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What is the Yulefest and why do we celebrate it in the Blue Mountains?

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A crackling open fire, the gentle scent of mulled wine and a delicious roast dinner are usually something you would experience in the winter months in northern European countries. For over 30 years, Wentworth Falls and the Blue Mountains has been a tourist destination for people who wish to escape the frantic crowds of the city and savour the warm atmosphere created by cosy fires, succulent food and amazing surroundings.

Every year, all throughout the months of June, July and August, the Blue Mountains celebrate the ‘Yulefest’ commonly referred to as Christmas in July. On the Saturday closest to the Winter Solstice, the Winter Magic Festival takes over the streets of Katoomba with a celebration that includes a street parade, music, market stalls and cultural events.

The winter months in the Blue Mountains are splendid, as the crisp, dry weather truly lends itself to a relaxing game of golf at the Wentworth Falls Country Club with friends followed by a mouth watering roast lunch or dinner.

But where did all this originate and what does Yulefest really mean?

What does Yule mean?

Yule is a Pagan festival also called the Winter Solstice celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, the Sun God and honouring the Horned God. On Yule we experience the longest night of the year. Although much of the winter’s harshest weather is still ahead of us, we celebrate the coming light, and thank the Gods for seeing us through the longest night. It is a time to look on the past year’s achievements and to celebrate with family and friends. From this day until Midsummer, the days grow longer, everyday banishing the darkness a little more in a glow of the warm sunlight that brings the world to life again. This day is the official first day of winter. The specific day varies from year to year depending on when the Sun reaches the southern most point in its yearly trek.

This type of festivity has been celebrated around the world for millennia under different names and with different traditions.

Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus – the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.

Winter festivals were common in ancient Greece and ancient Rome, as well as in the British Isles. Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honour of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honour an agricultural god.

When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.

The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.

The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.

Origins of the Blue Mountains Yulefest

The story behind the origins of the celebration of Christmas in July or Yulefest, is quite interesting as the concept and adoption of the idea by local operators came about by accident.

In 1980 a group of Irish tourists were visiting the Blue Mountains in an attempt to find the clear crisp winter climate they were used to back in Ireland. While relaxing in the Mountain Heritage in front of a roaring fire they noticed snowflakes falling from the sky and the wind blowing the flakes around.  They immediately thought of Christmas in the northern hemisphere.  “Celebrating Christmas in Australia during the heat of summer just doesn’t feel quite the same”, one of the group explained to Garry Crockett, their host and the owner of Mountain Heritage. Garry, being of Irish descent himself, recalled the stories his father Bill would recount depicting frosted windows, Christmas feasts of turkey, hams, mince pies and steaming plum puddings, and choiristers joining together singing the joys of the festive season.

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Garry, in order to please his Irish guests, decided to provide them with what they had requested. Hence the preparations got under way with the hanging of decorations throughout the hotel, even a Christmas tree found and trimmed. Over the weeks of planning, many curious guests enquired as to all the activity… they thought it was some kind of Irish joke – you just don’t have Christmas in the middle of the year!

Garry explained the significance of the occasion that a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings, was soon to happen for a group of homesick Irish people. Word began to spread far and wide of this most unusual “out-of-season” festive event at Mountain Heritage and enquiries from other interested parties, who also wanted to enjoy such a wonderful original occasion, began flowing in.

This idea was so popular that other operators in the Blue Mountains followed suit and started offering ‘Christmas in July’ products and services. Within a few years, the celebration of Yulefest had well and truly been embraced and adopted.

Come celebrate Christmas in July in the Blue Mountains!

Now that you know what Yulefest means and how it originated in the Blue Mountains you have no excuse not to come to Wentworth Falls and enjoy all that this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.

Round up your friends and family, pack your golf clubs and join in the Yulefest celebrations!

Yulefest_Blue_Mountains

Please let us know your thoughts by commenting below and don’t forget to follow us on social media.

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WFCC Success Story: Edwina Kennedy

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How old were you when you first started practicing a sport? Do you feel that age has a strong impact on how well you may perform throughout the years? There have been a number of studies conducted recently that demonstrate a correlation between beginning a sport at an early age and achieving outstanding results.

