When the Levels Campus of the South Australian Institute of Technology was first planned the whole area was to be filled with buildings, roads and sports fields. However, with cuts in education spending, new buildings at the Levels were no longer planned, with considerable space left unused.
The Curator, Les Edwards considered a golf course would be a good use for the land, and at first five par 3 and one par 4 holes were constructed. Two of the par 3 holes were un-playable during the winter months, with deep water lying around, members of the ground-staff were unable to cut the long grass.
To make a course of nine holes we played some greens twice, hitting off from different places. The par 4 hole and three of the par 3 holes were positioned around the soccer pitch, which was located on the southern side of the area, therefore Saturday competitions were not a regular feature as soccer was still being played on the pitch. Sunday competitions were the norm.
Staff members formed a small club in 1979, and in 1980 a further hole was laid out, followed by 2 more in 1984. These nine holes were rearranged to form a layout of one par 5, six par 4 and 2 par 3 holes. The total length of the course for men is 5,166 for men (18 holes) and 4,776 metres for ladies. Par for the course is 70 and the ACR for men is 65, and the scratch score for ladies is 67. Colin Sharpe was instrumental in the layout of the course at this time.
The course was not open to the public and is only available for the use of members.
From the club's inception, lady members have had the same status as men. However, since the formation of the additional holes, the lady members use their own tees and, since joining the S.A.L.G.U. (1987), use the A.L.G.U. system of handicapping. The ratio of ladies to men members has always been around the 10% figure. This includes the early days when two brave souls (one playing in competitions) joined the 18 men. The same approximation prevails today (1988) about 25 to 250. There are only seven or eight ladies taking part in competitions.
As the course was not being used to its full capacity, a few members of the public were allowed to join the S.A.I.T. Union and the Golf Club. Membership of the Golf Club could only be obtained by joining the Student Union of S.A.I.T. As the club grew and funds became available much progress was made in the development of the course. The buckets members carried during play at this time were not so much for filling in divots with sand, but for picking up stones and rocks from the fairways.
During 1987 a watering system was installed on all fairways and hundreds of trees were planted. In March 1988 the course was closed temporarily for the seeding of fairways. When we returned to playing, we had to tee up on the fairways for several months to protect them. The planting of trees has been an ongoing project.
The first clubhouse was a very small room attached to the southern end of the Sports Centre. There was enough room for a desk, refrigerator, small table and a few chairs. If more than 6 players entered the room it was full to capacity, so most of the members purchases a drink and sat outside. For the midweek competition, we used the cricket/football clubrooms so on competition days; we played the first hole at either end of the golf course.
'The Palms' Golf Club Inc. has been instrumental in the development of the golf course, and has spent a considerable sum of money over the years in course improvements including the construction of new greens, tees and fairways, beautification of the area, improvements to the car park area, and assisting in the purchase of machinery required for maintaining the area. The club also supplied the funds to convert part of the hockey change rooms into the present golf club-house (Bruce Bovard Clubhouse) which was opened in 1989.
In 1990 a pergola was constructed and outside benches and tables were made by volunteer labour and put in place. A practice green was constructed next to the clubhouse, and beautification work has continued around that area.
Membership grew to about 350, with the same 10% being ladies. However, by this time we had an average of 12 to 15 lady players in the competitions.
In 1992/1993 the 9th/18th hole was lengthened considerably to become a par 5 hole for ladies, but it was not quite long enough for a par 5 for men. 1993 saw more changes with the construction of the new 1st/10th hole (par 3) which replaced the short par 3 hole which was parallel to the entrance road. The then 7th/16th was lengthened by replacing the tee block back to the boundary fence.
When the Institute of Technology became the University of South Australia, the Golf Club continued to function, and in 1995, the costs incurred in the upkeep of the course were out-sourced by the University to the Golf Club, which pays an amount negotiated annually.
Members no longer have to join the Student Union and therefore pay their membership fees directly to the Golf Club. The course is still not open to the public, but members can bring guests to play (for a fee).
Since taking full responsibility for the maintenance, there has only been one new green constructed, but the course has continued to improve in leaps and bounds.
