The Club’s history dates from the period immediately after World War One. At that time, those wishing to play golf in the northern beaches area could do so only at Manly – there was no other course. In the 19th Century, the Long Reef headland was used for light farming. It was owned by the Salvation Army until 1912 when it became Crown Land administered by Warringah Shire Council. For some years it was a popular camping ground.
The golf club was started in 1921 as a 9 hole layout. Because the lower part of the headland was swamp the golf holes were confined to the upper ground. By today’s standards the course was a bit primitive. Grazing cattle constituted an early problem and wire fences were erected around the greens. The swamp was drained and filled in the late’20’s and the course was extended to a full 18 holes in 1931.
The course took a backward step during WW11. Damage was caused to the course when the Army used a greater part of it as an artillery range. Golf continued on non-firing days over an adapted nine holes. The greatest damage, was the repercussions that followed the flattening of the large beach side sane dunes in 1943. Sand invaded much of the southern part of the course, blocking water sources and fairways.
The course was repaired and redesigned following plans made by Eric Apperly in 1946, with further changes to course design made to ease the sand problem in 1965 when an extra piece of land was acquired to create what is now the first and second holes, designed by Al Howard. In the 90’s the establishment of boundary contours and planted vegetation helped stabalise the dunes.
During the first 70 years, there were many very wet periods during which the lower holes (where the swamp had been) became flooded. In 1990 action was taken to correct this. Several large ponds were constructed and course drainage was directed via these, with any overflow passing out to sea on the southern side of the course. The pond water has been used as a primary source of irrigation water. The ponds have also become a habitat for aquatic wildlife and as many as 8 pelicans have been seen there recently.
The first Clubhouse in 1923 was originally little more than a shed. There have of course been many subsequent improvements to the building and these have continued every few years to the present day. With the north-easterly ocean aspect, members and public have always enjoyed one of the most scenic clubhouse locations in the state.
A vital part of any club is its members. Long Reef is no exception and there have been many outstanding players over the years. In the early years Wally Smith was probably the best and just before and after World War II, Gordon Thomson was very hard to beat. His crown was worn in the 50s and 60s by Des Lofthouse who won more Club Championships than any other player (12). Since the early 70s things have been more evenly shared and no single player has been dominant.
There have also been some outstanding lady members with Ruby Watts, perhaps at the top of the list. Dulice Fouracre holds the record of 8 individual Championship wins.
Long Reef today remains a constant golf challenge for all players. The winds has always been the main obstacle to a good score and few can claim to have mastered it. The course itself has improved a lot over the years and it is now a testing layout with fairways and greens of which all members are proud.
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