The club’s founder was Dr. Henry Byam Ellerton, a London-born doctor who left Leavesden Asylum in Hertfordshire for a position in the Goodna Hospital for the Insane in 1909, aged thirty-seven. Soon after arriving in his new post, he’d constructed a fine cricket oval close to his workplace. He then had visions of building a golf course as a source of occupational therapy for his patients.
And so, Goodna Golf Club was formed in 1924, with a 9-hole course opened for play. Five years later, another nine holes were added. In 1935, the club changed its name from Goodna to Gailes, reflecting a similar name change made to the local railway station. The club immediately contacted Western Gailes in Scotland and the two clubs exchanged trophies for perpetual competition.
The following extract is taken from the club’s booklet Gailes Golf Club - The First Fifty Year - 1925 to 1974:
“The allocation of the 1955 Australian Open to Gailes set off a wave of enthusiasm in the club that paralleled that of the founders. Scores of members and associates stayed with the job for months and both locker rooms were lined and ceiled and the whole of the clubhouse, including the pergola, was painted.
The approaches to the clubhouse were concreted and gangs of members under Norm Whitworth manicured the course. The new ablutions block was built by contract and that was the only improvement about the clubhouse prior to the Open which was not the voluntary work of members and associates.”
It’s believed that the course once had 184 bunkers that were maintained by patients from the adjacent hospital facility and a 16mm film produced many years ago clearly shows a nest of bunkers on the inside dogleg on the 5th hole and church pew bunkers like Oakmont’s between holes 13 and 14. Today, the course has only 69 bunkers, the result of ever-increasing maintenance costs.
The Club has also hosted an Australian Amateur in 1972 and five editions of the Queensland Open, as well as a Queensland Amateur and Australian Senior Amateur. The course was for many years surfaced with couch grass but for the last twenty years or so the club has used Tifton 328 grass on the greens and wintergreen on the fairways and tees.
Gailes is an older style members parkland course set around a gently sloped and broad hill.
The key design feature is the slight dog-legs on the holes, combined with the camber of the fairways which place a premium on placement of tee shots, especially in summer when the fairways are harder and have more run. There are lines of mature trees along the holes which penalise errant shots, but the undergrowth is fairly sparse, so recovery options are available. The conditioning was okay but with some heavy traffic areas.
I was welcome to play as a visitor in the well attended members comp on Saturday morning.
The course is in the western section of Brisbane's urban sprawl, maybe 30 minutes drive out from the city centre.
A pleasant course but not in the championship grade such as Indooroopilly, BGC or Royal, or the top tier of public access courses such as Brookwater.