Royal Melbourne stands as one of the finest creations of the great Scottish architect, Dr Alister MacKenzie, whose other notable works include Cypress Point and Augusta National. MacKenzie was brought out by the Club in late 1926, during the Golden Age of golf course architecture, and began mapping out the 18 holes of the West Course (which opened in 1931).
In Alex Russell and head greenkeeper Mick Morcom, MacKenzie found two locals who shared similar philosophies on course design and how the game should be played. Russell became MacKenzie’s partner in Australia and carried on his work at RMGC with the help of Morcom. A highly accomplished player, Russell designed the East Course after MacKenzie had returned to the UK, and it opened in 1932. That trio was later complemented by Claude Crockford, another outstanding groundsman, who was chosen to be the Club’s head greenkeeper in 1937 following Morcom’s death. It was under Crockford’s expert hand that Royal Melbourne’s greens developed their fearsome reputation.
In John Green’s book The Royal Melbourne Golf Club: History of the Courses, Section Six is devoted to MacKenzie, Russell, Morcom and Crockford. Extracts on each are provided below.
Dr. Alister MacKenzie
For MacKenzie, what mattered most was not the final score but whether the journey was interesting and enjoyable. This admirably sums up Dr Alister MacKenzie and his philosophy about life and golf. For him, there was barely any distinction between the two. MacKenzie harboured a thinly veiled contempt for the ‘card-and-pencil’ player; most will agree that it is easy to be seduced by the desire to win. However, the majority of golfers will readily agree that most of their truly enjoyable golf has been those simple games with friends.
MacKenzie understood this golfers’ state of mind to a degree rarely approached by other golf architects. Many golf architects have preached allegiance to the ideal, but as Geoff Shackelford points out in The Good Doctor Returns: ‘that’s the catch phrase of all the architects today, but MacKenzie was one of the few architects who could actually carry out that philosophy.’
MacKenzie intended the West Course to be a course for the enjoyment of all members, especially those who were teeing-off for a friendly four-ball. However, in typical MacKenzie style, the line between excellence and failure was a thin one at most holes; yet he allowed for players to make spectacular recoveries from most of their mistakes.
Robert Tyre ‘Bobby’ Jones Jr, as winner of thirteen major championships and one of the outstanding golfers of all-time, penned the foreword to MacKenzie’s classic manuscript, The Spirit of St Andrews. The following excerpt, by Jones, is lifted from it: ‘it is paying his work the highest possible compliment to say that all his courses that I have played have been interesting; in every instance he has placed interest and enjoyment ahead of difficulty.’
For many golfers, pinpointing the level of enjoyment and interest derived from playing the game is just too tough to quantify. But course difficulty, for many, is more easily measured; and so many golfers equate difficulty (or its euphemism, challenging), as the more important criterion on which a course should be judged. Golfers, who can play these ‘difficult’ courses successfully, invariably drag other people along with their opinions. But, as Jones also said, ‘the great majority of the players, then as now, will be average golfers. our courses must be built for them as well as for the scratch man’.
This is a recurring theme that underpins MacKenzie’s design philosophy. The utopian golfing state has materialised in the West Course, namely: enjoyment for the greatest number. Against a relentless backdrop of non-stop advancement in golf equipment technology for as long as we can remember, the ideal still rings true. It is to be hoped that MacKenzie’s philosophy on life and golf will live on at Royal Melbourne, and that members will continue to play golf on one of the most interesting and enjoyable courses in the world – without changes being made on the basis that it should be ‘improved’ to keep it up-to-date. MacKenzie believed in rewarding good shots not penalising bad ones: there is a subtle, but very important and distinct difference.
Perhaps we should allow MacKenzie the final say, and do so by referring to his final paragraph in The Spirit of St Andrews:
“It has been repeated ad nauseam in this book that golf is a game and not a mathematical business; and that it is of vital importance to avoid anything that tends to make the game simple and stereotyped. On the contrary, every endeavour should be made to increase its strategy, variety, mystery, charm and elusiveness so that we shall never get bored with it, but continue to pursue it with increasing zest, as many old stalwarts of St Andrews do, for the remainder of their lives.”
