WHEN considering any historical event, the influence of the role played by political, economic and social factors are all of considerable importance. They certainly were of significance in Reading Country Club’s history.
In the late 1930’s, in central Europe, the clouds of war were gathering rapidly. Hitler’s policy of anti-semitism was being used as a political platform.
Even in our country this sentiment was waxing ominously. Anti-semitism was raising its ugly head, and so it is little wonder that the accident of birth and religion made some unfit to tread the hallowed hall of other country clubs. When John Weinberg of Germiston applied in 1938 to become a member of the Germiston Golf Club, access was denied to him. If healthy recreation is what John wanted or desired by members of the Jewish Community, it was obvious that they had to provide their own facilities and opportunities. And so came about the idea of Reading Country Club.
March 1939 – The idea of founding a country club was raised and agreed upon by an informal gathering of people at the house of Mr and Mrs A Silver in Germiston.
November 1939 – The 142 morgen of land was purchased for 4 000 pounds. The money was raised through the enrolment of 250 Foundation Members at 60 pounds each (terms of payment – 2 pounds 10 a month- was accepted). The group was also offered land belonging to General Brink which has since become Alrode, but decided on this piece of land recommended by leading golf professionals as well as its close proximity to Germiston and Johannesburg.
Hard to believe today when looking at the club with its 40 000 trees, that at the time of purchase, the ground was virtually devoid of trees. There were a small number of willow trees and a small plantation of gums.
June 1940 – Under the Chairmanship of Herman Rosen, a meeting was held to adopt a Constitution and to elect a Committee, which consisted of 18 members. Golf course work commenced immediately under the direction and supervision of Sid Brews. The grass for the course was obtained from the old Geldenhuis course, which today is the site of Wychwood. Hand labour and one tractor was all there was available. The concept of drainage and underground irrigation was unheard of.
July 1943 – Official opening of the Golf Course and Clubhouse (an old homestead on the grounds was reconstructed to be used as a Clubhouse). The first president, Mr H Rosen, drove a golf ball from the first tee and declared the club open.
November 1945 – official opening of the bowling greens under the chairmanship of Mr S Guttenberg. Many problems still existed and eventually the whole golf course had to be reconstructed. It was at this stage that Piet Fouche became a groundsman and Reading became his home for the next 50 years.
In September 1949 the existing clubhouse burnt down, which was a severe loss, as most files and records were lost. A magnificent new clubhouse was built and opened in December 1950. Two extra bowling greens (this time properly drained) and a bowler’s clubhouse were later additions to the bowling facilities.
In July 1976 the clubhouse and it’s adjoining facilities (car park, bowling greens, swimming pool and tennis court) were expropriated, because a major highway (the N12) was planned to go through the Club’s property. A sum of R850 000 was paid to the club, being the settlement amount of the expropriation.
The new clubhouse, as it stands today, was opened in February 1978. It was however, decided not to build a pool and tennis courts.
The name of the club is that of a distinguished British Jew, Daniel Rufus Isaacs. He was a lawyer and a statesman, and he rose to the highest office in his land. His brilliant career began at Reading in England and he eventually became the Marquis of Reading. He died in 1935 and his son, the second Marquis of Reading, gave permission to the Club to use the name Reading. The brooch club members so proudly wear, is the coat of arms of that family.
Reading CC today
The club boasts a membership of 898 members (on June 1, 2014) with an average of 109 rounds of golf played per day over the last year.
In terms of venue hire, Reading CC offers three venues for hire to cater for bigger and smaller groups. An upstairs venue was added last year and is now an ideal venue for conferences, year-end parties, weddings, birthday parties and product launches.
Going forward it is the Club’s intention to focus much more on community involvement and really become part of this great community.