The "Follow the Sun" NOMADS Golf Club came into being officially in April 1960, with 106 "Founder" members attending the first monthly meeting scheduled for the first Saturday in May at the Glendower Golf Club. The meeting itself was washed out but what a party! Rain also partially disrupted the second attempt at Parkview so it was June before the first complete official NOMADS meeting took place, this time at Irene Golf Club. This, our Founding, mother Club became known as Transvaal Nomads upon the formation of the other Clubs around the country.
The success of the new club was immediate and membership soon rose to 200 when it was closed as it was impossible to accommodate all those wanting to play. This led to the arrangement of away tours to the Eastern Transvaal and Durban where games were played against local clubs.
During 1962 it was decided that funds raised would no longer be donated
solely to the National War Fund, but also to promote the game of golf in South
Africa (Golforama) and to assist those less fortunate than ourselves. The NOMADS
badge was changed to it's present format: a bell crossed by a golf club*
signifying the remembrance of others through golf.
After several NOMADS visits, 13 Durban golfers under the leadership of Noel Thompson were given the go-ahead to form a Natal Club in September 1963. After a somewhat slow start, the NOMADS concept gradually caught on and with plenty of encouragement from Transvaal, Natal forged ahead.
In the meantime, a certain Louis Immerman in Cape Town, who had heard of the NOMADS concept, was badgering Mike Florance to let him form a club in the Mother City. Eventually Louis had signed up sufficient numbers (45) to warrant the formation of the Western Province club in 1965. With three NOMADS clubs in existence, it was only a matter of time before a "National" Tournament was arranged and this Mike Florance did at Kyalami in 1966. The occasion was so successful and enjoyable that all concerned vowed that it should become an annual event, which has been the case ever since. The publicity generated by this and subsequent early Nationals was of great importance to NOMADS in that it made the formation of new clubs so much easier. In fact, the staging of the first National Tournament must be regarded as a major turning point in the history of the club.
By 1966 the pressure on the Transvaal club to take in new members was such that it was decided to split the club and let John Thornton and his fellow Pretoria based members form a new club north of the Jukskei. The Northern Transvaal club was launched in April 1967 with Mello McRobert as Captain.
At this stage it was felt that the NOMADS Golf Club had reached its peak and no other centres were large enough to support a club. However, Brian Norgarb, an ex-Transvaal NOMAD, now in Rhodesia, clamoured for the formation of a club in Salisbury. Eventually a "Show the Flag" visit was arranged and in 1969 the Rhodesia club was launched.
In 1971, the Western Province club felt that the time had come to take a third look at the Eastern Cape and two "Show the Flag" meetings were arranged in Port Elizabeth. Not only did the NOMADS have a wonderful time, but the seed was sown to successfully grow into a new club. With the assistance of an enthusiastic steering committee, Dennis Howard was able to arrange the Eastern Cape club launch in October 1972.
In 1974, half-way through his term as second Captain of Eastern Cape, Joss Hamilton was transferred to East London where he immediately set about organising the formation of a Border club. It was inaugurated with 90 Founder members in July 1975.
While the coastal development was taking place, the huge golfing population on the Reef was being baulked by the virtually static membership of the Transvaal club and something had to give. With a number of Transvaal member switching over with him, Bill Moseley got the new Eastern Transvaal club going in June 1978; thus creating the space needed for new blood in Transvaal.
The next move was rather sad. With the transition of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe NOMADS from north of the Limpopo were forbidden to fraternise with South Africans and the 1980 National Tournament in East London was the last in which they participated. On the other hand being isolated made them look inward. The old Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, then Mashonaland, when in 1984 Matabeleland was formed in Bulawayo followed in 1986 by Midlands centred in what was Gwelo (Gweru). They now have their own Executive and National Tournament. With the re-instatement of relations in 1992 both organisations send a combined club team to the respective National Tournaments.