During the 1920s, Alex Russell was one of the most successful golfers in Australia, winning the Australian Open in 1924 and being runner-up in the Australian Amateur Championship the same year. In 1924, he also won the Australian Amateur foursomes with CH (George) Fawcett—an event he won again in 1926 with AW ‘Archie’ Jackson. As an aside, Fawcett went on to win this event on two further occasions: once apiece with AW Jackson and RH Bettington. Russell won the Victorian Amateur Championship in 1925 and the South Australian Amateur Championship in 1926. In 1919, he won the Victorian Amateur foursomes with TF Routledge, and had three subsequent victories in this championship: 1922, 1925, and 1926—all with CH Fawcett. Russell won the Club Championship at Royal Melbourne in 1922, 1929 and 1937.
This was an exciting period for the Club, when Royal Melbourne Members dominated Australian amateur golf, especially Ivo Whitton, a five-time Australian Open champion. The mere fact that Russell was asked, in 1924, to provide a plan for an eighteen-hole layout at Royal Melbourne—using the land to the east of the eighth hole of that time, with an entrance from Bay Street (Cheltenham Road)—indicates that the Club must have been aware of his interest in golf course design. Russell, it is believed, studied golf design in the United Kingdom: initially, while at Cambridge before the first World War, and later in England after serving with the British expeditionary force in France. The dominant golf architect in Britain before the war (and after) was Harry Colt, so Russell would surely have been influenced by Colt’s ideas. While it is likely that he had absorbed writings by both Colt and MacKenzie, he would have been more familiar with the work of the former. Colt, in 1912, wrote a landmark paper, and it contained many of the same principles espoused by Alister MacKenzie in his 1920 publication titled Golf Architecture.
It is known that Russell read and closely studied Robert Hunter’s publication, The Links, because he commends this book to the secretary of Lake Karrinyup, Perth, in his letter to that club in March 1928. MacKenzie became a partner of Colt, and later Hunter became a partner of MacKenzie. And so, it is hardly surprising—assuming Russell prior to 1926 had embraced the ideas of Colt, and probably also of MacKenzie—that the two men, MacKenzie and Russell, should so readily concur on matters of design. The following is clear cut: Russell, in 1925, copied the approach used by Colt, which involved first drawing a contour map, and then producing a three- dimensional model. Russell would have learnt and applied these skills as a major in the Royal Garrison Artillery. During the war he spent much time as a forward observer for the guns; being well aware of the need for proper camouflage of observation posts. this was another point of common interest Russell would have had with MacKenzie.
The following perception may possibly linger in some quarters: that prior to Dr MacKenzie’s visit, Alex Russell was something of an ‘empty vessel’ as far as golf course design was concerned. This, quite simply, runs contrary to recorded opinion of that time. Another one: that Russell acquired all his skills from MacKenzie. While there is no doubt that Russell would have learnt a great deal from MacKenzie, there is an abundance of evidence that he was widely read and truly competent before MacKenzie’s arrival. Russell’s proposed design of Royal Melbourne, produced in 1924–25, was highly praised by MacKenzie. We know this, as evidenced by MacKenzie’s letter of recommendation of Russell’s design skills. The following few lines reveal the nub of the famous scot’s opinion:
“He has made a study of Golf Course Architecture for some years, and on my arrival here I was most favourably impressed with his suggested design for the new Royal Melb. Golf Course as it showed far more originality and ability than the design of any other golf course I have seen since my arrival.”
An article in Table Talk (9 December 1926) provides a similar view on Russell’s competence:
Russell is a brilliant man, has travelled extensively abroad, and has for a very long time closely interested himself both in the theory and practice of golf architecture. Rated at plus 5, his golfing standing will immediately give him considerable authority among Australians, and the suggested remodelling of Royal Melbourne, which he submitted to the club a couple of years ago, so struck Dr. MacKenzie that it finally decided him in accepting Russell as his Australian representative.
Several other articles of the time praised Russell’s work. His grasp of design is on display with Royal Melbourne’s East Course. AD Ellis, the writer of the Club’s first history in 1941, states in that publication: He was solely responsible for the design and layout of the East Course, work which, according to highest golfing authorities, could not have been more skilfully performed by anybody.
