A 1980 aerial photograph of the Cranbourne Golf Club, surrounded by farms. The diagonal road on the bottom left is the South Gippsland Highway and the road which borders the Club at the bottom is Huon Park Road. The drive way to the Club, half way up the photograph, is lined with an avenue of trees, which are easy to see if you click on the photograph to enlarge it.
Many Golf Clubs around the world had a policy (either written or unwritten) of not accepting Jewish members, and in response to this discrimination Jews formed their own golf clubs – the Potters Bar Club was established in London in 1924 and in the same year Elm Ridge Gold Club was established in Montreal. Jewish golfers in Australia also faced this same discrimination and eventually decided to form their own Club. The first meeting to establish a Melbourne based Club was held in late 1950. Syd Kaufman, called together about 30 of his friends for a meeting and the participants were very enthusiastic about forming a Club. A committee was formed at a meeting held in June 1951 with the priority being to find some suitable land. Land was looked at in Frankston and other ‘sand belt’ areas and it was eventually decided to purchase 230 acres (around 93 hectares) from E.W. Francis, on the South Gippsland Highway, bordering Huon Park Road, at Cranbourne.
It was hoped to name the Golf Club Monash, after Major General Sir John Monash, however the Jewish Gold Club in Sydney, which opened in 1950, was already named in honour of Monash, so it became the Cranbourne Country Club. The £50,000 pounds needed to fund the Golf Course was raised by offering 250 memberships at £200 pounds per member. This was eventually raised in spite of the fact that the Foundation membership was restricted to those of the Jewish faith and that many supporters could not afford £200 pounds, which is the equivalent today of over $6,000. Many of the early supporters were not golf players themselves but subscribed so that an opportunity was provided for Jews to play golf if they wanted. In the end there were 249 Foundation members. The first Committee of the Cranbourne Golf Club was elected in May 1953 and the Ground was opened officially in May 1954.
One of the issues from the beginning was whether the Club should be a ‘Jewish Golf Club’ or a ‘Golf Club for Jews’, however the Annual General Meeting of 1956 established the principal that the Club would be a Club where there is no discrimination and would be a Club for everyone.
The full story of the establishment of the Cranbourne Golf Club, which wasn’t all smooth sailing as this blog post may suggest, can be found in the book What’s Golf : the first fifty years of theCranbourne Golf Club by Les Kausman (published by Allen & Unwin, 2003). Available for loan at Cranbourne, Endeavour Hills and Pakenham Libraries. The book has some interesting photographs and a full list of the Foundation members.