project during the 33 months it took to complete the work, with their only reward being the satisfaction of contributing to a building project that would enhance the area, and benefit all Members and visitors to the Yallourn Golf Club for many years to come.
The existing Clubhouse was officially opened in 1973 by the President of the Victorian Golf Association (VGA), Mr. J.R. Lovett.
By the end of 1973, the Yallourn Golf Club had a total membership base of 1030 Members, including 490 men, 200 ladies, and the remainder embracing life, honorary and non-playing memberships. The Course had become the venue of many important golf events, including the Eastern Victorian Championships.
From 1976 onwards, membership slowly declined due to the establishment of the Morwell Golf Club and the steady demise of the Yallourn Township. The resettlement process of the Yallourn Township resulted in the Yallourn Tennis Club re-establishing their facilities on the land leased by the Golf Club, and whilst they initially operated as a separate entity, they were eventually absorbed to be a part of the Golf Club. In 1978, as part of the resettlement project, the Yallourn Heights Estate was established, partly on land leased by the Club.
In 1984, the Club was given permission to connect to the sewerage system servicing the Yallourn Heights Estate, and once again Members with the necessary expertise performed the work on a voluntary basis.
The Course watering system had deteriorated significantly by 1986 to the point where replacement was the only remedy. A bank loan was negotiated to cover the $36,000 cost of the project and again the major part of the work involved Members who carried out the work on a voluntary basis. The work involved included a new pumping station, underground electrical supply to the station, an underground water reticulation system servicing the green, tee and fairway sprinklers, and a semi-automatic electrical control system.
By 1990, Membership was rapidly declining due mainly to the reduction in SEC personnel, and the effects of the recession. The Club’s administration had to take action to enable the Club to function within its income, and thus services and staff were reduced. Members again rallied, and volunteers from the ranks of retired Members undertook work on the Course and Clubhouse.
Currently, the Club employs three full-time employees – two Greens Staff who look after the Course, and a Club Manager. Since 1990, Members have contributed, on average, in excess of 100 hours per week, and significant contributions have come from the Lady Members who have run catering for both routine and ad-hoc functions.
Over the past decade, there have been major improvements made to the Course. Trees no longer required have been removed by Members with the appropriate equipment, and the Club’s dams have also been de-silted. Additionally, the privatisation of the Yallourn W Power Station has resulted in an alternative source for the Club’s treated water supply, and again Members carried out major parts of this project.
During the 1990’s, the Club purchased the land it occupies today to ensure the Course and surrounds will be continued to be enjoyed by Members, visitors and the community well into the future.
In the year 2000, the Club commenced its Couch program, and over the course of 6 years, the fairways were sprigged with Santa Ana Couch. The drought tolerance and considerably lower maintenance of Couch has resulted in fairways of the highest quality, and playability all year round. The foresight shown in doing this means that, today, Yallourn enjoys the best conditioned Course in the region.
Cell memberships were introduced in 2005 in an effort to attract and boost membership numbers. This move has proved to be successful, with the membership base in all categories increasing since.
In 2006, the Clubhouse was completely gutted and refurbished, creating a modern facility housing a Members Room and large Function Room. The front of the Clubhouse was improved, with the construction of a large deck overlooking the 17th and 18th holes.
The Yallourn Golf Club hosted its first Pro-Am in 2010, attracting high class professional golfers to the Course. The event was held again in 2011, and is now an annual fixture in late February / early March.
In 2011, a 200+ lot subdivision surrounding the Course was approved for development. As part of this process, three brand new holes, each professionally designed, will be created, while the present 2nd, 3rd and 4th will eventually be closed. With construction due to begin later in the year, this exciting development will ensure the Yallourn Golf Club remains a high standard Course for everybody’s enjoyment.
The history of the Yallourn Golf Club is more than a sequence of events as has been outlined above. It is a history of people, and of communities, who have contributed to the Club over the decades. Members of all walks of life have contributed their expertise and passion in all fields to advance the Club and help it to arrive to its point in history today, with a vibrant place in the golfing community of West Gippsland, and the local community of the Latrobe Valley.