Similarly, his works at Yarra Yarra, Lake Karrinyup and Paraparaumu Beach have all remained highly relevant tests of golf, and are of a quality far exceeding anything that could have resulted from a ‘crash course’ in golf design spread over a few weeks. Indeed, the four major courses with which he was involved in Australia: Royal Melbourne (East); Royal Melbourne (West); Yarra Yarra; Lake Karrinyup, all appear in Tom Ramsay’s 1981 publication, Twenty-five Great Australian Courses and How to Play Them. Lake Karrinyup has hosted four Australian Opens and remains one of the outstanding courses in Western Australia. Paraparaumu Beach, in New Zealand, was rated seventy-ninth in the world ranking in 1999 and has hosted that nation’s open sixteen times. When Tiger Woods played in the 2002 New Zealand open held at ‘Paraparaumu’, the course was highly praised, except for the greens, which were too soft. Tackling Paraparaumu Beach when the greens are firm provides a challenging test of golf, and assuredly a most enjoyable one. Wide-ranging success of this magnitude clearly shows Alex Russell was an inspired golf architect and, as one of our own, is someone of whom we should be extremely proud.
In his closing paragraph of an article on Russell, (Golf Architecture, issue 6, 2003), Peter Thomson states:
Alex Russell was the first home grown Australian golf architect to achieve fame. It is a pity he was not able to create more. Whether his work was really MacKenzie by another name is debatable. For mine, he was his own man and, indeed, who knows—MacKenzie may have picked up a thing or two from Alex Russell.
There is one possible reason why Russell may have limited the amount of golf architecture that he undertook. Robert C Watson, then-president of the United States Golf Association (USGA), ruled in 1915 that AW Tillinghast, the renowned American golf architect, was a professional. Watson’s position, on behalf of the USGA, was as follows:
There are those who lay out plans for the construction of golf courses and derive means for support from the work. Of course an amateur has a perfect right to lay out a golf course, or even teach golf, but he can derive no benefit financially from either and still be an amateur.
This rule was temporarily suspended in November 1915. However, Tillinghast declined to seek re-instatement as an amateur, and never played competition golf again. The rule was then modified and reinstated; and this time Francis Ouimet, a legendary golfing figure who won the US Open and US Amateur titles, was among those declared to be a professional. The determination was made because he was employed in a sports store that sold, among many other items, golf equipment. The position was ‘golf (amateur) must be kept clear and free of any taint (of professionalism).’ The treatment accorded to Ouimet caused a public outcry and, in 1918, the rule was rescinded yet again. Ouimet, in 1931, won his second US Amateur title. Alex Russell must have been well aware of these rulings, and how proceedings could be tipped upside down with the change of a USGA president, and the American body’s interpretation of amateur status. Not only did Russell restrict his activities, he carried out his design work without charging a fee. At Royal Melbourne, he was a member, and so a fee would not have been expected, or appropriate. At Yarra Yarra, the account from ‘MacKenzie and Russell’ was £75,106 and one wonders if MacKenzie received half of this. And, based on his subsequent fees, did MacKenzie receive it all? When asked about his design fee at Lake Karrinyup, Russell replied: ‘How about a bottle of whisky?’ The humourists would no doubt enquire if MacKenzie received half of the bottle. Paraparaumu Beach, in New Zealand, paid for Russell’s fares. While the answers will never be known, the facts point towards Russell eliminating all chance of losing his amateur status to the whim of the USGA.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club owes a huge debt to Alex Russell. Dr Alister MacKenzie’s contribution to the West Course was great; but nothing can match the skill, time and dedication to detail, which Alex Russell showed in the construction of the Club’s two courses. Neither cultural cringe, nor thoughts of prestige and financial considerations should be allowed to cloud this.
MA ‘Mick’ Morcom
Michael Alan Morcom, who was to become an important person in the Club’s history, was raised on a farm in the Stawell area. He worked with JW Horsfall on the preparation of the Stawell Gift running track. After the period at the Stawell track, Morcom moved to Bendigo, where he was responsible for the course at the Bendigo Golf Club. In 1902, when Horsfall was the head greenkeeper at Royal Melbourne, he needed an assistant and offered Morcom the position.
In 1902, Morcom would have been twenty-six years of age; however, he was not made head greenkeeper until 1 January 1906. In April 1905, Horsfall had sought permission to be involved with outside work; during his absence Morcom took over Horsfall’s responsibilities and was subsequently paid a higher wage. In November 1905, Royal Melbourne’s Council asked for, and received reports from both Horsfall and Morcom. Soon after, a decision was made to give Horsfall one months’ notice from 1 December, paving the way for Morcom to become the head greenkeeper. From Morcom’s account of early issues recorded by Ellis in the Club’s 1941 history, it is clear he had an intimate knowledge of the problems associated with growing couch grass at Sandringham.
