The official engagement by the club’s number one member on June 4 preceded a special luncheon attended by 150 people in the club’s Willow Room to mark her 100th birthday.
At the new clock, at 12.30pm, golf club resort president Dario Prighel welcomed everyone for “this very special occasion”.
“The golf club is 120 years old this year - you’re only 20 years behind it,” the president told the star of the show. You’ve been a member since 1947, that’s 70 years. It’s great to see so many of your family and friends here.
“It’s a magnificent clock which can be seen from different parts of the course. I congratulate Richard (Hogg, CEO) and his staff on erecting the clock, especially on landscaping with the flowers.”
Doris, who became a life member of the club in 1992, responded: “To our lovely president and all people here, thank you for a most wonderful day. I didn’t expect anything like this. I’m just so proud of the club because I’ve loved it. Thank you all for coming, you beautiful people.”
Chief Executive Officer Richard Hogg said the club’s Board of Directors unanimously agreed to the purchase of the Federation Green coloured, steel, $10,000 time clock on the London Post Stand. “It’s in respect of our foundation members and life members, and for life members yet to come through,” he said of the clock erected last Thursday.
“We looked internationally and sourced it from Melbourne. People can recognise it as a symbol of the club. It’s something of a time piece - one in a 100-year opportunity - which is really appropriate for today’s special occasion.”
The sandstone block base complements those borders of adjacent areas on the course. The plaque will be placed in the attractive garden.
Starting golf in 1947It was 1947 when Doris joined Yarrawonga and Border Golf Club, with the clubhouse known as The Kipsey located on the hill - above the currently located Lake Course Par 5, 13th hole, with the first tee close to the now ClubMulwala entrance.
“It was just after the war. Gwen Palframan’s first husband Billy Miller decided he’d teach me how to play golf. So I played golf over the hill with a five iron for about six weeks over the railway line and he said ‘you can join and pay because you can hit a ball’,” Doris said.
“The year following was the formation of the Associates with Mrs Eve Baird, ‘a very gracious, capable lady’ becoming the first president.
“The club was then located on the hill and the clubhouse was affectionately named ‘The Kipsey’. We had to park our cars near where the landscape garden is at the now entrance to the Golf Club Road and then carry our clubs up the hill to the first tee.”
In those days, the way to make money to run the golf club was to have bridge parties and raffles according to Doris. “The Kipsey had a big stove, a wood stove, and an urn and of course there were the toilets down the bottom of the hill,” she said.
“The golf club had sand scrapes. There were no grass greens. It was nine holes and covered where some of the Lake Course is today. The late Dr Van Nooten and Dr Wilkinson (both club life members) decided we’d have oil-layered sand scrapes.
“In The Kipsey before the club was built where it is today, it was just like a great big barn. We used to have to bring the food from our homes and make gallons and gallons of soup and most of the ladies cooked meats, etcetera but when we got down to the club when it was first built after many years or persevering at The Kipsey we had a little kitchen and we thought we were just made.
“Billy Miller and John Gorman in their wisdom had decided that we should buy the property across the road which was Ball’s property and it had pigs and cows and all the rest of it there and that is how the club first expanded.”
A manager was appointed, and subsequently a caterer who was also a hairdresser. “I can remember my friend Margaret Forge saying to me: ‘Well, Doris, we’ll be able to have a hair-do as well as a feed!’. We had tournaments.”
There was laughter amongst the ladies at the second VLGU tournament which was hosted by Yarrawonga and Border Golf Club. “It was Ladies Day and we decided to have more toilets so we asked if we could use the men’s toilets and Morrie Montrose and I decided that we’d turn the men’s toilets into a waterfall so we asked one of the barmen if he could regulate the spray,” Doris said.
“We put everything we could, including ferns and frogs, to make it look like a waterfall. When the butcher, a Mr Wymms, called in and said he needed to use the toilet, Eve told him: ‘Don’t wee on my maiden hair!’.
“John Gorman and my late husband Ern Maxwell decided they would put down the first bowling green and they also had Dr Van Nooten and a few very willing helpers and it was christened the John A. Gorman Green. The men played bowls at first and then decided it would be a good idea if the ladies learnt as we all had to learnt to play bowls.
“We are very lucky to have a club we’ve got because after all it’s a palace to what we first started with.”
The 100th birthday luncheonLong time friend Alice Reid said Doris worked tirelessly at the little clubhouse on the hill. “Mr Jack Browning killed sheep and cut them up, brought them to Doris Maxwell and she then drove a truck around to deliver pieces for the ladies to cook, to cater for different functions,” Alice, who was one of several speakers last Sunday, said.
Alice said Doris’s talents included floral art, “decorating the mantel piece with beautiful arrangements”. “Doris was also a very good lawn bowler,” Alice said.
Local businessman Jim Judd spoke fondly about Doris and Ern Maxwell, regarding their Anglican Church days and golf.
Jim delivered a great insight into preparation of the first 18-hole Lake Course as we know it today, as he “dug out 74 bunkers” and his earthmaking equipment also preparing the greens for which grass greens became the new surface.
“Dr Wilkie was chairman of the ground committee and he’d say ‘Dig me a kidney-shape bunker, dig me this style, that style, but there was always Doris and other volunteers helping out with food and refreshments to keep us going,” Jim said.
Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort Life Member Alex MacKenzie has attended numerous birthday celebrations for Doris, whom he described as “having a magnificent attitude to life” and “great company”.
Yarrawonga Yacht Club identity Des Tuttle said Doris and Ern were “tremendous workers” for the yacht club.
In other speeches, Terry Brennan, Robbie Heritage and Des Maxwell spoke in glowing terms about Doris.
Grandsons of Doris, Lesley’s sons Doug, 58, of Melbourne and 56-year-old Stuart from Swan Hill, combined for a masterful performance as joint Masters of Ceremonies tracing Doris’s 100 years.
Stuart told the big gathering he asked ‘Ma’ as to her secret for longevity. “It’s about keeping active, being interested in everyday events and goings-on,” he said, before recalling many such activities as judging debs including for Miss Australia, Inner Wheel and Meals on Wheels in years gone by.
In a first for and by the golf club, Doris received a gold membership card from president Dario Prighel, which she gratefully accepted. The gold card will apply to all existing and future life members of Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.
The 150 attendees enjoyed a delicious canape lunch after former Anglican Minister at Yarrawonga, Rev Reg Farnell said grace. Immediate past parish priest Rev. Michael Jones described Doris as “sharp as a tack”. “Whether it was politics - local, state or federal - whatever the topic, Doris was tuned in. She’s a wonderful lady,” he said.
Attendees marvelled at the photographs, cards and newspaper clippings aligning one whole Willow Room wall which included a page from the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 June 1917. Doris was born in Sydney, as reported in last week’s Yarrawonga Chronicle. The wall contained congratulatory messages from Her Majesty the Queen and Australia’s Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.
Doris expressed her thanks again to Bill Gorman, who was club president when Doris was made the club’s ninth life member. “Yes, I pinned the badge on Doris that evening,” Bill said. “She’s one of the real elders ever of this club and put in so many voluntary hours for the club.”
Doris’s daughter Lesley described the big day as “really, really appropriate”. “I’m so proud of my mother, not just because of what she’s done for family but for Yarrawonga,” Lesley said.