RCGC goes a notch up
The Colombo Golf Club was birthed on the Galle Face Green which was the cradle and nursery of Golf in Ceylon. The Colombo Golf Club held the first General Meeting of the Club on March 13, 1879, when it was founded during British Rule. On the first Anniversary of the formation of the Club on Saturday, 13th March 1880 the 1st Committee was formed with W.Law being appointed as the 1st Chairman and Captain and the Committee consisted of Edward Aitken, W.Somerville, F.A.Fairlie, R.Webster with R.L.M.Brown who continued as the Hony Secretary.
The home of the Colombo Golf Club changed on December 9, 1896 when the Governor H.E. Sir Joseph West Ridgeway accompanied by Lady Ridgeway and Miss Ridgeway opened The Ridgeway Links (named after the Governor) at the Model Farm at Borella which is still the home of the Colombo Golf Club. The first Ceylonese to be admitted to membership of the Colombo Golf Club was Beauchchamp de Saram and his cousin F.J.de Saram Jnr.
Subsequently 49 years since the Colombo Golf Club was formed, on June 7, 1928, the Colonial Secretary confirmed by a dispatch received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies intimating that His Majesty King George V, has been pleased to confer upon the Colombo Golf Club privilege of using the prefix ‘Royal’ and of being known in future as ‘The Royal Colombo Golf Club’.
Ever since, the RCGC has grown in stature and sometime after the Second World War more Ceylonese became members and with the advent of Independence the Majority of Ceylonese Membership became a reality. It was only in 1964 with a change in times and Ceylonese Rule that W. Pin Fernando the outstanding Golfer from 1947 with a +1 handicap was elected the first Ceylonese to be Captain of the RCGC, only to be followed by other Ceylonese, Dr. L.V.R. Fernando in 1966, Chrisso Abeyewardene in 1968, Alavi Macan Markar in 1970 and Prof. H.V.J.(Bundy) Fernando in 1972 after which only ‘Sri Lankans’ held the post. The Late Champion Pin Fernando was also the first ‘Ceylonese’ to be President of the RCGC in 1968 followed by Dr. Lance Fernando and Chrisso Abeyewardene.
After several years of history, much has changed at the RCGC over the years with the course itself going through much transformation since the Late Col.F.C.(Derek)de Saram was Ground Secretary in 1971. The RCGC today receives modern treatment with modern technology and the Club House has lost its’ ‘Country Club’ look and is now more a Restaurant cum Workshop/event venue.
The flood of membership and ‘new faces’ who have adorned the committee seats in the recent past have gradually changed the culture, face and environment of a Golf Club where Golf was of the essence and the talent to play was promoted but lost it’s way due to the lack of passion and understanding of the game. In the circumstances, 2012 promises a welcome change with many faces who served in the 2011/2012 RCGC Committee making room for some ‘Old hands’ with ‘Golfing Pedigree’ walking-in. The incumbent Captain W. Priath Fernando (Chairman UTE-CAT) was born with Golf running through his veins being the only Son of the Champion and first Ceylonese Captain and President of the RCGC Pin Fernando. Priath became a Life Member in 1979 the Centenary Year and has contributed immensely to the game of Golf as a Past Hony. Secretary and Council Member of the Sri Lanka Golf Union. Priath has being a Top Golfer in his younger days and also played Cricket and Rugby Football too for S. Thomas College Mt. Lavinia in the early 1970’s. The RCGC is also fortunate to have Nirmal Fernando (Senior Partner KPMG Ford Rhodes & Thornton Co.) as the President of the RCGC who has represented Sri Lanka in the 70’s and 80’s and is the son of the Late Prof. H.V.J.(Bundy)Fernando who was considered the ‘Authority’ of the Rules of Golf, with much experience as a Past Captain and President too. The rest of the new committee has an excellent blend of Golf, maturity, experience, Professionals and top sportsmen with a good mix of ‘Age’ as well.
Nimal Piyaratne a member since early 1980’s a conscientious Golfer is the designated Vice Captain. Ken De Alwis, Savantha de Saram, Dr. Manjula Karunaratne, Micheal Magala, Avanka Herath, Rohan Wijegoonaratne constitute the blend of Sportsmen, Professionals and heavy-weights!
All in all, the RCGC Committee for 2012/2013 looks very promising in that the knowledge of the Game, Administrative Professionalism, energy and skill is present in abundance. The new Committee will have much to do to set RCGC on a clearer ‘Golfing Course’ or on a ‘Golfing direction’ with probably one of the first tasks being to get the ‘RCGC Ladies’ on track.
The Ladies who were not even considered by the former RCGC ‘Men’ have in recent years earned many privileges as Lady Members. Specially allocated ‘Ladies Day’ – Wednesday set aside and special starting times slotted, but sadly the habitual in-fighting and probably lack of guidance from distinguished experienced Senior Ladies has resulted in an ‘Interim’ President being appointed with the Ladies unable to hold a valid AGM, finalize the constitution and form a Committee ! It may not be too far off when the Men may revoke the privileges and the RCGC Ladies may be confined to walks and Swan rides on the beautiful lake on the Waters Edge!! But, we hope for better judgment, better days and better Golf! ‘As the Crow flies.’