In January 2013, the doors closed on the HMAS Creswell (Royal Australian Naval College) Golf Club after 54 years of chips and putts, but the enthusiasm and generosity of the membership will have a lasting legacy on the Shoalhaven with outstanding funds being donated to two local charities.
Former Vice President of the club, Chief Petty Officer Don Waples and Mr John Hewitt (the final Club Captain) presented cheques to the Sir David Martin Foundation and the South Coast Branch of Legacy Australia on 27 May.
The Sir David Martin Foundation supports Triple Care Farm at Robertson (inland of Kiama, NSW) which provides treatment and support to 100 young people in need each year - Lady Martin herself, travelled to Creswell to receive the substantial donation.
“The money kindly donated by the HMAS Creswell Golf Club will go towards rehabilitation, counselling, life skills and vocational and educational training to help the young people get back on their feet”, Lady Martin said.
The closure of the club was personal to Lady Martin, as she played her first rounds of golf at the club when her husband, Sir David Martin KCMG AO, was the Executive Officer at Creswell in 1967.
Mr Ray Pearson was also on hand to receive a cheque for Nowra Legacy.
“Legacy supports 503 widows, 10 junior legatees and eight special needs dependants in the Shoalhaven, relying totally on donations”, he said.
Chief Petty Officer Don Waples said that a steady decline in Defence membership was the catalyst for the demise of the club.
“The lack of current serving members was saddening, but increased security measures made things difficult and finances were also tight - unfortunately this chapter of Creswell’s history has now closed”, he said.
“We had a great bunch of people playing here and we are proud to be able to donate our outstanding funds to such worthy causes.”
The club originally dated back to the early 1920s but was initially recognised and affiliated with the Australian Golf Union in 1958. Since then it has been utilised by local Defence personnel as well as civilian members from the local community. The club also acted as a ‘home club’ for those Defence members at sea or working at other establishments around the country.
Shoalhaven residents and Life Members Mr Ray Southall, Mr John Thompson (ex-Army) and Mr Neville Hoskins (ex-Navy) made sure they were there for the last competition putt in January. Mr Thompson has been a stalwart of the club and is in his nineties.
The course at Creswell will still provide an essential firebreak for the base and now be utilised for leadership and teamwork exercises year-round.
HMAS Creswell provides initial training for officers at the Royal Australian Naval College and professional development for sailors and officers throughout their naval careers.