That Morcom was more than a grower and cutter of grass is shown by a suggestion he made in Horsfall’s absence: to install a drain, on the eighth hole, that was one-foot deep and five feet wide. Morcom’s initiative was embraced by Council. Lest anyone consider this a minor matter, the background information would change a person’s stance. Firstly, this was not just an item that the Green Committee was prepared to sanction; it was dealt with at Council level. There was a drain behind the eighth green, but this drain being suggested by Morcom almost certainly ran down the right-hand side of the eighth hole; and it required a bridge to reach the ninth tee.
Because the drain created a water hazard, the issue needed to go to Council. Morcom was clearly thinking ‘outside the square’. Other instances abound in Club minutes, even during the early stage of Morcom’s tenure, of how his forward thinking and decision-making served Royal Melbourne so well over the long haul. In 1912, RRA Balfour Melville sought permission from the Club for Morcom to provide assistance to the Sandringham Croquet Club. Morcom, clearly, was being regarded as an expert: both within and outside of The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Royal Melbourne’s grass tennis courts, which opened in 1922, were regarded as being as good as any in the country. Indeed, Australia’s Davis Cup team utilised them during practice at one stage. The above examples, and there is an abundance of others, indicate that Morcom possessed advanced turfgrass knowledge. But more than this: he knew, understood and loved sport. In January 1923, the Elsternwick Golf Club sought permission for Morcom to provide advice on their new course. Two months later there was a further request from that club for the services of Morcom to lay out its Kingston Heath course. Leave was granted.
Then, in May of the same year, Geelong Golf Club sought Morcom’s services. Permission was given for him to make an inspection and provide a report. Morcom wrote a series of interesting and knowledgeable articles in 1924 for the magazine, Golf. Excerpts from these articles help to understand Morcom’s philosophy—an important matter to aid one’s comprehension of his role in the construction of the courses. In Morcom’s article, dated 1 April 1924, his opening remark in the preamble is as follows:
‘The height of ambition of every golf club is, it is safe to say, to possess putting greens, the surface of which will be smooth and as true as it is possible to make them.’
In another article on design he further expands his thoughts on greens:
“Putting greens should not only be gracefully undulating but an endeavour should be made to vary the shape so that the contour of each green differs from that of the others, thereby providing a fresh problem for the player to study at each succeeding hole. In choosing positions for the greens it is of the utmost importance that all desirable natural features should be preserved, and that any artificial work done should harmonise with the surroundings.”
Morcom was an advocate for the use of natural, native rough. There was, however, a caveat: ‘If allowed to remain in the positions where well-placed shots should not go.’ He felt that such rough should be maintained at a reasonably low level by occasionally cutting the top back. Morcom saw such use of a natural hazard as being less expensive to maintain than bunkers. Bunkers, he thought, should vary in severity according to their location. Those near the green should be more difficult to recover from than those associated with the fairway. The penalty of a fairway bunker should not be so severe that the player could not advance the ball a reasonable distance.
As Martin Hawtree has pointed out, the greens at Royal Melbourne are not typical of the ‘Yorkshire MacKenzie’ prior to his Australia–New Zealand visit of 1926–27; but his ‘American’ greens are more like those constructed at Royal Melbourne. Instead of mounds in the body of the green, the mounds and hollows at Royal Melbourne feed in from the sides of the greens and provide the features and interests to the greens—a rolling edge, for instance, that has been moulded into the surrounds and into the body of the green. This is a return to the principles of Colt and Alison, and it fits with the philosophy espoused by Morcom.
It would appear that the work and writings of Colt, Alison and Hunter influenced Morcom and Russell in the execution of the greens at Royal Melbourne, and elsewhere. But, it is in the approaches to the West Course greens that one sees the genius of MacKenzie turned into reality by the master craftsman. MacKenzie has written that the mounds and hollows should assist the player who has correctly and strategically positioned the ball for the shot into the green; when playing from the ‘incorrect’ position, these same mounds become a ‘hazard’ of sorts. But, the most positive aspect is this: if designed correctly, as in the case of Royal Melbourne, the correct place from which to attack the pin can vary on a daily basis, or as often as the superintendent changes the pin positions. Hawtree, in this connection, makes an interesting comment in his Strategic Review when dealing with ‘Approaches’. We suspect the influence of Russell who went on to develop his ideas on the East Course with his recollections of Scottish links courses and in particular St Andrews. We have seen nothing like this in Yorkshire or Ireland prior to MacKenzie’s visit to Australia, although MacKenzie himself was more than familiar with St Andrews.
