Even before this now-accepted genesis there was golf played at Lansdowne: beginning in 1897, between six and eight women played golf on the land that was to become the Lansdowne golf course. In those days it was just farmland; having only the services of four-legged mowers — sheep — it is hard to imagine what the state of the “greens” were back then!
Just getting to the course was an expedition: there was no suburb of Lansdowne; there were no roads; and Masterton was confined to south of the Waipoua River, which would have meant a journey of two to three kilometres uphill over pure countryside. It was no wonder the match starting time was set to be two o’clock in the afternoon.
From those rough beginnings, golf rapidly became more popular. In 1903 the membership was known to be 24 men and 8 or 9 women; by 1904 that had almost tripled to 52 men and 30 women. In 1906, the role only slightly increased for the men, but women’s golf continued to surge: 59 men and 55 women.
Handicaps in those days were calculated locally — there was no national handicapping system — and men’s handicaps ranged from scratch to 30. As the par (or bogey, as it was known then) of the course was 79, scratch is roughly equivalent to a handicap of 10 in today’s parlance.