By Mathilda Andersson
Entirely constructed and managed by volunteers, the Lawrence Golf & Sports Club Inc. (LGSC) located on the Clarence River in northern NSW is attesting the importance of community engagement in running a vibrant, small regional golf club.
Originally the first race track in the Clarence Valley, the Lawrence golf course is built on a sporting ground adjacent to two soccer fields and a tennis court, featuring a stunning nine-hole par 36 course which is solely run and maintained by local volunteers.
The club reached a milestone last month and became the newest affiliated club with Golf NSW and Golf Australia, and recently joined 19 other clubs within the district in joining the Northern Rivers District Golf Association and Women’s Golf Northern Rivers.
Like everything at the club, the clubhouse and amenities were built by local helpers and is a work in progress according to club Captain Dan Hillier.
“Although at times we struggle for sponsorship and the maintenance costs of the course, we will persevere in order to leave this place better for future generations,” Hillier said.
“With the support of the local community we will continue to promote the game by helping parents and children understand that golf offers personal growth around self discipline physical exercise, weight loss, brain stimulation and social interaction in a healthy environment.”
The course is open for play all weekdays for the club’s 40 playing members, and with Sunday mornings’ exception, you can just turn up and play by placing $12 in the honest box at the clubhouse. The course has also been officially rated by Golf NSW and will in effect start the transition to GolfLink for handicapping in the near future.
According to Hillier, the club will be focusing on junior golf in the coming years and will later this month be visited by Jay Simpson from First Swing, who will be attending the course in order to introduce the local primary school, 68 pupils, to golf.
“The club will no doubt provide a champion golfer and genuine top bloke/lady like Jarrod Lyle or Karrie Webb,” he added.
Shane Hillier, the captain’s son and the future of Lawrence golf.
The support from the community is a vital component in keeping the club alive. In recognition of his tireless efforts and contributions over 20 years, including donating over 400 trees and plants for the golf course, Lawrence volunteer Tony Chester was last week announced as a finalist in the Volunteer of the Year category in the NSW Golf Industry Awards.
Chester, along with three others, was nominated by a club representative for his exceptional level of involvement in golf and Stuart Fraser, CEO of Golf NSW, said the outstanding nominees represent the values of sport in ways that too often goes unnoticed.
“The work of our wonderful volunteers is often unheralded,” Mr Fraser said.
“They all deserve our acknowledgement for their selfless contribution to our great game.”
Despite approaching the age of 80, Tony is still spending up to three days a week on the course or whenever he is required.
“Local Tree specialist Tony Chester of Livistonia Palms has been a major factor in our course being what it is today,” Captain Hillier said abut the nomination.
“The community as a whole owes Tony a debt of gratitude that may never be repaid.”
On November 18 the club is hosting a “Foundation Day”, which is fast becoming the club’s flagship event and is designed to acknowledge the founding members and volunteers who made the club what it is today.
This year there’s some major prizes up for grabs including a new Holden Car from Ken Casson Motors Grafton, and a hole-in-one on the 4th hole will score you a deep sea fishing trip with Yamba Fishing Charters among other prizes.
The now former Lawrence Sport & Rec Club was incorporated in 1986 to work as an umbrella body for all sporting clubs using the reserve. The golf club was founded in 1990 and later amalgamated with the organisation, which in effect changed name to Lawrence Golf & Sports Club Incorporated.
The sporting club, in affiliation with Clarence Valley Council, is involved with the Lawrence Public Recreation Reserve Trust and holds a license for the Clubhouse area of the reserve and manages the remainder under delegation from the Council.
The club holds Sunday morning nine or 18-hole open competitions, Wednesday chook run, and the 9-hole par 3 comp on Friday afternoon.
Recently the club has also added Croquet to the schedule on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.