Only a handful of golfers at the Wentworth Falls Country Club have become members under the age of 10 and have obtained international recognition. One of the most remarkable is Edwina Kennedy. Edwina’s golfing career starts at the age of 7 and progresses rapidly reaching sensational results in Amateur golf  that have yet to be beaten to this day.

Practicing a sport at a young age

Often young children start a sport because of their geographic location, because it is practiced in school or because their parents follow or practice that sport. More often than not, sports are practiced recreationally up until an adolescent age and then other factors take over and the young individual might lose interest.

The first element to take into account when assessing sports for a child is talent. But how do you determine whether someone has a talent for a sport, especially when very young? This can be challenging to say the least but it often evolves from a strong passion for a sport.  Many studies suggest that parents should expose their children to various sports and allow them to choose rather than imposing one sport. If you grew up in Australia you most likely played rugby, cricket or soccer when growing up but what if you have a talent for horseback riding and have never been on a horse? Exposing the child to a number of different sports to be able to gauge whether there is a specific talent is therefore crucial.

Some schools of thought maintain that perseverance is the most important element of all and that as long as you stick to a sport for long enough you will succeed. This can be applied to everything in llfe, not only sports, as if someone is dedicated and enthusiastic about something they will eventually achieve recognition. Professional athletes in fact train for hours on end to improve and hone their skills to the nth degree. Not only their skill but also their physical condition must be pristine in order for them to run faster, jump higher or hit the ball farther than their opponent. Being focused and wanting to succeed as an athlete helps in sticking to a sport but not everyone has this strong mental preparation.

Another key element for success in sport is the environment you grow up in. If you grow up in the Snowy Mountains you are more likely to go skiing rather than playing baseball as a child. Similarly if you are surrounded by golf courses you are more likely to give the game of golf a go.

Edwina Kennedy is an individual who had all three of these key elements.

Early stages

Edwina’s first golf club was a cut down hickory shafted “jigger” given to her by her grandmother. During the Wentworth Falls Country Club Centenary celebrations, Edwina Kennedy was elected guest of Honour and during her speech she mentioned how the wooden golf club her grandmother gave her for her 2nd birthday triggered an interest in the game of golf. Furthermore, Edwina had a strong relationship with her grandmother who lived in Wentworth Falls and whom she visited often.

Edwina truly enjoyed visiting her grandmother and playing golf in Wentworth Falls although there weren’t many young female golfers when she decided to do so. She commenced her competitive involvement in golf at age 7 when she first joined WFCC. She used a variety of second hand clubs, and received one new golf club each birthday and Christmas. She gradually built up her set, not owning a fully matched set of clubs until she was 11 and nearly a single figure marker! One of the peculiar incidents she vividly recalls from her early stages of golf at WFCC was being reprimanded by a woman member while playing golf as there weren’t many young golfers and golf was not a game typically played by young women. But she adds that both men and women members were very friendly, extremely supportive of her golf and encouraged her greatly.

She carded under  100 at age 8. She competed in a number of Junior and Schoolgirl Championships from the age of 7 and reached a handicap of 18 at the age of 10. At 16 she won the Australian Foursomes Championships with Sue Goldsmith. She proceeded to win the Australian Junior championships 4 years in a row, 1976 to 1979.

Edwina believes that she benefitted in many ways from playing a number of sports, especially team sports, before she began to focus solely on golf after leaving school and commencing university studies. She strongly recommends this to aspiring athletes who want to maintain a balanced perspective and a rounded approach to life.

Career accolades

In 1978, on her 19th birthday, Edwina Kennedy became the first Australian in win the British Women’s Amateur Championship. Her most memorable achievement was being a member of the first Australian team, with Lindy Goggin and Jane Lock, to win the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships in Fiji in 1978.

In 1979 she became the first woman to compete in the Australian universities team championship winning each of her matches from the men’s tees. Today, the Edwina Kennedy Trophy for women’s individual stroke play is awarded regularly at the Australian University Championship for golf.

