In 1930, exactly 80 years ago, a fourteen year old girl walked the fairways of Commonwealth Golf Club for the first time. It’s the Australian Ladies’ Championship and the gallery witnessed an exhibition of the best ladies golf in the country. The girl, speechless and spellbound, can only imagine what a joy it is to play, and is imbued from that moment on with an instinctive love of golf. Little could anyone have known that day that the journey of a life-time had just begun. And that the young girl, was in fact Miss Burtta Cheney.
From that seminal moment Burtta went on to become one of the most accomplished and complete golfers in Victoria. A founding member of Eastern, youngest ever captain of Huntingdale at 25, Australian Ladies Champion in 1957, forty years of service in the ALGU and VLGU and founder of the Junior Promotion Camps at Anglesea: Burtta did it all.
In 1937 she became the Victorian Ladies Golf Union’s youngest ever delegate. During 40 years of service, she was Vice President for 11 years, President for two and became a life member in 1983. Together with a devoted group of helpers, she visited every golf club in Victoria to set the women’s scratch score, advise on layout, and place the women’s tees. Before leaving she would also run a clinic for the members, thus completing her mission to improve both the quality of the course and the quality of the play. Always the selfless giver, her parting goodbyes often couldn’t compete with the enthusiasm of her students to use the new knowledge to improve their swings.
Her work on the Junior Promotions at Anglesea was revolutionary, initially full of obstacles to overcome, and then finally adopted nationally. In the words of a recent graduate from Anglesea: ‘The Junior Promotion program that you initiated has given people more than just a game to play. It has given us friendships, life skills, careers and, and for some a whole ‘life’ in golf.’
Many of us have heard the famous stories that made Burtta’s life in golf so famous, however this biography has searched far and wide for the unique and otherwise to be forgotten stories. Collected over a hundred hours of interviews, with Burtta, her friends, family and colleagues, the significance and character of her life is brought out. In amongst the archives, memorabilia, yearbooks, and the memories of those who helped build it, the first era of Australian golf is truly brought to life through Burtta: completely golf.