Coolamatong Country Sports Club now
known as the Coolamatong Snowy Mountains Country Club
The Club had its origins in the Golf Club which was formed at a public meeting in 1952.
When Don Suthern retired from the Police force to his home town of Berridale, he was disappointed that there was no local golf course. He helped to organise a public meeting, which was convened by Lorna Peel at the Berridale Hotel on the 28th September 1952.
A large number of people attended and a steering committee was formed to investigate suitable sites for the Berridale Golf Club. Don Suthern, Eric Thorpe and Jack Harvey formed the Steering Committee. One of the sites considered was behind O’Brien’s store where a race track then existed. At a subsequent meeting on the 15th November 1952 the construction of a golf course was given the go-ahead on land donated by Jock McFarlane of Coolamatong. With the enthusiastic support of members work began on this site, which fronted the main road.
The inaugural Berridale Golf Club committee members were President Don Suthern, Vice Presidents Bill Dahlberg, Roy Patrick, and Kevin Reid; Secretary, Eric Thorpe, Assistant Secretary Bill Healey and Treasurer, Ron Williams.
Shortly after his decision to donate the land, Jock McFarlane had the opportunity to buy the lake block. To help him, the club decided to buy the original area. This was done through the generosity and hard work of golf members and the club changed it’s name from Berridale Golf Club to Coolamatong.
The first nine holes were designed by Jack Harvey, a golf professional, from Goulburn, who was working in the area at the time. As the land was still used for grazing stock, post and wire fences were put up to protect the sand greens. The members carried out all the maintenance work, including rock picking tussock slashing.
The first competition was held on the 18th April 1953. It was well attended not only by the local club members, but also by Cooma golfers. As there was no clubhouse, afternoon tea was served after the days play at the Berridale CWA rooms, where the winners were announced. The winners of the first Coolamatong competition were Margaret Newbound of Bobundara and Ken Paull, the Rural Bank Manager from Cooma.
The following year the club had its own clubhouse. Through the efforts of Eric Thorpe, the Shire Clerk and Club Secretary, a surplus Department of Main Roads barracks was bought for 50 pounds and moved from Doran to the golf course. The hard working and committed club members transformed this basic building into a comfortable and friendly place.
About this time Bill and Eiley Wallace retired to Berridale from their property at Jindabyne. Bill took on the honorary role of Secretary Manager, a position he held from 1958 until 1967. The club was then in such a good financial position that it could employ Bill Hoskin, its first paid Secretary Manager. Bill Hoskin worked for the club until he retired in 1979.
The golf course extension to 18 holes was officially opened in April 1962, but it still had sand greens. The new improved course was tested by four experienced golfers, Ron Jamieson, Noel Bartell ( the state’s amateur champion), Flora Hoskin and Bill Wallace, passing with flying colours!
The next major change to the course was the construction of the grass greens. Work started in 1991, but was not finished until 1996 as there were many problems involving water, soil and grass seed.
The construction of a bowling green for Berridale had been mooted for the vacant block next to the Catholic Church, but when Coolamatong Golf Club was formed, it was envisaged as not only a golf club, but a bowls and tennis club as well. The tennis courts never eventuated, but the bowling green opened in 1963, an added a bonus for the club. The bowling green had a problem with drainage in 1968 and was not playable for 15 months.
The Berridale area is not noted for heavy or reliable rainfalls, either then or now. The members have struggled to maintain a course with a shortage of water, but are grateful to have their own golf course. A proposal by the Snowy River Shire Council to recycle waste water from the town, could help to compensate for the inadequate rainfall in the future.
Some members recall an unusual period in the 1970s when the course was so wet, players were permitted to tee up their balls in the water. They dared not complain about the bogs that were the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th fairways! The back nine holes were not quite as wet, but balls were regularly washed down the “creeks” that crossed the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th.
New members may not be aware that this is why the ditch on the right hand of the 5th fairway was constructed.
The Club patronage started to decline around 1990 with the various laws beyond our control, being introduced. At this time it was proposed we convert the golf greens to turf. After a two year study on the feasibility of this project, it got under way in 1991 with the members approval.
This project was completed, with mostly voluntary work, at the end of 1996. We now have a fully paid for 18 hole turf green golf course. The club’s ongoing support by the local community is reflected in the strength and continuity of its membership. There are still members of the original families playing and enjoying golf.
Berridale’s oldest resident, Lily Constance, was present at the inaugural meeting of the Club’s Associates (the women members) on the 16th May 1953. Lily was nominated as Publicity Officer. Lily was also present at the first bowling Women’s Meeting and continued to play bowls until forced to retire because of poor eyesight.
Coolamatong life members, recognised for their commitment to the club, life members are Lily Constance, Tony Lette, Charlie Roberson and Alan Reid. Previous life members have included Sandy Wallace and Greg and Flo Golby.
Tom Blyton was present at the club’s inaugural meeting. Tom who plays both golf and bowls, became the first green keeper for the golf course in 1970. After working for years in the weather that ranged from extremely hot and dry to winter blizzards, he retired in 1993.
Reflecting the influence of the Snowy Scheme and the migrants who made Berridale their home, the names of Aileen Skoglund and Ron Lovstad appear on the membership list as the club’s first bowls champions. Fifty years on from the initial meetings and hard work, the club has returned to volunteers for most of the upkeep of the clubhouse, golf course and the previous bowling green.
In August 1996 Coolamatong Country Sports Club opened its town centre Club Premises. Although bar staff are employed at the town centre club, volunteers still man the club house at the golf course. The club changed its name to Snowy Mountains Sports Club. Now called Coolamatong Snowy Mountains Country Club.
In 2013 the course had a lot of rain that resulted in flooding, a couple of the dams over flowed, the course was very wet for a few months. A proposal by the Snowy river shire council to recycle waste water from the town, could help to compensate for the inadequate rainfall in the future.
The grey water was put on the golf course in 2012. After a large dam was built to hold the grey water, and now we have water on the course, except there is not enough grey water to do the whole course at the moment.