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In 1980 she won the Canadian Amateur Championship and in 1985 the New Zealand Amateur Championship. She won the Australian Amateur Championship in 1986 and was losing finalist in 1979, 1984 and 1991. She represented Australia more than 30 times in 20 countries between 1977 and 1991. She was a member of the Australian team that won the 1983 Commonwealth Tournament, the Queen Sirikit Cup Asian Teams Championship in 1982, 1983, 1986.

Edwina also won the New South Wales Championships in 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1986 and represented NSW from 1977 to 1993, winning 10 times.

Edwina received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to golf in 1985. She retired from competitive golf in 1993. She married Vaughan Kirkby in 1988 and they have two children, Jack, 19 and Anna, 17.

Credo

“Work hard to achieve your dreams but remember that life is much more than winning”.

Edwina Kennedy is the perfect example of an individual who recognised their talent for a sport at an early age and with hard work and perseverance managed to achieve outstanding results. She remains to this day one of the most inspiring and successful athletes the Wentworth Falls Country Club has had the pleasure to witness.

We encourage young readers and adults with young children to share their experiences and points of view on starting a sport at a young age. The Wentworth Falls Country Club supports young players and looks forward to welcoming the new golfing generation of the future.


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Who was W. C. Wentworth and why was the Blue Mountains crossing so important?

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Wentworth Falls and the Blue Mountains are not only a breathtakingly stunning part of the world but have also played a fundamental role in history in paving the way to the economic progress of Australia.

From a tiny town west of Liverpool called South Creek, 200 years ago three explorers set out to change the history and nature of the state of New South Wales. In 1813 Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth surmounted countless obstacles in crossing the Blue Mountains and managed to travel 160km in merely 21 days.

The year 2013 marks the bicentennial celebration of this crossing and a re-enactment will take place with a descendant of William Charles Wentworth.

The town of Wentworth Falls and the actual falls themselves were named after the explorer as a homage to his bold achievement and a tribute to his contributions to Australia.

With this blog we would like to review the importance of the crossing of the Blue Mountains and also focus our attention on who William Charles Wentworth was.

What is the significance of the Blue Mountains crossing?

At the beginning of the 19th century, the state of New South Wales as a colony of the British Empire was mainly inhabited on the coastlines. The economy of the state of NSW was nowhere as prominent and strong as it would become in the mid 19th century.

Furthermore, the areas surrounding the coastal settlements were principally bush and therefore hardly accessible or worthy of interest to the settlers due to their lack of colonial activity.

By the time Gregory Blaxland, Lt. William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set out, a considerable amount of information had been gathered.  Not only did they know of numerous routes which didn’t work, but they had George Caley’s observations of the main ridge, made from Mt Banks.  They also knew that the most successful efforts were those which followed ridges.

They set out, on May 11 1813, to mount the “main” ridge from Emu Plains, and followed a route similar to that of the Great Western Highway and railway to Mt Victoria. They then followed a finger ridge to Mt York, arriving late on May 28.

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Although many others had tried to cross the Blue Mountains before them, they were the only ones who were successful and the only ones who were recognised as having crossed the mountains given their British colonial identity.

The most significant outcome of their exploration was the subsequent construction of a road connecting Sydney to the newly formed town of Bathurst. The reason this was so crucial is that for the first time in the history of Australia, pastoral activity was developed and exploited in inland New South Wales. This gave way to a the so called pastoral age that dominated the Australian export market for decades, roughly up to the 1960s.

The 160km road that was discovered by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth was therefore not only an opening towards the interconnectivity of NSW and a successful export industry but it also marked the beginning of the country’s exploration inland and economic expansion.

Who was William Charles Wentworth?

William Charles Wentworth, 1790 – 1872, is regarded as one of the most influential individuals of the 19th century in Australia. As a poet, explorer, journalist and politician, Wentworth spearheaded various initiatives that have shaped Australia into the great nation that it is today. Moreover, he was one of the colony’s first native born politicians who strongly believed in the rights of emancipated convicts, contributed to the establishment of trial by jury and vehemently advocated for the Australian colonies to be self-governed.

