White River Country Club is set amongst picturesque plantations on the banks of the White River.
In addition to an 18 hole Championship parkland golf course the club boasts tennis, squash, cricket and hockey facilities, with a swimming pool adjacent to the clubhouse with braai facilities.
Conference facilities are available for up to 100 delegates with full catering facilities.
An initial meeting was held on Tuesday 31st July 1923, at the White River Hotel to meet Mr. Peck, the golf professional from Johannesburg to discuss two sites for a golf course. He explained that there were two options – the first being Gabriel’s Brook, which due to its marshy nature would be expensive to drain. The second being the “top course” lying alongside the Plaston/White River road, which would be far cheaper to construct a course on. He enquired whether they wanted sand greens or grass greens. Economics prevailed and the top course was chosen, length 3028 yards including sand greens – Cost of construction 100 pounds – annual maintenance bill 150 pounds.
A meeting was held at the Glue Pot, White River Hotel, on 5th August 1923. After discussion the following motion was carried unanimously: – That the golf club be formed and named the White River Golf Club. A total of 47 members attended – 36 men and 11 ladies. Doubts were expressed about the viability but the first Chairman – Mr. W. Webster stated “as long as I live and as long as we have 40 members there will be no shortage of funds”. Mr Webster was duly voted in as President. Entrance fees 2 guineas – subs men 3 guineas – ladies one and half guineas.
The course was first opened for play on 1st March 1924. The course was leased from Webster Estates and shortfalls were made good by Mr. Webster himself. Mowing was done by oxen and mules and the groundsmen’s favourite way of getting rid of excess grass was to spray it with paraffin and burn it off.
One of the unwritten laws of the time was that the Club would stand a round of drinks out of competition fees, but this was being abused and had to be rescinded. Caddy fees at this stage were 3d for 9 holes and 6d for 18 holes. As early as 1927 matches were played against Club de Polana (Delagoa Bay) and Barberton.
The Club barely survived the depression years of the thirties, and the war years, and at the AGM of 1947 it was explained that the club was virtually bankrupt and survived only thanks to the generosity of Vice Presidents.
On the 18th January 1949 a lease was concluded with Longmere Hotel on a yearly basis and the White River Golf Club would lease and run the hotels existing golf course. A tractor was purchased for the first time and several alterations were made to the course including some alternate tees. Meetings were still held at the WR Hotel.
It was decided to have an official opening for the newly constructed pavilion, and Bobby Locke was invited to play an exhibition match, joined by George Turner, Jim Murray from Nelspruit and Mr. Vosloo from Sabie. This exhibition was arranged for the 8th March 1951. The day was very successful and Bobby Lock donated 2 drivers to the Club to be used as prizes.
On the 12th March 1955 one of the members felt that the tractor’s running costs were too high and that we should revert to oxen. Common sense prevailed however. In 1965 a course irrigation scheme was completed.
Golf course maintenance in 1961 was R 295.00 per year, and in 1963 there was a 25% increase in subs – men paying R10.50 and Ladies R7.00. The following year the Club consisted of 107 members. During the late 60’s several new sites were investigated for a new golf course, including the Planters club, 2 sites near Rocky’s Drift, and 1 near the present Winkler Hotel. The Lowveld Sub Union was formed in early 1968.
At a special general meeting on the 19th December 1968 a trust Committee was formed to raise funds and encourage other clubs to join and form a united country club. It was decided that it was essential for the Club to own its own property and members were requested to make private loans to the Club. Mr. George Anderson stated at a meeting that Chalkley property was the most desirable for a golf course as indicated by Mr. Machielse of the Turf Research. On the 7th April 1970 it was decided that Dr. Vincent of Gary Player Enterprises would commence the design of a new 9 hole course.
At a special General Meeting on 17th September 1971 plans were submitted and it was agreed to go ahead with phase 1 of the new clubhouse – change rooms and bar/lounge only – cost R7000.00. The roof wetting was held on 7th March 1972 and on the 3rd June 1972 the committee decided to play the new 9 holes on weekends only. The Pine Lake Inn course was still being maintained by WRGC at this stage. Caddy fees 9 holes 65c + 15c tip – 18 holes R1.00 + 30c tip maximum.
In August of 1972 the Club managed to negotiate the lease of the Chalkley ground and almost simultaneously the lease was terminated with the Pine Lake Inn.
Towards the end of 1972 the first meetings were held in the new clubhouse. At this time the Planters Club joined the White River Golf Club and financed the building of tennis courts. The official opening date of the new 9 hole golf course was arranged for the 7th April 1973 and an exhibition game between Gary Player and Harold Henning was arranged. Cobie le Grange subsequently filled in for Harold Henning. The day was a tremendous success, with gross takings of over R2000.00. Early in 1974 the lease was concluded.
The first hole in one was made by John Karlsson in March 1974 and the club employed its first manager Al Smithford and his wife Topsy. Subs at this stage were men R36.00 – Ladies R18.00.
At the AGM on 3rd June 1976 it was agreed unanimously to purchase the leasehold ground for R25, 000.00. The deed of sale was finally signed on 18th. August 1977, and White River Golf Club finally owned its own golf course. The Club’s prospects were so good at this stage it was decided to appoint an assistant manager.
At the AGM of 1978 it was mentioned that both the White River Sports Club and the Flamboyant Tennis Club would probably join the WRGC and bring with them certain funds. A cricket/hockey field was completed, followed by a bowling green, (which was a white elephant), and a squash court was completed and the golf course property was finally paid off, with membership now standing at 350. We were now a complete Country Club.
At the AGM of 1981 a vote was taken to change the name of the club to White River Country Club. The blazer badge was designed by Mr. Peter McHattie showing the 3 pine trees symbolizing the 3 different golf club sites becoming a reality.
The drought of the summer of 1982 was severe and even the greens were not watered. Rain subsequently fell and the first Easter Tournament was held to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Club at its new site. Annual turnover at this stage was R120, 000.00.
In order to become independent of water from the White River a borehole was drilled with a phenomenal yield of 50,000 litres per hour.
In October 1988 a Trust was formed between the Club and RCPH and finance generated from the Longmere Timeshare was to be used to upgrade and create new facilities. A new computerized, fully automatic irrigation scheme was installed.
At the AGM of March 1989 a vote was taken to go ahead in principle with the 2nd 9 holes and a year later Golf Data were asked to design a new 9 holes and construction was started by Manfred. Ground for two holes was donated to the club by H.L.& H. and ground for holes 10 to 14 was leased to the Club by Jordan properties. With plenty of outside help from members and advice from Reg Taylor the new course was ready to play on the 19th December 1992, and officially opened by Thinus van Wyk on 20th March 1993.
At a Special General meeting in March 1996 the members authorized the Committee to make certain capital expenditure to upgrade and extend the Clubhouse, with a large injection from Condev, and to incorporate and proclaim part of the property for township development.
See attachment below to see a list of our Office Bearers in pdf format …
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