Fore-gan Smith, a history of golf at St Lucia campus

UQ has an interesting on-campus golfing history. We hope you enjoy this story using materials from the UQ Archives courtesy of Bruce Ibsen the University Archivist.

Aside from the distinguished educational reputation of The University of Queensland, we can also lay claim to several unique features and events over the years including: 

  • a crocodile in the lake in 2003
  • the annual Great Court race 
  • wonderful carvings in the cloisters and buildings of the Great Court
  • the renowned pitch-drop experiment.

With those highlights in mind, it should not come as a great surprise that at one time UQ also had a golf course situated on the front lawn of the Forgan Smith building!

The UQ Women's Golf Club requested a practice course

On 5 April 1955, Elizabeth Swan, President of the UQ Women’s Golf Club wrote to Cecil Page Hanify, the Registrar, about the possibility of creating a three-hole practice golf course in front of the Forgan Smith Building.

The then University Recreation Areas Committee investigated and determine that “…a reasonable short course can be arranged”.

Aerial photo of the Great Court and Brisbane River.
Aerial St Lucia 1957 S909 p1797
Click the image for a larger version.
Woman swinging golf club in front of Forgan Smith. A man watches with hands on hips. Green grass, blue cloudless sky.
Golfing near Forgan Smith building.
Copied from mid-1950s UQA S774 [212] promotional film.

The cost of this endeavour was accepted at £20/10 which included top dressing, fertilizer, wire netting, cups, pins (including flags) and directional indicators for distance.

Of course, such a course must have rules

In May 1956, with the course to be ready by July, a Recreational Areas Sub-Committee was convened to draw up course rules including:

  • the boundaries of the course which included Circular Drive, Front Drive and the fence along Mill Road
  • restrictions for play near ornamental trees
  • that the course be open at all times and access limited to members of the University.
Hand-drawn diagram. Bird's eye view, a rough triangle shape.
Golf course Forgan Smith UQA S130 box 439. Text reads "Suggested Golf Course, St Lucia. Scale: 200? to 1 inch"

A spot of golf at lunch?

Very little has been found describing the golfing experience, but we can speculate, when comparing the course layout with the aerial photo from 1957 and noticing the proximity of cars parked along Front Drive adjacent to the third hole, there must have been one or two cracked windscreens, windows or dented roofs as a result of errant golf balls. 

There was mention of the course in the Semper Floreat, issue 12, 1957, mainly referring to the Sports Union’s endeavours to get some sort of an insurance policy covering people who; “…walk across the three-hole golf course when lecturers are pelting balls around…in the lunch hour.”

Two years later

Just under two years later, in July 1958, the new Registrar, Cyril Connell, wrote to the President of the University of Queensland Men’s Golf Club saying that as the three-hole practice course was not being used very much and would he and the President of the Women’s Golf Club provide a report on a proposal to adapt the greens to a clock putting green.

Simple hand-drawn diagram of the clock putting green. A circle with a line down the centre.
Golf course Forgan Smith UQA S130 box 439

Playing Golf in this area is prohibited

By August 1962, Desley Swallows, Honorary Secretary of the UQ Women’s Sports Union advised the Women’s Golf Club that the area in front of Forgan Smith was no longer available for use as a three-hole course. 
At the end of the month in a memo to the Registrar, Frank Fentiman (The Building Officer) suggested that notices be placed in suitable positions stating; “Playing Golf in this area is prohibited”.

Other practice areas on campus

The Women’s Golf Club requested and received permission to use another practice strip of land located near Oval Four, and subsequently relocated to an area near the tennis courts. 

However, the practice strip eventually closed as the demand for more tennis courts space increased. Its demise effectively ended the on-campus golf course experience at the University of Queensland.

It was good while it lasted though!

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Last updated:
5 April 2022