The exact date of his birth remains a matter of debate although most historians would agree that Wentworth was born on the 13th of August 1790 on board a ship docked in Norfolk island and heading toward Australia. His father, D’Arcy Wentworth belonged to an English aristocratic family that fell on hard times, and when he was acquitted of three charges of Highway Robbery he only narrowly escaped conviction of a fourth by declaring that he was moving to Botany Bay to serve as assistant surgeon to the colony. His mother, Catherine Crowley, was a 17 year old Irish girl who was being sent to Sydney following a conviction for allegedly stealing clothing.

In 1796 Wentworth moved to Paramatta where his father D’Arcy became a prosperous landowner. Soon after in 1802 William Charles was sent to England to be educated. He spent 8 years attending various schools in Buckinghamshire and Greenwich. In 1810 he returned to Sydney where he became heavily involved in the colonial life under the direction of his father. Subsequently, he was appointed acting Provost-Marshall (chief of police) by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and given a land grant of 1,750 acres on the Nepean River. This was the particular point in his life when he decided to explore the Blue Mountains and lead an expedition tracing a path from the West of Sydney to inland New South Wales. For his accomplishment he was awarded 1000 acres of land.

He soon after returned to England in 1816 to study Law, travel around Europe and complete his studies at Cambridge University. In 1819 he published his first book A Statistical, Historical, and Political Description of the Colony of New South Wales and Its Dependent Settlements in Van Diemen’s Land, With a Particular Enumeration of the Advantages Which These Colonies Offer for Emigration and Their Superiority in Many Respects Over Those Possessed by the United States of America.   In his book he argued for political reform and liberalisation and managed to be quite influential in encouraging emigration to the colony.

After returning to New South Wales in 1824, Wentworth became an increasingly important figure in colonial politics. He initially identified himself with the cause of emancipists and native-born Australians, and established the first non-government newspaper, The Australian, to agitate for their rights. Entering the New South Wales parliament in 1843, Wentworth was a leading figure in the political reforms that led to the colony of New South Wales attaining responsible government in 1853. Wentworth subsequently retired to England, where he died in 1872.

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W.C. Wentworth was a towering figure measuring six feet in height and commanding a strong build. Some historians describe him as determined and driven to the extent that when he set himself a task it was only a matter of time before it was accomplished. His disposition was warm and generous and he was ready to forget quickly his resentments. He had a good knowledge of constitutional law, quick comprehension, and great logical powers united with great force and accuracy of expression. Behind all this was an immense sincerity, the real secret of his power. He passionately felt that trial by jury, a free press, and the right of the colonies to govern themselves were things worth living for and fighting for, and while he fought for these things the sword never dropped from his hand. He was the greatest man of his time and possibly the greatest man in the history of Australia.

William Charles Wentworth and the crossing of the Blue Mountains have had a strong impact in shaping the state of New South Wales and Australia throughout history. The bicentennial celebrations taking place in May 2013 are numerous and quite remarkable. We invite you all to participate in these events, to explore the Blue Mountains and to come and visit us at the Wentworth Falls Country Club for a round of golf and a delicious meal!


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How do you steer clear of golf injuries?

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Golf injury prevention

If you are reading this blog, you most probably have a strong passion for golf. Your love for the game means you probably play once a week or even more often. Have you ever experienced any aches or pains during or after a round of golf?

Whether you are an experienced golfer or whether you had your first golf lessons last week, you may be experiencing lower back pains, wrist aches and soar elbows. How do you treat these pains and most importantly, how do you prevent these aches and pains from occurring in the first place?

As a low impact sport, golf is not usually associated with a high rate of injury such as rugby, water polo or judo. However, many people who play golf around the world, from beginners to professionals, experience pains in various parts of their body from excessive strain and over exertion. In addition, many golfers fail to consult a doctor or seek medical advice, which may aggravate their condition and ultimately lead to a more significant injury.

You would be surprised how few golfers actually spend time undertaking simple and quick exercises to reduce their chances of injury.

By simply understanding the main causes of injury and pain and following some basic practices to avoid these from happening, golfers can enjoy the game to a greater extent and for a longer period of time.

