NSW Veteran Golfers - History of Veteran Golf

The History of Veteran Golf in NSW and Australia

Kindly provided by Richard Farrant OAM – Former President and Life Member NSWVGA

The following article briefly summarises the development of veteran golf in Australia with emphasis placed upon NSW as the leader in the origins of the concept of veteran golf as we now know it.

Women Led the Way

November 1949 saw a formation meeting held for what would become the VWGA of NSW with 22 ladies attending. The prime movers were prominent members of the LGU including Miss Leonora Wray, Mrs Ella Backhouse, Mrs Florence Stewart, Miss Kathleen Armstrong, Miss Una Clift and Miss Mabel Mackenzie. The view was to cater for women golfers, who had attained the age of 50, to compete in their own separate events. This was based on a similar scheme that was set up in England in the late 1940’s following WWII.

The first AGM of the NSW VWGA was held in November 1950 under the Presidency of Ella Backhouse, the minutes stating that there were 512 members including 46 from the country. Mrs Backhouse went on to lead the association up till 1966.

Proudly the NSW VWGA celebrates its 70th year in 2020 with some 15,000 current members.

The Men Followed

A meeting of four Sydney businessmen, all keen golfers, A.Hall, W. Foulsham, Jack Barkel and Harry Hattersley took place on July 7th 1965 resulting in the formation of the Australian Veteran Golfers Association (AVGA). Based predominantly in Sydney the purpose of the Association was twofold, firstly to arrange golf games in the Sydney area as well as tours around Australian golf courses for male golfers who had attained the age of 55, and secondly to become affiliated with the World Senior Golf Association.

Following on from these meagre beginnings the development of veteran golf in NSW and Australia grew rapidly. The Sydney VGA was formed as an associate body of the AVGA in the early 70’s to organise veteran golf competitions wholly within the greater Sydney area.
Then the need arose to look at a state association to administer veteran golf for the many interested players and districts in all parts of the state.

The first meetings to establish the New South Wales Veteran Golfers Association were held in 1975 and the first AGM of the NSWVGA was held in March 1976. As more and more districts became interested so followed the development of a very comprehensive state wide program which currently involves some 52 weeks of golf as well as six distinct championships.

Today the AVGA is still in existence providing tours interstate and overseas for veteran golfers and their partners. The Sydney VGA continues to cater for games in the Sydney Basin for their membership, which currently exceeds 1000, and the NSWVGA administers veteran golf over all of NSW for its membership, which is now in excess of 16 000.

The National Scene

Following on from visits by NSW veteran golfers to other parts of Australia by means of AVGA tours, and by word of mouth, all other states and territories began to pick up on the concept and formed their own interested groups and over time formalised matters by introducing state and territory associations. It became clear that some form of national administration would be in the interests of veteran golf throughout Australia.

In June 1981 a sub-committee of the AVGA comprising delegates from NSW, NSW Country, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland met at the Australian GC in Sydney. It was resolved there was a necessity to have a national body, with a constitution to be drafted for another meeting. The next meeting in October that year, attended by a delegate from Geelong VGA, saw the presentation of a draft constitution. It was also advised that Western Australia had been advised of the meeting but were not in attendance.

At a further meeting in June 1982 the title of Australian Veteran Golfers Union (AVGU) was adopted as was a constitution. The AVGU is incorporated in the ACT with an executive comprising of one delegate from each of the affiliated associations in all eight states and territories. The current number of affiliated players is 32,000 including some women from NSW and Queensland.

State and Territory associations came into being in the following years:

  • NSW – 1975
  • ACT – mid 1970s
  • SA – 1980
  • WA – 1982
  • TAS – 1983
  • QLD – 1983
  • VIC – 1983
  • NT – 1991

The basic objectives of the AVGU are the promotion of veteran golf and support of all state and territory associations as well as providing guidelines for the conduct, control and management of the annual AVGU Championships, which are conducted on a rotation basis between the eight member districts.

Richard Farrant OAM
June 2020