Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dr William Brown and the Tauranga Golf Club

Dr William Brown

In 2014 the Tauranga Golf Club will celebrate one hundred years on its present site at the Racecourse Reserve.  However its origin goes back a further ten years and owes its existence to one of the more colourful characters to wear the mayoral chains in Tauranga.

Dr William Brown was given a civic welcome when he arrived from Dunedin in November, 1903 to take over the medical practice of Dr Fooks.  As a resident for less than three years this ex-medical missionary and one-time lecturer in surgery at the Otago Medical School made a considerable splash in the small pond of the borough of Tauranga (population about 1000)

In April 1904 Dr Brown, a keen golfer, instigated meetings to discuss and then establish a golf club in Tauranga.  A course of eight or nine holes was laid out from the Domain across to Sulphur Point. (A sixteen hole tournament in 1908 suggests an eight hole round) He presented a cleek (a driving iron, No 1) for competition in July 1904 and was the first captain of the Club.

In May 1905 Dr Brown, who had recently been elected as Surgeon-Captain of the Tauranga Mounted Rifles, proposed and with popular support established a Tauranga branch of the St John Association, with himself as a qualified lecturer.  Among those passing examinations in August 1905 qualifying them “to render first aid to the injured” were two of Joseph Brain's daughters, Alice and Bessie.

In the same month of May 1905 Dr Brown was elected to the office of Mayor of Tauranga and was re-elected in April the following year.  He served on the Board of the Domain Racecourse and the School Committee.  A keen bridge player he established Tauranga's first Bridge Club and at his valedictory civic farewell in June 1906 was thanked not only for his valuable service to the town but for showing bridge players “many wrinkles”

Dr Brown resigned the mayoralty and left Tauranga in June 1906 to visit Britain.  He died in Dunedin in 1916.

(Photo credit: 'Tauranga 1882-1982' The Centennial of Gazetting Tauranga as a Borough, edited by A.C.Bellamy, published by the Tauranga City Council, page 40.)

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