1. Common golf injuries and treatment

Many studies have been conducted to identify the main areas of injury linked to the game of golf. One of the most reliable studies conducted on this subject matter was completed in 2004 by the Harvard Medical School.  Let’s have a look at the main areas, the symptoms and what to do to cure and prevent them from creeping back.

Lower back – 36% of golfers experience lower back pains as a result of playing golf. The motion of the golf swing alone can be the cause of a series of injuries to the lower back. Executing the motion of the golf swing over 60 times in a round of 18 holes but also bending over to pick up golf balls or fix divots may place a great deal of strain on the lumbar spine. The main symptoms of this condition are fairly obvious with shooting back pains, stiffness, muscle spasms and pain or weakness in the legs.

The first piece of advice from both the Australian Journal of Sports Medicine and the above study is to make sure your swing technique is correct. By taking a few golf lessons to correct the simple bad habits we all have could go a long way to improve your lower back problems. Other suggestions are to bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight when you follow through on your swing. Lastly, use a cart or a buggy to carry golf clubs so as to reduce the strain on your back when transitioning from hole to hole.

Elbow – Around 32% of golfers may be afflicted by elbow injuries or pain during and after having played golf. This is mainly due to gripping the club incorrectly coupled with repetitive and sudden force applied to the elbow when taking long shots such as drivers. Pain in the elbow may be a sign of muscle damage or an inflammation of tendons. The most common symptoms are pain when making a fist, weakness in the wrist and/or hand and tenderness and pain in the inner side of the forearm.

The immediate treatment for elbow pain suggested by the Australian Journal of Sports Medicine is to apply ice to the area 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time and give your golf game a rest. Should the pain be quite intense, over the counter pain relievers are recommended and a visit to the doctor could be in order. In the long run, your swing would have to be reviewed so as to determine whether your technique could be the main cause of such discomfort.

Hand and wrist – Injuries and pain in the hands and wrists are fairly common and they are more often than not connected with the repetitive impact of the head of the club with the ball, or in some cases the ground. When golfers hit the ball, the impact travels through the club and is absorbed by the hands and wrists. As the strokes mount up, they can lead to strained tendons. Over time, repetitive strain and improper wrist motion can cause fractures, sprains, and ruptured tendons that eventually cause chronic pain and decreased mobility.

Although the symptoms are fairly obvious, the immediate and long-term solutions can be varied and quite interesting. There are vibration-absorbing golf clubs that reduce the impact on the hand, which might be a life-saver for some. Secondly, by squeezing a tennis ball regularly, the hand, wrist, forearm and shoulder muscles are strengthened. Lastly, the technique. By using light grip pressure, slowing the backswing, cutting excess wrist motion and avoiding a steep downswing (potentially striking the ground) the chances of reducing hand and wrist injuries are increased.

Shoulder – The rotator cuff in the shoulder is also a quite common area that is prone to injury.  The main cause once again relates back to the golf swing and the wear and tear to the muscles and tendons. When the tears heal they create scar tissue that may hinder the desired movement and also increase the sensitivity of the whole shoulder. The main symptoms are pain in the shoulder or upper arm pain when the arm is lifted up and away from the body and pain in the front of the shoulder extending down to the elbow and forearm.

The immediate remedy to a sore shoulder is rest, icing and pain medication. Many exercises can be done however to improve the shoulder ailments over time. Physical therapy including stretching and strengthening exercises are the most common treatments for shoulder pain.

Knees and hips – Both knees and hips may come under unpleasant pressure and strain while golfing. Furthermore they may have the tendency to deteriorate should the golfer have injured these previously. Striking the ground hard during a swing can result in excruciating hip and knee pains. The main symptoms are generalized pain in the knees and hips, clicking in the knee, and swelling of the knees.

For immediate relief, the most recommended treatments are rest, icing, elevation and pain medication. However, wearing knee bandages and braces and golf shoes with short cleats can remarkably reduce the chance of injuring the knees and hips once again. Long cleats anchor your feet while you swing and could strain your knees.

