Kingston golf links, 1940 (AOT,
Australia's oldest golf course is the Ratho Golf Links (1840) at Bothwell, in Tasmania's highlands. Golf became more formalised in the cities, with the foundation of Newlands Golf Club in Hobart in 1896, Launceston Golf Club in 1899, Hobart Golf Club 1901, and clubs on the north-west coast in the following years. Farmers often laid out courses, and in 1906 Britain's Golf Illustrated reported: 'Away out in Tasmania … golf has made wonderful strides within the last dozen years … There are two clubs in each of the cities, Hobart and Launceston; and golf links can be found studded all over the midlands'. Golf has been continuously popular since, becoming the sport with the highest participation in Tasmania.
Tasmania produced Australia's first local-born golf champions. Elvie Whitesides, born in Oatlands, won the Australian Women's Amateur Championship in 1906. Clyde Pearce from Hobart won both the Australian Open and Amateur in 1908, and his brother Bruce was proclaimed the world's best left-hander after reaching the final eight of the British Amateur. Another left-hander, Len Nettlefold, won the 1926 and 1928 Australian Amateur Championships, and in 1927 travelled to Britain where he briefly held the course record over St Andrews' revered Old Course. Lucilla Arthur from Longford won the Australian Women's Amateur Championship in 1913, as did Betty Dalgliesh in 1964 and Lindy Goggin in 1971, 1978 and 1980. Lindy's son Mathew was Australian Amateur Champion in 1996 and successfully progressed to the professional ranks from 1997 in Australia, Europe and the US Professional Golf Association Tour.
Morton Allport playing golf in 1911 (ALMFA, SLT)
Perhaps the most significant contribution to Tasmanian golf has come from the Toogood family. Alf Toogood arrived from Britain in 1935 as professional at the Kingston Beach Golf Club, and won two Tasmanian Opens. His sons John and Peter Toogood were outstanding golfers. Peter was leading amateur in the 1950 and 1952 Australian Opens, and in 1954 was leading amateur in the British Open. Peter defeated John in the final of the 1954 Australian Amateur, leading to the famous headline TOOGOOD TOO GOOD FOR TOOGOOD. He was selected in 1958 for Australia's first team for the prestigious Eisenhower Cup, which they won against the USA. Two of Peter's state team-mates also won the Australian Amateur, Roy Stott (1968) and Brett Johns (1987). Peter's lasting contribution to Tasmanian golf is the foundation of the Australasian Golf Museum, suitably located at Bothwell, Australia's first golfing community.
The Tasmanian Golf Council was founded in 1908 and the Tasmanian Ladies' Golf Union in 1923. Both have overseen tremendous growth in golf, particularly in bursts after each of the world wars. In 2004 there were nearly 17,000 club members and over 70 courses, making golf the sport with the highest participation rate in Tasmania.
Further reading: J Pollard, Australian golf, Sydney, 1990; D Tobin, Simply Toogood, Melbourne, 2003.