It was not until 1912 that the first golf course was built in the Penrith region. This nine hole course was rough to say the least. Constructed over several paddocks to the east of the town and bordering on the Hornseywood Estate, every Saturday jam tins were put out for holes, the sand greens were swept and the flags put up. Play was restricted to Saturday afternoons and holidays. Then, in 1920 the Penrith Golf Club as it was known, moved to land across the railway line in Glebe Place. As this was on Church of England property, the play restrictions continued. The Clubhouse consisted of a small tin shed where the ladies, who were not permitted to play, served afternoon tea.
By 1933 a second golf course, also of nine holes, on the site of the disused speedway beside the railway shunting yards at Penrith had begun. Named Thornton Hall Golf Club play was permitted on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. As a result many of the Penrith golfers swapped clubs, ultimately resulting in the folding of the Penrith Club. Problems arose at Thornton Hall however as the closeness to the shunting yards made play difficult at times with the golfers having to contend with “the black smoke and soot” which belched from the adjoining steam engines.
World War II saw the demise of both clubs. Thornton Hall was taken over by the Army and Penrith folded. However, in 1938 Leo Buring had constructed a nineteen hole course on part of his property at Leonay. Play ceased during the war years but the club was reformed in 1946 and affiliated with the Blue Mountains. By 1964 the Club now known as Penrith Golf and Recreation Club Ltd. and affiliated with the Nepean Golf Association decided to move to a new location at South Penrith where they remain to this day.
In 1968 the Leonay Golf Club was re-formed as a subsidiary of the Emu Plains Sport and Recreation Club Ltd. The large weatherboard cottage situated on the original Leonay Estate, which had been the first Clubhouse, continued in use with extensive alterations until 1978 when a new brick building was built.
The Wallacia Golf Club also has a long history, dating back to 1932 when the local men built a primitive tin shed, open on two sides with a table and bench made from bush timber. The ladies of the area formed the Wallacia Associates in 1933. At that time women could not be full members of golf clubs. When the ladies purchased their own Clubhouse in 1934 all hell broke loose. It was unheard of for Associates to own their own Clubhouse! A ruling was sought from the governing body of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland, which eventually allowed the ladies to retain the Clubhouse, but stated that this was not to be taken as a precedent.
The impetus for the formation of the golf course at Dunheved came from the realisation in 1948, that there were no recreational facilities in the St. Marys area for the hundreds of men working in the local industries. The businessmen obtained a lease on 60 hectares of the former Dunheved Estate which had become very overgrown from disuse. Voluntary labour again created a 9 hole course, which was later extended to 18 holes. The women formed an Associates group in 1952.
Glenmore Golf Course too, is situated on what was previously an historic estate. In this case the one owned by the Cox family. Golf was played here as early as the 1920s when a local dentist Don Hattersly built a course there. The estate was bought and sold several times over the following years and the golf course was used privately and as part of a Country Club from 1927. Membership fluctuated, with a revival in 1949, and major alterations from the 1970s. Today it continues to thrive as a Country Club.
Other clubs have come and gone but today golf still has a strong following in the Penrith region with ten clubs and golf driving ranges thriving in the district.
The Arms Chronicle, February 2000, p.5.
The Nepean-Illawarra District Associates Golf Association, Golden Jubilee 1933-1983.
Penrith and Thereabouts, Vol.18, September 1998, p.2.
Penrith City Council, Penrith Yearbook 1986, p.75.
Penrith Press, 10/11/87, pp.14-15.