As you will appreciate, while playing golf there are many areas of the body that may be strained or over exerted with repetitive and forceful swings. Having said that, there are also a number of simple exercises and techniques that can be followed to greatly reduce the chance of injury and prevent pain from getting in the way of a healthy round of golf.

Golf swing

2. Tips to reduce the chance of injury

Four things will grossly improve any golfer’s physical health and strength in the long run and in turn improve their game, namely stretching, warming up before playing, regular fitness training programs and correcting one’s swing.

Warming up and stretching before golfing has been shown to decrease the incidence of golf injuries. Apparently over 80 percent of golfers spend less than 10 minutes warming up before a round. Those who do warm up have less than half the chance of injury with respect to those who don’t warm up. Lower handicap and professional golfers were more than twice as likely to warm up for more than 10 minutes as compared to other golfers.

Flexibility, strength, and aerobic training have become increasingly popular among golfers over the past several decades. Early advocates of strength training included Gary Player, the international champion who claimed to have significantly increased the length of his drives despite his small physical stature. More recently, players like Tiger Woods have embraced strength and flexibility training and have undertaken regular fitness training programs, whereas more senior players have been exercising to improve their level of play or merely to remain competitive with younger players.

A regular exercise program that includes core strengthening, stretching and strengthening all the major muscle groups can also help decrease your injury rate and increase your playing time.

Swing mechanics also plays a very important role in decreasing the chances of injury and the improvement of one’s game. It is advisable to consult a golf pro to review one’s technique and correct any idiosyncrasies or bad habits.

Golf is a great game that is enjoyed by many around the world. Why not have a few lessons with a golf pro (possibly Lang Doolan at Wentworth Falls County Club), do a little stretching and warm up before playing if you know how important it is to keep you well clear of common golf injuries?

Also, should you desire further information about fitness training programs, Pete at the WFCC gym will be able to assist you.

Do you dedicate time and effort to injury prevention? Let us know your views by commenting below.


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Golf History – 1910s and 1920s

View from the Club house circa 1917

Have you ever wondered what golf was like 100 years ago? What sort of equipment and clothing were customary on the fairways in Australia in the 1910s and 20s?

Try taking a wooden stick and whacking a wound rubber-centred dimpled ball covered with a case of gutta percha. Not so easy to put the ball on the green with that equipment is it?  Golf as a sport has come a long way since the turn of the twentieth century, mainly thanks to technological innovation and mass production. To think that the first golf balls used were made out of leather stuffed with feathers!

Wentworth Falls Country Club was founded in 1913 after the land, 45 acres initially, was purchased for around 2000 pounds or the equivalent of approximately AUD 250,000 today. These were the original 9 holes and what currently includes holes 2 to 9. Back in the 1910s there were only a few dozen golf clubs in NSW and Wentworth Falls soon became one of the finest club houses in the State. Sydneysiders would enjoy a weekend in the Blue Mountains to take advantage of the pristine air quality and indulge in a weekend of golfing and social activities. Should you be interested in further information, Dorothea Moore is currently writing a book on the evolution of the WFCC Club throughout the years and it will be available for purchase in April 2013.

The fascinating evolution of the game of golf holds many surprises and turning points. However, it would be interesting to briefly review the 1910s and 1920s and focus on three general areas: the equipment, the attire and the ‘customs and regulations’ of the game.

1) Equipment

The common golf club of the 1910s was the hickory golf club. These clubs were originally made out of hickory wood which is extremely hard, heavy, strong, and elastic. It was a preferred wood for golf clubs as it would offer strength and resilience. Recently manufacturers have started using materials such as carbon fiber, titanium or scandium. Even though most ‘woods’ are made from different metals, they are still called ‘woods’ to denote the general shape and their intended use on the golf course. Most woods made today have a graphite shaft and a titanium, composite, or steel head.

Between 1900 and 1930 many innovations were implemented in the design of golf clubs. Some of the most remarkable attempts to change the design of the clubs were Walter Hagen’s concave face sand iron or the adjustable club allowing you to change the loft on it. However, one of the most bizarre ones was the 15cm face ‘giant niblick’ that was  developed in the 1920s.