Of further interest is that while there are some similarities in the greens and bunkers in the course Morcom designed at Yarra Bend; he included very few mounds or hollows in the approaches to his greens. However, the approaches at Kingston Heath Golf Club are noticeably similar to those at Royal Melbourne. Russell, in his other courses, uses moulded approaches; these are less-marked than at Royal Melbourne, with Paraparaumu Beach being the possible exception. What is clear is that none show the skill and finesse of the approaches at Royal Melbourne. Because of these moulded approaches, coupled to the firm, fast greens, there were holes where one had to run the ball in, and holes where one needed to stop a pitch. It is far easier to talk and write about this, than to produce it on the ground; yet Mick Morcom accomplished this superbly.
It is of interest that when Morcom designed the public course at Yarra Bend, in 1928, the bunkering and greens bore a similarity to those at Royal Melbourne. The bunkers were made easier and the undulations in the greens less severe, as is appropriate for a public course. Some of the holes had very much the feel of the West Course, but they also fitted the philosophy related earlier. A person with the name of E Johnson had worked under Morcom, before the former became the new greenkeeper at Yarra Yarra Golf Club during its construction phase. Mick Morcom was asked to help with the sowing of the greens, but not the bunkers. Again, one can see how Russell and Johnson used the style of what can be called the Russell–Morcom bunkers. Or, perhaps, one should say the Morcom–Russell–MacKenzie bunkers.
While the features of the greens and bunkers typical of Morcom’s style are dealt with separately, it should be noted they were all built by horse-and-scoop. the equipment used has a great deal of influence on the final appearance of bunkers; it is almost impossible to reproduce the look of a horse-and-scoop bunker when using heavy earth-moving equipment. There was one exceptionally far-sighted suggestion, in 1926, put forward by Morcom. In looking back, its non-acceptance must have weighed heavily on successive Councils through the years, especially those from after the mid-1960s. That year, 1926, Morcom unsuccessfully proposed that a small reservoir should be built on the highest point of the new course.
MacKenzie wrote the following glowing piece after returning to England:
‘The Royal Melbourne Golf Club have the good fortune to have the best green-keeper I have come across in Britain, America or Australia—a man named Morcom.’
Morcom had a major hand in the construction of the West and east courses at Royal Melbourne, and that at Kingston Heath. These three courses are regarded as the best three courses in Victoria, and all rate in the top 100 in the world. The obituary that appeared in the report to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of 1937 sums up this man’s role at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. it is short, respectful and poignant:
Since the end of the year under review the club has suffered a severe loss by the death of M.A. Morcom, who for 35 years had been our Head Greenkeeper. His reputation as a curator was worldwide, his advice on questions of course construction was highly valued, and his knowledge of grasses was profound. His death is a loss to golf in general as well as to our club, to which he gave zealous and faithful service.
If MacKenzie, Russell and Morcom need to be included because of their roles in the construction of the courses at Royal Melbourne, then Claude Crockford must be included for bringing these two courses to the level of perfection that was achieved. In 1993, two years before he died, a book by Crockford: The Complete Golf Course—Turf and Design was published. Today, it is held up, internationally, as a collector’s item. Within, lies a description of how he managed the courses and his philosophies. It is regarded as something of a ‘bible’ for the turfgrass industry and its management.
After three years of studying architecture, marriage and the onset of the Depression meant that Crockford needed to abandon his studies and seek employment. The employment he obtained was at Yarra Bend, the public golf course designed by Mick Morcom in 1928. It has been said that these two worked closely together during the later stages of that course’s development. It was logical, therefore, that when illness impaired Morcom’s ability to carry out his work in 1935, Crockford should be chosen as his assistant at Royal Melbourne. Following Morcom’s death in 1937, Crockford was appointed head greenkeeper. Both courses were relatively new at that stage and fine tuning was still being carried out. During his forty years as the ‘Keeper of the RM Green’, many changes were made. Some, such as the new seventh hole (West), were significant. Other changes were more subtle, such as slightly re-shaping a green to improve its drainage. But, through all of this, the basic design and philosophies of MacKenzie and Russell were preserved.
