On a sunny Saturday afternoon in July 1916, about 200 of the city’s sports enthusiasts and business dignitaries gathered in the largely undeveloped veld about 10km north of the young town to officially open a golf club.
They called it Parkview, probably because that is what it offered. The clubhouse had been built on a site where Parkview Junior School stands today and was an imposing building housing a comfortable lounge, change rooms and a bar.
On an opening day a leading golfer of the time, CT Elliot, cracked a ceremonial drive northwards more or less down Denbigh Road.
Its a perverse irony perhaps that the man recognised as the original architect of Parkview golf course was … a Mr LB Waters. On all but one of the Parkview 18 holes is there a real chance of a golf ball getting wet. LB Waters came to South Africa from Scotland in the 1890s for health reasons, at the time that golf was gaining popularity in a society enjoying a quality of life enhanced by the burgeoning Reef goldfields.
Assiduous research by a Parkview member, Russell Wallace, for a book on the club’s history, reflects that Waters was the first of many great golfers who would be associated with the club, but is the dominant personality historically speaking.
Waters had won the inaugural SA Open in 1903 – a title he would win another three times – and, as the foremost coach on the Rand, was known as The Golf Professor.
A report in The Star of July 8, 1916, left no doubt that Waters was Parkview architect. A reporter sent to play around at Parkview and write about it said: ” Waters (the club pro) has done good, sound work in the architecture of the course and I say without the slightest reservation that no inland links out here have given such excellent lies on its fairways, at the first time of asking, as does Parkview.”
Research suggests also that the Parkview layout was an attempt by Waters to recreate a links-style course of his native Scotland. It would explain the narrow fairways.
In addition, Waters avoided the temptation of setting up the course to traverse the watercourse that Parkview follows (its well-known sluit). He realised the sluit would be much more of a menace if it ran parallel with the direction of the holes and, as with a real links course, provided a permanent hazard for any wayward shot for the length of the course. From the earliest days, the sluit has dominated Parkview.
At least three attempts were made to sell the land and move the club elsewhere because flooding along the sluit made the course unplayable. The Star at the time commented: “If a player should show any fancy to slice, he will be eternally damned and curse heartily the genius who endeavoured to improve on nature. The ditch at Parkview is at once its character and its weakness.”
In 1930, Parkview members banded together and bought the club from the Transvaal Exploration Company (TEC) probably because of a major change to the course.
It had remained the same since 1916, but the TEC then expropriated the land used for the original two opening holes and the two closing holes. In return, it provided the land where the current 12th to 15th holes are situated. A rather famous course designer of the time – a major Hotchkin – was engaged to design the four new holes. The expropriation also included the original clubhouse, and so, in 1930, the new one was constructed. The Parkview members, however, were quickly unhappy with the facility and, within a year, the first renovation project was begun.
More changes were made several times over the past 75 years, ending with the refurbished the venue of 2006.
Parkview’s proud history emanates not least from the eminence of some of its members. Sir Evelyn Wallers (1876-1934), who obtained the land upon which the fourth hole is located, was three times president of the Transvaal Chambers of Mines.
Bobby Locke joined the club in 1936 after winning both the SA Amateur and the SA Open at Parkview in 1935. Parkview became his adopted home, and he played at the club until his passing. The Memorial Bridge at the 13th hole keeps the memory of South Africa’s old maestro alive, and members and leading amateurs play an annual Bobby Locke Festival of Golf in his honour.
Springbok golfer Dave Symons joined the club in 1953, and was club champion on no fewer than 16 occasions, also winning one of the clubs four major competitions in five successive decades. He represented South Africa 15 times and won the SA Amateur in 1967.
The late Eric Sturgess, who won two Wimbledon tennis titles and was SA Tennis Singles champion eleven times, joined the club in 1954 and the club became a second home for him. In his memory, the bridge closest to the green on the 3rd was restored in his name and a tree planted nearby in his memory.
Parkview has always had a very strong ladies section, and the role of honour includes names such as Jenny Nellmapius, Felicity Jameson, Cheran Gerber, Joy Maree, Pam Breval, Leslie Dwyer and Barbara Allison. More recently, Laurette Maritz played out of Parkview in her days as a Springbok before turning professional.