Makes sense considering the town’s founder, missionary Alfred Eyles, was from Wick near Bath. In 1933, two of Alfred Eyles’ sons, Frank and Gilbert, decided to establish the Southbroom township on land that their father had acquired from the Natal Colonial Government in 1883. They envisaged the preservation of all that was best in the original landscape, with the maximum conservation of indigenous vegetation. To this end, they provided larger lots than is customary and made generous provision for parks and open spaces, including a magnificent golf course occupying over 100 acres. Southbroom was originally a 9-hole golf course. It was laid out by J Naven, then professional at Umkomaas. The course was constructed by Frank Eyles, the third son of the town’s founder, and officially opened in 1938 by P G Stiebel, President of the Natal Golf Union. Progress during the war years was very restricted, but in 1946 the Southbroom Development Company was formed to develop the estate and improve the course which was becoming increasingly popular.
Progress since then has been steady and continuous. In 1948 the course was extended into an 18-hole course and construction was carried out by the development company under the supervision of the course designer, Mr Mandy of Durban Country Club, and the co-operation of local enthusiasts and Ron Burd, the club’s first professional. Only four of the original nine holes were incorporated into the new layout. In April 1950 it was decided to form the Southbroom Golf Club. Only 8 attended the inaugural meeting out of a possible membership of 50 regular players, and Gilbert Eyles was elected first President and E A Marshall first Chairman and Captain. The enthusiasm of the small committee was terrific and gradually, in spite of inadequate funds, the club developed into one of the finest golf clubs in South Africa. The original clubhouse consisted of a single room and today is part of the house that stands left of the 15th green. The men and ladies shared a loo which was in a tin shack at the back and, per Peggy Brown, every time a lady went in there they got rocks thrown on the roof! Boys will be boys … With the increasing popularity of the course, the development company erected the new clubhouse in 1953, in the hope that it would prove a popular amenity and social centre.
Fourball from left to right: Ron Burd, Bobby Locke, Eric Marshall and swinging is Bertie Brown.
On 6th November 1954, the new 18 hole course and clubhouse were officially opened by the Honourable D. G. Shepstone, Administrator of Natal. The President and Members invited the Public to be present at the function which was followed by an exhibition match. Southbroom Golf Club has projected its thoughts and visions to the future. It now possesses the finest fairway, greens and rough cutting equipment available to produce a course that equals the finest in the country. The full time Greens Supervisor, together with his trained staff, provide a course that is not only a pleasure to play but boasts the added feature of an abundance of bird life, bush buck, duiker and monkeys that roam the tropical edges of the fairways. Today the club boasts 840 members and over 35,500 rounds per year. Visitors account for around 23,000 of the rounds.
The story goes that in 1954 an ‘exhibition match’ was staged by a four-ball comprising an archer (Verne Adams), a fisherman (Denis Burd) and two golfers (Jeanette Burd and Ronnie Burd, the then Southbroom Golf Pro). The form of play was that the archer shot his arrow and the fisherman cast his line until they were near the green, then the golfers putted out! The match was well supported and raised around ₤100 (silver collection) in aid of the fairways watering scheme.
Verne Adams – flight distance archery champion.
Denis Burd – holder of two world casting records.