Accidental President Steps Down 18 years and 18 Holes Later

In December 2001 Dr Max Whitten found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Consequently, the retired scientist and former hockey player was elected as President of the newly formed and aspirational Maleny Golf Club – which had no land on which to build its dream golf course. Fast forward to December 2019 – four years after the first 9 Holes were built – and one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in South-East Queensland will be completed and open for business.

After almost two decades at the helm and with the mission finally accomplished, Max decided the time was right at the recent Golf Club’s AGM to stand down, but serve for one more year as deputy to the club’s newly elected President Jeff Kruse to facilitate a seamless transition. The quality course, serviced by a top-drawer maintenance facility, was largely constructed by volunteers supported by local contractors, Bernie Porter and David Lowden, together with strategic input from professional golf course shapers. In fact Max won the Queensland Government’s 2016 Sports Volunteer Award in recognition of the volunteer engagement. Dr Whitten said the course covers around 25 per cent of the Maleny Community Precinct – the rest being devoted to other sports, effluent disposal, heritage, walking paths, rainforest and wetlands.  “After extensive community consultation over the Precinct, construction started in 2014 with a total budget of around $1.6 million,” Dr Whitten said. “Superintendent Mick McCombe has worked miracles with volunteers and contractors to oversee the transformation of dairy pastures and some dense weedy patches into a quality course. In the process he won two national and one state award for excellence.”

Businessman and former chartered accountant, David Killeen as the club’s treasurer during the club’s growth period, led a team developing our office and governance systems, ensuring that we stayed out of debt during the construction phase. “The young club is now well placed to generate sufficient revenue from members and visitors to meet the operating expenses for maintaining a quality course,” Dr Whitten said. “Former journalist and business editor of The Courier-Mail, Richard Owen, served as the club’s first golf shop manager from June 2015 to October 2017 with a remit to establish and raise the new club’s public profile by generating regular news stories in the local media and golfing magazines. “Last December, the club recruited former tour golfer and PGA Professional, Wayne Perske as the Club’s pro to continue this work – in putting the club on Queensland’s golfing map, developing its profile and attracting visitors.”

Golf Australia largely agrees with Max in recognising that the future of golf lies in quality community golf courses located in regions with mild climates, abundant water supply and proximity to urban areas free from the severe pressures being experienced in our larger cities. Maleny scores well on all these criteria.  Max and his wife, Dr Penny Edwards, worked closely towards creating this great vision and can now look forward to a tad more free time for other pursuits.

photo: Max Whitten, MGC president for 18 years, with Superintendent Mick McCombe