Parkview’s golfers will be raising glasses for a good time to come as the club sets out to celebrate 2016: its centenary year. In champagne and similar frosty libations, the tributes will be offered to a club pre-eminent among golfing establishments in South Africa, blending an illustrious history with an 18-hole parklands course that is today admired for the beauty of its fairways and greens, its well-appointed clubhouse and, most of all, the friendly camaraderie among its members.
Officially, the birthday is on the first of July, but Club President, Colin Robinson, confirms that centenary celebrations will include the unveiling in February, of a statue to the club’s most illustrious member, Bobby Locke; commemoration at the start of July of the ‘first hit’ at a members’ golf day, and a gala birthday dinner in September. Celebrations to involve local residents will include guided bird walks on the course, a heritage tour, a dog show, a star-gazing evening and tree plantings.
It was on a sunny Saturday afternoon in July a century ago that about 200 of Johannesburg’s sports enthusiasts and business dignitaries gathered in the largely undeveloped veld about 10km north of the young town to open the establishment.
“The clubhouse, built on a site where Parkview Junior School stands today, was an imposing building housing a comfortable lounge, change rooms and a bar,” says Club Captain, James Fussell.
“A leading golfer of the time, CT Elliot, stepped forward to crack the first, ceremonial drive northwards more or less down Denbigh Road. The opening hole was short and slightly downhill; narrow, recently ploughed and planted, leading to a square, flat, freshly grassed green of about 25 square metres. Though there were no bunkers, pine plantations lined it left and right. Minutes later Elliott trudged off the green having taken six shots, three more than deemed necessary to finish.”
It might have seemed an ominous inauguration of the new club, but it was not so – a hundred years on, Parkview celebrates a proud heritage that spawned Bobby Locke, the country’s most successful golfer of the ‘40s and ‘50s, and several others who set a foundation for the country’s standing in international golf today.
Arthur D’Arcy ‘Bobby’ Locke won four British Open Championships, nine South African Opens, seven South African PGA Championships and 15 PGA Tour events; and was the first South African to win a major golf event, the first to defeat the best golfers in the world, both in Europe and the United States and was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977.
Parkview was home also to Springbok golfer Dave Symons, who joined the club in 1953 and was club champion on no fewer than 16 occasions, also winning one of the club’s four major competitions in five successive decades. He represented South Africa 15 times and won the SA Amateur in 1967. Having contracted Alzheimer’s disease in the 1990s, he died in 2001.
“Our honours boards in the clubhouse reflect many more of the golfing achievements that enshrine Parkview’s status as a club and course that all South Africans know and respect, and it’s deserving of the toasts offered in honour of its centenary,” says Robinson.
“As members, we are particularly proud of the reputation we enjoy for the condition of our course, particularly its greens, and of the general friendliness and welcoming atmosphere of the clubhouse. Our golfers are well respected in the golf leagues — our scratch league team won promotion in 2015 to the Gauteng premier league — and we’re increasingly enjoying support from the residents of the suburbs around us, both for our golf offering and the social activities at the club. In a general climate of economic difficulty for many golf enterprises, we are in a good place financially, and our celebrations will be appropriate to the club’s achievements.”, Robinson concludes.
Photo by Kevin Wright (Wright Photographic)