The following edited extract is taken from Toby Cumming’s The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom:
“In 1946, Gisborne Golf Club left behind their 9-hole links at the Garden Reserve (built in 1923) and engaged Vern Morcom to lay out a new 18-hole course on ‘Brady’s Paddock’. This was not the first appearance of the Morcom name in Gisborne’s golfing history. Royal Melbourne’s revered greenkeeper of more than three decades, Claude Crockford, came to collect the seed of the local Gisborne bentgrass when he was still Mick Morcom’s assistant, and they used it to oversow the world-famous greens down in Black Rock.
Much of Vern’s design remains. Indeed, the architects of the major transformation in the late 1960s and eartl 1970s, Eric Horne and Horrey Brown, made ‘every attempt to preserve as much of Morcom’s layout as possible’. Hore and Brown’s remodel saw the clubhouse shifted further into the property, necessitating alterations to the surrounding holes, the nines flipped and the dam behind today’s 4th green planned.
The larger dam east of the clubhouse was added in 1974. Morcom’s stretch of holes from the 2nd to 9th became the 10th to 17th, and his sequence from the 11th to 15th became the 3rd to 7th. Of his five holes that didn’t survive, the unusual split-fairway 10th might have been the greatest loss, eliminated to make way for water storage. Although Vern had strongly recommended turf greens and teeing grounds, golfers played to sand scrapes throughout the 1950s and 60s. Expanded dam capacity allowed irrigated grass greens and tees to be opened for play in 1972.”