Probably one of the most important changes in club design that followed the introduction of the modern day golf ball around the turn of the twentieth century was the introduction of grooves on club faces. The designers came to the realization that the grooves (as opposed to a smooth surface) on clubs would allow not only a greater backspin effect on the ball but also greater distance.

Another fun fact was the replacement of the names of clubs with numbers. This came about in the United States in the 1920s changing names such as cleek, mid-iron, mashie, jigger and niblick into the number coding we use today. Together with the introduction of numbers, the loft and shaft length was standardised in an attempt to offer a more level playing field for competitions.

2) Attire

By the time the 1920s came around, the game of golf had been played for centuries. Golf fashion however came into vogue in that period as players not only wanted to perform well but also wanted to appear dashing and stylish.

The fashionable golfer of the 1920s wore plus fours with argyle knee socks and a pullover sweater. (Argyle is a traditional knitted pattern with large interlocking diamonds in various colors that gave a flashy look to the sportsman.)

But what were plus fours? Plus fours were a variation on the traditional knee pants called knickers, which had been worn by men, boys, and, occasionally, women, since the late 1800s. The reason they were called plus fours was because they were made four inches longer than ordinary knickers. While they still fastened with a tight band at the knee, the extra fabric of the plus four bloused over the band, giving a relaxed, baggy look. Plus fours were an extravagant, careless style that fit right in with the looser fashions and lifestyles of the 1920s. They also offered more freedom of movement than previous knickers, which made them extremely popular with sportsmen, especially golfers.

But what about the women?  The early ’20s saw women playing golf in two-piece dresses. These were usually plain or pleated skirts topped with a sweater or vest, over patterned stockings and rubber-soled shoes. Halfway through the decade, New York’s Best & Company introduced the “shirtmaker,” a one-piece dress more appropriate for sports. Women golfers continued to wear the shirtmaker while playing golf for another 30 years.

3) Customs, rules and regulations

The history of the rules and regulations of golf and golfing equipment is quite intricate and complex. The interesting aspect of it however is how the golfing authorities analysed innovations and modifications. The US Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews would gauge whether the improvements would provide an unfair advantage and if so they would either control them or veto them. An example of this is the width and depth of the club face grooves. Many modifications mentioned above, including the adjustable loft club, were ruled out in an attempt to create a level playing field for all.

In terms of customs, it is fascinating to highlight a few facts about Sydney golfing back in the 1910s and 1920s. Firstly, golf in Sydney did not have the egalitarian association that was typical in Scotland. The British perception of the game was adopted in Australia whereby golf was considered an elitist sport often synonymous with good birth, respectability and honour.

Also, the number of golf courses in NSW was limited and clubs therefore had caps on memberships making them more exclusive than they are today. Golf clubs also defined certain social hierarchies in accepting or refusing entrance to their premises, especially in smaller suburbs surrounding the city. Sporting excellence and talent did not however mean that you were accepted socially. Racial, ethnic and class exclusions were overt and condoned.  This naturally drove away many people who might have developed a strong interest in golfing at the time.

Lastly, Wentworth Falls was considered quite a long way away from the city of Sydney and long weekends were often in order when needing to get away from the hustle and bustle of the urban environment. Many people visited the Blue Mountains for health reasons as the air was cleaner (and still is!) and the setting lent itself to a relaxing experience. Also, the Club allowed for overnight stay that translated into social soirees and events attracting many gentry of Sydney as well as of the local and surrounding areas.

All in all, the game of golf has come a long way since 1913. Whether the game is more or less enjoyable with the new technological advances and regulations is up for debate although the Wentworth Falls Country Club still remains one of the most beautiful golf clubs in New South Wales.

We encourage everyone to join us on the WFCC Centenary festivities that will take place in April for a week starting on the 5th. Please contact management on info@wfcc.com.au or check our website on www.wfcc.com.au/whats-on/100-years for further details.


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5 benefits of playing golf

Are you considering taking up the game of golf? Are you an intermediate golfer? Are you a professional golf player? Read on.

