Alan Tarry has completed an exhausting 18 rounds of golf at South Lakes – in years, that is – and now he’s going fishing.
The club has appointed Mark Crowe, who was assistant manager at McCracken Country Club, to replace him. He started on Monday.
At the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve, as we count seven, six, five, four… Alan is out of here.
But while he puts this unusual timing to retire – just four days after his 60th birthday – down to his “warped sense of humour” don’t believe for one moment that he hasn’t enjoyed his time here since leaving the Royal Australian Air Force after 23 years as a navigator on Orion aircraft and commanding officer No. 10 Squadron.
Vastly different fields, but Alan’s time at South Lakes has also been about searching for success and reaching lofty heights.
While most clubs across Australia have suffered a decline in membership from the impact of the World Financial Crisis, South Lakes has done incredibly well by basically maintaining its active membership of 574 with another 85 non-playing members.
“The South Lakes Golf Club has gone from a little hick country golf course and club to the biggest golf club outside of metropolitan Adelaide,” Alan said with enormous pride.
“I believe we grew like we have because we changed our ethos. When I first came here we were very much a club, whereas now we’re more than that; we’re a much bigger part of the community.
“We host things like the Tuesday night bridge club, Goolwa Hotel social club with their bingo sessions, and a lot of dinners for sporting clubs. We do charity days. Basically, we opened up the club to the community.
“It’s also a great course because it suits anyone of any standard; we make sure it remains demographically suitable for all. We still have people like Jimmy O’Connor who is 89 years old and walks the course twice a week and plays in competitions on Saturdays. The course is not too demanding physically.
“We have really developed the course, like putting in Santa Anna Couch fairways, hell of a lot of mounding, and new lakes. The council approached us and asked us to take in storm water, so we did to help the community.”
Alan’s wonderful contribution to golf was acknowledged in 2012 when Golf Management Australia named him South Australian Golf Manager of the Year.
However, he believes his biggest reward has been the development of club juniors, including current touring pro Max McArdle, and the mere fact people are returning to playing golf after an overall lull.
“Golf has been a bit like tennis and cricket,” Alan said. “If we (Australia) are going well at something the kids want to play that sport. When we were going well with Greg Norman everyone was playing, and now Adam Scott is doing well we are seeing a lot more juniors come through. It’s great that Golf Australia is now putting a lot more effort into junior golf.
“At the same time, the younger generation is not having kids until later which makes a difference. In my day you were married in your early 20s, and now they are doing their career thing and then getting married at 30-plus so they are not getting into golf until later. They have bigger mortgages and families coming through so they cannot afford to play golf.”
Above everything, when Alan thinks of his time at South Lakes he remembers the years his dad, Ray, a coal miner from Nottinghamshire, England caddied for his sons, Craig and Shane, who both won the junior club championship. A month after his dad died in 2002, aged just 66, Craig won the club championship.
“It was a special part of our time here as a family,” Alan said. Indeed, and the good times will continue when he and his wife, Georgina, continue their passion for fishing with far greater intense.
Gone will be the days of working 50 hours a week to help the club; no longer will he stare out the window wishing he was playing on the course trying to improve his 16 handicap. It will be all about sinkers and not sinking putts.