Lake Macquarie History

Sugar Valley Golf Club

The City Council of Lake Macquarie acknowledge the Aboriginal people known today as the Awabakal, as the traditional Custodians of the land, respecting Aboriginal Elders past, present and future. Lake Macquarie City Council recognise the local Aboriginal community today in all of their diversity, who came forward to share their experiences, knowledge, images and memories.

The Sugar Valley Golf Club was founded as Macquarie Golf Club in 1936 and although the Waratah GC relocated from Mayfield to Argenton in 1921, Macquarie was the first golf club founded within the Lake Macquarie local government area. Competitions were underway by midyear for both members and the lady associates.

photo: sugar valley golf club

The club developed a nine hole course in Notley's paddock at West Wallsend and enjoyed a founding membership of 35, which within a few months had grown to 100. The inaugural officials were Mr C. Ainsworth, (president), W. P. Howie (vice president), W. Littler (secretary), assisted by Messrs R. Louden, F. Deeks, T. Wylie, A. Johnston, W. Carr and T. Dixon.

In March 1938 the AGM, held at the West Wallsend School of Arts, elected as patrons T. Wylie, G. Pearce, A. Johnston & G. Woodward; president ~ Mr J. Muir, vice president Mr W. P. Howie, secretary Mr N. Delacca, treasurer F. Deeks, and captain Mr T. Auburn. In December of that year it was reported the members hoped to erect a club house early in the new year.

Formal affiliation with Newcastle District Golf Association, announced in May 1939, was just the 6th such application, following Newcastle, Waratah, Steelworks, Hamilton and Merewether. The new clubhouse, built using voluntary labour and supervised by Mr J. A. Johnston, was completed around that time, with an official opening scheduled for June 24.

Also in 1939 the president of the Central District Ladies Golf Union, Mrs A. A. Rankin inspected the links to par the course for the associates' new branch, formed under the presidency of Mrs L. Ruane. Miss E. Bird was secretary and Mrs C. Ainsworth treasurer. Mr C. Ainsworth, former club president, acted as the handicap manager for the associates.

During the early WWII years a number of fund raising galas and carnivals were held in support of (variously) the British Bombed Victims' fund, the Patriotic Fund, and a Putts to sink Hitler event, but over the ensuing years the war had a dampening effect on the use and development of the course.

Although Open Days were promoted soon after war's end in March of 1946, by August 1948 the course was vacated by the club and advertised for lease as a going concern. In mid 1950 the former members of the by then defunct Macquarie Golf Club donated the clubhouse for use as a sports centre at West Wallsend Park.

In the mid 1960s, the course, largely reverted to its original state as a paddock, was redeveloped by former Waratah Golf Club professional Keith Bedford, who re-opened the facility as the Sugar Valley Golf Club. Affiliation with the NDGA was reacquired in 1968.

photo: sugar valley golf club

Subsequently the course was acquired from mentor and former employer Bedford by Cardiff born iconic golf professional Col Johnston, together with wife Jacqui. Johnston owned and operated the club from 1972 until 2005, when he sold it to Buildev which in turn sold it to Australian Enterprise Holdings. The new owners bought the course with the intention of developing an over 55's lifestyle estate, with the Sugar Valley Golf Club sharing use of a redesigned golf course. Management of Sugar Valley in 2006 devolved to veteran professional Neville Bell, who operated the Charlestown GC proshop for 30 years.

Col was not the only Johnston to have an impact on the Sugar Valley club. His sons Peter and David have also played their part. Peter, now the head professional at Merewether, did his greenkeeping apprenticeship under his father's guidance at the club. To keep it in the family, younger brother David, who is also a golf professional, did his greenkeeping apprenticeship with his older brother as his boss.