Crockford clearly had an eye for the design and the subtle features that made the greens, and their surrounds, such a feature of Royal Melbourne. One senses the architectural training, and the man’s perceptive nature, coming into play when he wrote the following passage in his book:
“While the architect usually works from prepared detail plans, a number of final decisions must be made in the field. it is possible as work proceeds from the plans, that the green formation may not be as envisaged, thus entailing alterations to ensure that strategic and visual effects are represented correctly.”
Crockford’s architectural training came to the fore when, in his publication’s chapter devoted to the tees, he argues strongly for free-form tees. As a result of this advocacy, there have been claims that the free-form nature of the tees at Royal Melbourne are the work of Crockford, and that the tees were square prior to his arrival. This theory is not supported by the facts. Careful study of the aerial photograph taken in 1936, the year before Mick Morcom died, reveal that less than one-quarter of the tees were rectangular at the time; and most of these were holes where the Sandringham tees had been used. The Sandringham Course presented raised, square tees.
There is, however, an example where Crockford changed a raised, rectangular tee to a free-form one that merged naturally into its surroundings. The tee at the third hole (East) was located on the side of a slope, which fell away along the right and rear flanks. A slight rise in front of the tee resulted in restricted visibility of the fairway. In this instance, a raised, rectangular tee was appropriate. However, when the area in front of the tee was lowered in 1948, and a new tee was constructed, Crockford opted for a free-form design.
Crockford was renowned for producing firm and fast greens, as one person described his first experience at RM to the author: ‘I wondered what the crunching sound was as I walked onto the first green, and realised it was my spikes on the hard surface’. Players, of course, wore steel spikes in those days. However, it was far more than just firm and very fast greens that made Crockford’s greens famous; it was also his understanding of the nature of Morcom’s work and the designs of MacKenzie and Russell that made these greens outstanding. Crockford writes again:
“Putting greens are of three types: first are those that are plain with little if any contouring; in others the surface characteristics are pronounced and readily detected; in the third, however, it is the surface with a subtle rise and fall, elusive in definition that holds a singular interest throughout a round, and which requires experience and thought by the player in deciding the line the ball will follow. This factor is, ideally, captured in the design of putting greens. This aspect of putting green formation is noticeable at Royal Melbourne where all putts, irrespective of length or direction, must be observed and played in accord with the surface between the ball and the hole.”
When greens were being re-laid, it was Crockford’s eye for these subtle rises and falls—and an understanding of the role they played—that was so important. Greens can be re-laid by following a contour plan. However, this is like giving a piece of Shakespeare to a newsreader on a teleprompter—it is accurate, but how different it is when read by a John Gielgud or a Laurence Olivier. Crockford, like Morcom, was a true artist when it came to expressing the features of the greens.
Crockford believed in minimal watering and feeding, believing that too much of either, or an excessive combination of both, led to problems with disease and invasion by other grasses such as Poa, especially Poa annua. His aim was to keep the grass of the greens as lean as possible, enabling the sand and a suggestion of thatch to be seen between the fine, thin blades of bent grass. However, he did not believe in allowing thatch to accumulate, as evidenced by his following comments:
“Because of its objectionable nature, thatch should never be allowed to materialise on putting surfaces because it creates a very favourable environment for fungi to evolve, and makes it extremely difficult to effectively reach the organisms with fungicides.”
Crockford’s contributions were far more than just good greens; his meticulous pursuit of detail meant that the courses were always in wonderful condition. There were two very important times for which Crockford is less well-remembered. The first was the survival of both courses during World War Two, when forced to make do with a greatly reduced staff of four—and mainly older men, at that. To have closed one course, an option put forward to him, would have certainly eased his burden. However, had that been the chosen course of action, it would have taken years to bring that course back again to his standards. During this period the courses were a little ‘woolly’ or untidy by ‘Crocky’s’ standards, but the courses were returned to his criteria of excellence soon after the cessation of hostilities. Crockford, curiously, does not mention this period in his book. The other time was when the agricultural viability of the course was under threat during the 1969 drought. This is mentioned in chapter fourteen, and also in his ‘reflections’ at the end of his book. Both passages make sound reading for those dealing with drought conditions.