History of Services Golf Club
Services Golf Club was officially formed in 1920 in the area between the Grand Magazine, Weskopies Asylum, the prison department and the artillery barracks of Pretoria. The course itself was characterised as being flat and unattractive having uneven rough and sandy greens with only six holes available for play. The course was known as the “prison course”, but was later abandoned in favour of the “Robert Heights” course.
In 1924 Maj K. van der Spuy, with the help of other officers, set out to find a new location for the Robert Heights Garrison course. They sought to find a terrain that was both undulating and flat enough to lay a nine-hole course. The area that would be chosen for the new course was just north east of the Military College and below Command House. This area was however occupied by Sir Pierre van Ryneveldt with part of the area used for British troops after the Anglo-Boer war as a race course and gymkhana. This location was rocky, overgrown and somewhat a marsh with a stream running through the middle of the property.
With the help of Dave Guthrie, the professional at Pretoria Gold Club, the area was developed and designed bearing the name of Robert Heights Golf Club. Manual labour was used in order to remove rocks and thatch grass being cut away as the course slowly too shape. The first clubhouse was a corrugated iron and wooden building that had a veranda for players to sit and eat or drink tea. Beverages had to be brought to the club by players as there was no restaurant available at the time. In addition, the club was not managed and served merely as a practice course with a majority of golf played at Irene Country Club, Pretoria Country Club, Pretoria Golf Club and Zwartkop Country Club.
In 1928, Lt Strauss set about improving the conditioning of the course and soon the present day course’s foundations were laid. The club approached the nearby prison to supply convicts to remove weeds and hand cut the long grasses. Ox-drawn mowers from the nearby airfield were used to cut the fairways. Lt Tasker and cadet pilots from the air force base worked on the course when they were not flying, trying to improve the course step by step. The famous golf architect Robert Grimsdell was consulted where he approved the work Lt Tasker and his team had achieved but recommended that the local “kweek” grass be replaced with Bradley grass. Finance was a problem since there was no membership- or playing fees at the time. Grants were however provided from time to time by the Regimental fund. Donations were sometimes given to the club by private firms and competitions held in order to increase the income of the club.
In 1946 Maj Mouton decided to bring up the expenditure of the golf course from a nine-hole to eighteen-hole course. The area for the expansion was just east of the then present course known as “the camp” that was occupied by the SA Engineers Corps. As soon as the course was finally completed and upgraded membership steadily started to expand with further applications received from police and prison members to join the golf club. In 1959 the expansion of the army’s gymnasium threatened to takeover five holes of the first nine holes that would result in the course having to become a nine-hole course again. The minister at the time, who had no interest in golf even instructed that all civilian membership be cancelled which eventually resulted in a 30% drop in membership.
1960 saw a change in routing of the course and the construction new holes to accommodate the reopening of holes number 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in order for the course to be played as full eighteen holes again. In 1965 an idea was generated that the SADF, SA Police and Prison departments form a Services Country Club that would raise funds for expansion of existing facilities at the time. In 1967 a committee was formed and a memorandum proposed which was later approved by the minister of defence and in 1969 Services Country Club came into existence.
In 1974 a decision was taken that the club would simply concentrate on golf, forcing the tennis courts next to the tenth fairway to become abandoned. In 1984 the course had a healthy income seeing major renovations being done to the clubhouse and the building of the ladies’ locker rooms. In 1994 it was decided that the club be opened up to the public further increasing the membership and traffic at the golf club. The club is still a very popular golf destination for all golfers today.