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'THE FRANTIC FLOGGERS'
Newer members ask about our history and even some of our longer term members are not too sure of why and how we started. It is important that we remind ourselves every so often of our beginnings and background so that we do not lose track of what we are all about.
So many veterans are out there with no means of contacting others with the same problems: medical, physical and psychological. Many are experiencing social isolation, not wanting to be involved with the structure of a formal or welfare oriented association like the RSL, VVA or VVF.
Platforms are needed as part of the healing process to reach out to these veterans so that they could meet other veterans on common ground, providing an interaction and camaraderie to keep on an even keel. Golf is such a platform to deliver the message to veterans that a club like ours is for them.
Back in 1997, the original idea came from a small group of Vietnam Veterans attending a 'Heart Safe' program at Bond University. They knew the program would not go on forever and that when it was finished, they would all probably go back to living in their own private worlds and lose contact with the veterans they had met during the program.
To continue the association with these and other veterans in the community, it was decided after trying several other sports that the game of golf was the way to go. It was also decided that they would not align themselves with, nor have any affiliation with any other group or association, though individual members would be free to do so if they chose.
WHO WERE THEY
The founding fathers of the club were: Rob Wiseman, John Craufurd, John Coy and Peter McNair who played their first Golf excursion at the Burleigh Heads Golf Practice Range on Wednesday 14 January 1998, what a laugh. This was followed by several other games at various courses.
On Friday 24 April 1998 Rob Wiseman suggested a game at the Boomerang Farm Golf Course, because it was close to his home, they absolutely loved it and decided to play there in the future.
They were joined on Wednesday 29 April by Dan Tully, Bruce Bickham, Norm Small, Bob Edwards and Mick Manning and this attendance increased as the weeks went by, reaching as many as 40 to 50. Play was conducted once a month, then each fortnight and then weekly, by progression the name Vietnam Veterans Golf Club was adopted.
IDEAS INTO PRACTICE
Rob Wiseman came up with the idea of camouflage caps with embroidered names, which are still worn by some members. A club shirt was suggested and Don Porch arranged production and that item continues in several changed styles to now.* * * * * * *
While there had been an informal newsletter on occasions, the first formal one was issued in May 99 with the title 'The Frantic Flogger' which was adopted as the club's designation. The newsletter has continued in several formats and currently has the 'SITREP' title.
Golf Balls were the early prizes but as membership increased, formal trophies began to appear, bought by the club or donated by business firms and members.
DVA is now very aware of our existence and has featured us in their 'VETAFFAIRS' paper and used our assistance in conducting Veterans Health Week golf program. They also refer veterans to us and have contributed grants/funding towards our activities.
The late Norm Small was the first President/Captain of the club and guided it wisely for several years, for which he deserves our thanks and appreciation. It is certain that on arrival at the Pearly Gates, Norm's opening remark would have been - 'let's play golf'.
The aims of the club, decided by our founding fathers, was to be democratic without being bureaucratic and to promote golf to veterans no matter what their disability or standard of golf.
Over the years an informal structure was maintained in which members decided on matters as they arose by a simple majority vote. Matters that had been put to a vote had been recorded in an informal manner (or if at all) that had worked reasonably successfully.
With the club membership and activities growing, things started to become a bit more complicated. Our social (non-golf) program was increasing, we were playing more away games, we were coming into contact with other organisations (such as DVA and veterans assistance programs) and civilian businesses for sponsorship (our Combined Services Golf Day). It was decided that we needed a more formalised structure to cope with an expanding situation. We remained unique but we had to move with the times.
Following golf tradition, the positions of President, Captain, Handicapper and Treasurer were adopted and an annual general meeting held for election of management and to discuss past and proposed resolutions.
As the club's name included 'Vietnam', which would imply and create a 'last man standing' organisation, it was decided that ongoing membership would be better served by using just the term 'Veteran' under eligibility. With WW II, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam and later ongoing conflicts being sources, there was no need to create honorary or social memberships. Inclusion of these would dilute the concept of a veteran's organisation and defeat the reason WHY we were formed. We have also granted membership to Allied veterans and members and ex-members of the ADF who through no fault of their own, did not serve in an operational theatre. Therefore, membership is open to member's respective partners; immediate familiesand grandchildren.
Despite the occasional problem, including the comment that 'it won't last', the club has proven to be a success with a constant attendance each week. Someone once said 'Joint Warfare is the three Services fighting each other', the VVSGC has shown that statement to be wrong.
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