Golf can be a great investment in your health, potentially increasing your life expectancy by 5 years according to a 2008 Swedish medical university research. Not only, but if you are a really good golfer, you increase your chances of living longer even more! Just another reason to make sure you keep on practicing as Dale Burnett, the club professional at WFCC, would say!

Most professional golfers these days are fine athletes because of the physical and mental demands that are required at the highest levels in the sport. For the amateur or intermediate player, these benefits are not dissimilar.  An 18 round game of golf is equivalent to walking for approximately 8 kilometers and if you carry your clubs you will burn almost 1500 calories. Not bad considering you are outdoors enjoying the weather and chatting with friends!

Just to give you an example – the golf swing itself requires a turning of the torso that is great for the back and the abs and will keep you slender and in shape. But golf isn’t just good for your physical fitness – it’s also a great game for the mind. It keeps you sharp, provides you with much-needed human contact and much more.

The 5 main reasons golf is good for you are:

1 Golf is good exercise

It might seem like golfers casually stroll around the golf course, stop, hit a ball and keep on going. In actual fact, while playing golf you would usually exceed 10,000 steps which is the guideline for exercise recommended by medical experts to maintain good health.

Your core muscles, your abdomen and your back are all exercised together with your arms and legs during a typical golf drive.  During the golf swing the body fully turns back and forth with each full movement. After 18 holes, you might have repeated this exercise at least 60 times (unless you’re Tiger Woods) and if you add practicing at the driving range, this number may be much higher.

Also, you will be burning quite a lot of calories, especially if you carry your own clubs and the course is hilly! A round of golf is equivalent to a one-hour workout in the gym but without the monotony and repetitiveness of the treadmill or the rowing machine.

2 Golf stimulates your brain

Have you ever missed that 1 meter putt at the end of your round and blamed it on concentration? Golf is a strategic game that requires a great deal of mental sharpness and coordination in order to end up on top.

By calculating that odd shot, considering all the variables that may affect the ball in the air or on the ground or even adding up your score, you are keeping your brain sharp. No matter how old (or young) you are, golf will always challenge your mind teaching you to stay calm and collected so as to make that birdie look smooth and simple.

In addition, an abundant supply of fresh air will help you to keep cool under pressure when deciding the best strategy for your next shot.

3 Golf helps you reduce your stress levels

You’ve had a tough week at work and that project you’ve been working on for months needs to be presented on Monday morning.  You call your golf partner, tee off early on Saturday morning and let those endorphins start kicking in! That’s what golf is all about.

Just taking that stroll out into the open green field, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying a bit of sun can really stimulate your body to produce endorphins, the feel good hormones that will boost your mood naturally in a way no anti-depressant ever could.

Being away from the usual stresses of modern life such as mobile phones can really help you relax and reduce your stress levels.

4 Golf is a social and family sport

Golfing is a great way to spend time with friends, family or colleagues in a relaxed environment away from the office or home. This however does not mean that business deals are not conducted while playing a round of golf, quite the contrary. In numerous countries around the world golf is commonly practiced with the intent of improving business relations or even sealing an important business deal. Few other sports allow you to spend various hours outdoors strolling in a beautiful and peaceful environment and engaging in conversation.

When golfing with friends and family alike, you have the chance to bond over a low impact, high interaction sport. Unlike tennis where you are too far to have a chat while playing and too exhausted to have a chat between games, golf is ideal when it comes to improving interpersonal relations.

5 Golf improves your bone health

Spending a few hours outdoors on a beautiful sunny day is a great way for your body to produce vitamin D.  As an essential vitamin for bone health, for regulating the growth in skin cells and regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, Vitamin D should not be underestimated. Many Australians choose to take tablets or supplements to top up their vitamin D levels although there is nothing better than a wonderful game of golf with your friends on a sunny day.

Just don’t forget to take the necessary precautions with regards to sunlight! Always apply 30+ sunscreen at least 25 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun, wear a hat and bring an umbrella if needed in case there is no shade on the fairway.

So don’t procrastinate, get on the golf course and by this time next month you will be fitter, healthier and happier!