Founders of THE EAGLES
Dr John Gillett
1956 - 1962 The Junior Connection and the Name "Eagles"
After the Auckland Winter Championship in June 1956, nine men (Alister Campbell, Andy Fletcher, Dr John Gillett, (Club Captain) Bernie Laycock, Brian Osmand, Noel Osmand, Pax Smith, W.W. (Bill) Smith and Ron Hay-McKenzie, felt that they should be putting something back into golf. As there was no "Junior Golf", only caddies, the need was evident. Some 20 selected men from various other clubs were asked to attend an informal meeting. It was agreed to round up all youngsters and give them instructions on play, rules and etiquette. Old bags, clubs, balls, etc. were found and given to the needy. The name of "EAGLES" was chosen. Criteria for membership were having represented one's province or having played to a high standard.
First Eagles' visit to Gisborne in 1957 - photo supplied by L.A. Heard
By 1958 although busy, the group was losing its way. Enter Vic Crocombe and Aubin Heard, two men who were to have a profound effect on the future of this small group. They commended the "EAGLES" and its aims but suggested it should include administrators who could advise the smaller country clubs on finance, course care, and design while the low markers gave clinics and demonstrations.
A formal meeting was called and with the help of Rugby's "BABAS" constitution, the "EAGLES" Golfing Society was formed with Aubin Heard, President, Dr John Gillett, Club Captain, and Noel Osmand, Secretary. After a hearty discussion the Eagle emblem and Red Jacket designed by Brian Osmand was approved.
The objects of the Society were to "promote golf and good fellowship" always ancillary to the local golf association.
Within the next few years Auckland was joined by Waikato, Northland, Otago, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
These five Societies were autonomous, completely separate and operating under different constitutions. Of course there were many similarities because each new Society sought information from those already established.
1963 - The Society Concept
In 1963 the concept of a New Zealand Society had been discussed and eventually a meeting was called and held at Wairakei on June 22nd.1963. To this meeting came Aubin Heard (also representing Jack Morrison), Brian Osmand and Bob Grierson of Auckland, Wally Leitch, Reg Clough and John Vale of Waikato, Rex Morpeth, Laurie Cheal and Brian Butler of Bay of Plenty, Gladstone Wilson, Sid Dixon and Ray Davis from Hawke's Bay. Otago were not represented at this meeting and asked Bob Grierson to support the idea on their behalf.
Aubin Heard was asked to take the chair and it was decided to go ahead to form a N.Z. Society, to prepare a constitution and seek incorporation.
1964 - The Eagles Golfing Society Incorporation
By June 1964 all was ready for a further meeting - the inaugural one - and this was held in Rotorua on June 14th 1964.
Districts and persons attending were:
- Auckland - Jack Morrison, Bob Grierson, Aubin Heard.
- Waikato - Wally Leitch.
- Bay of Plenty - Laurie Cheal, Rex Morpeth.
- Hawke's Bay - Gladstone Wilson.
- Otago - Bob Grierson.
At this meeting Aubin Heard was appointed the first N.Z. President with Bob Grierson as Secretary of the N.Z. Society. The constitution was approved and incorporation was being sought (August 1964). Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay advised they would affiliate to the N.Z. Society and Otago advised they would support the formation. All Societies were prepared to standardise their constitutions to be in line with certain mandatory clauses to establish uniformity.
Messrs Heard and Grierson were asked to travel the country and "spread the gospel" with the ultimate goal of their being a Society in all areas - these to be the same as those defined by the N.Z. Golf Association. As expected, this took some time - not all districts were enamoured with the objects and operation of the N.Z. Society - and had to be convinced that we would only assist the establishment and would at all times remain ancillary to the N.Z. Golf Association (NZ Golf Inc) and its District Associations, whilst carrying out our objectives.
1965 - 1978 The Additional Societies formed.
- 1965 - Manawatu / Wanganui, Wellington.
- 1967 - Northland.
- 1968 - Nelson / Marlborough, Taranaki, Gisborne, Southland.
- 1969 - Canterbury, Mid-South Canterbury (Aorangi).
- In 1978 we were delighted to welcome Buller / Westland - thus completing the coverage of New Zealand.
- In the year 2000 the Auckland Society became Auckland / North Harbour.
Aubin Heard remained in office until 1971 by which time the first fourteen Societies were functioning - seven years from incorporation - he was succeeded by Jack Morrison. Bob Grierson was Secretary for ten years - 1964 to 1974, a splendid performance and to him the Society owes a great debt.
L to R : Ross Kennington, Michael Campbell, Keith Meadows
L to R: Sir Bob Charles, Ross Kennington, Keith Meadows.