From very small beginnings, membership has increased over the years with a current club membership of 400 plus (1999). The members agreed to a name change and in January 1999 the name was officially changed to "The Palms Mawson Lakes Golf Club Inc." This club has been and will continue to be a great asset to the community.
In the year 2000 a wall was taken out to increase the size of the clubhouse and this made a considerable improvement to the facilities.
We had been aware that with the advent of the Mawson Lakes development, there would be waterways installed throughout the course at some stage, although we had meetings with the University and Delfin Lend Lease representatives over a period of some years we did not know at what stage this work would be carried out. However, we were jolted to awareness very suddenly when in September 2000 the contractors moved in and dug up the course from one end to the other putting us into complete disarray. The layout of the course changed completely, with the loss of one hole and alteration to the tee position of another. A new 9th hole (par 4 men par 5 ladies) was constructed and a home hole (par 3) has been commenced, but we have no idea when this will be completed.
We suffered our first financial loss in the year 2000/2001, and in the year 2002/2003 are finding it difficult to regain the ground we have lost.
The course now is considerably more difficult to play and unfortunately, we lost nearly 100 members as a result of this, and the inconvenience the members suffered during the alterations. At the beginning of the financial year 2001/2002 our membership was down to 280. It has crawled up slowly during the past 4 months and in January 2002 has reached 350+, with the ratio of ladies being slightly less than 10%, but only a hand full of ladies playing in competitions. The course now measures 5,594 metres for men with a par of 70 and a rating of 68.3. For ladies it is 5,336 metres long, par 74 and rating of 73. Major changes to the clubrooms were started in late 2001 with the removal of 2 more walls.
As we are not in a very sound financial position, all the alterations are being carried out by voluntary labour and donated materials. Extensive construction work is being carried out (January 2002) with a vast improvement beginning to surface. The clubhouse renovations have continued, and by the end of 2004 we now have bar facilities, which cater very well for the needs of the members. Our Christmas dinners and Presentation Nights are conducted in our own clubrooms with mobile caterers providing meals. This means the bar profits are now retained by the club.
The male members participate in Public Course Pennants and have had reasonable success over the years having commenced playing competitions around 1982/83 in the Group IV Pennants. We now have teams in two grades.
The Social Committee of the Club has always been very active in organising social events and raising much needed funds. We have regular barbecue lunches and have done so for many years. Again it is through voluntary labour that these occur.
In 2005 the club made another forward step with the complete takeover of the course maintenance, employing our own ground staff, paying for our own water and electricity. To raise additional funds, volunteers open the club house and visitors are welcome to play by paying a Green Fee.
With the Club House open every day players are able to purchase refreshments, thus more much needed funds for the benefit of the club and its members. Many players prefer to pay for their golf on a daily basis that to join the club and pay up-front. We therefore have less members, but are still in receipt of the funds. Another recent innovation is the introduction of our own Golf Shop selling necessary golf accessories, and hiring out golf clubs and buggies.
It is now 2007 and the Club continues to thrive. We are in the process of extending the length of the 9th/18th holes and the construction of the tee block is well under way. Unfortunately, we have been hit badly by the drought and the lack of water has had a detrimental effect on the course. Unfortunately, this is a problem with most courses, but our very active Executive is working to remedy this problem.
The above section was compiled by Margaret Hewitt, Treasurer, over a number of years.
2007/2008 did not see many changes at the club but the highlight for the season was the club's Division 1 Pennant team winning the Public Courses Association Division 1 Pennant Flag for the very first time.
Not many changes have occurred due to the recycled water still not being connected to the fairway watering system. Membership numbers are still around the 250.
In 2008/2009 still waiting for recycled water to be connected but the highlight of the season was the club's Division 1 Pennant team going BACK to BACK winning the Public Courses Association Division 1 Pennant Flag along with the clubs Division 2 team winning the Division 2 Flag. This feat has not been done before.
Season 2009/2010 again found that the water was still a major concern as the deadline for connection was still up in the air. With the Government lifting water restrictions, the fairways could now see water in summer for the first time in 4 years, but it was only one night a week and with water costing $1.88/kl we could not afford to water the full course. The club decided to only water the landing areas all holes which at least gave members some green grass to hit from in summer.
The club decided to venture into the modern world by setting up there own website and then with registering with Golf Link so members had access to their handicaps away from the club.