Although it was some time before any more clubs were established, it was not for lack of trying. One group was working in Southern Cape and another in Southern Natal. The Southern Natal group had the advantage of a number of up-country NOMADS retiring to that part of the world. The two Gillies, Sales and Richardson eventually getting their club off the ground in February 1984 under the Captaincy of the latter. Southern Cape was not so easy but after a couple of false starts Jan de Kock finally got them going at a never-to-be-forgotten Seaboard Trophy meeting in Oudtshoorn in June 1985.
Within a couple of years of their formation in 1965, Western Province membership was closed and it continued that way off and on through the years, the members knowing they should do something about it, but when? A measure of the pressure which had built up can be gauged by the fact that when the Boland club was eventually launched by Bones Nagel in January 1993, they had 180 Founder members and the membership was immediately closed!
By the early 70's Transvaal NOMADS were making regular "tours" to the Lowveld to the extent that it had become one of their most popular outings. However, it never appeared to them that there was potential for another club. Eastern Transvaal though had different ideas. Shortly after their formation in 1978 they also started undertaking "Away Tours" to the Lowveld. As time went by the idea grew that a new club could be formed. and at an historic meeting of the National Executive in 1994 the then Captain of Eastern Transvaal, Dave Tod, proposed that the formation of a club in the Lowveld should be investigated. A "Show the Flag" meeting was held in Nelspruit in March '95. This was a radical departure from NOMADS lore in that the number of Founders would be considerably below the then accepted norm necessary for the successful functioning of a club, the club would rely on the hospitality of golf clubs the majority of which were only 9 hole courses and it would involve the members in a greater degree of traveling to courses than normal. Nevertheless following considerable perseverance, persuasion and close liaison between the National Executive and the parties the Lowveld club was officially inaugurated on 17 November 1996 at a meeting held at the Nelspruit Golf Club.
Over the years a number of NOMADS were transferred or moved to the Free State and several unsuccessful attempts were made to start a club. However in May 1996 no less a person than the President of the Free State Golf Union invited the NOMADS National Chairman, Neale Kunhardt, to address a small gathering of interested golfers at the Bloemfontein Golf Club in this regard. This was followed in August by a "Show the Flag" meeting at the same club after which sufficient interest was shown to warrant the election of a steering committee consisting of three ex-Nomads and an Associate Member, to assess potential support from both golfers and clubs. A major problem was the distance between centres but the enthusiasm of the steering committee members more than overcame this. They were greatly assisted by several more informal games supported by NOMADS from other centres.
In August 1997 the National Management Committee gave the Boland NOMADS Club the go-ahead to over-see the formation of the Free State Club with Herman Braam, the leader of the Free State steering committee as Captain. The Free State NOMADS Golf Club was inaugurated in great style at the Bloemfontein Golf Club on Sunday 9 November 1997.
In the interim, due to the renaming and changing of the Provincial boundaries prior to the elections of 1994 it was decided that, in line with their respective Golf Unions, the Transvaal, Northern Transvaal and Eastern Transvaal clubs changed their names to Gauteng, Northerns and Easterns respectively.
In 1996 the National Executive was approached by an ex-Southern Natal Nomad Lisle Thackwray asking for approval of and assistance toward the start up of a club in Auckland, New Zealand. Assistance was readily given and the club started its career in late 1998.
Meanwhile, sometime in 1993, a group of golfers in Gabarone, Botswana, calling themselves "GOMADS" started playing NOMADS style games once a month on a Thursday. Through the Gauteng NOMADS they applied to the National Executive for permission to become NOMADS. As they have only one 18 hole course and are in another country they were granted Independent status and were inaugurated under their Founder captain, Julian Harris, on Thursday 5 February 1998.
Notwithstanding the above apparent arms-length relationship between NOMADS in
SA and Zimbabwe with Botswana a number of representatives of the Botswana
club are invited to attend both National Tournaments and inter-Club games are
held on an annual basis. Botswana since 2001 now host their own
National Tournament in which teams from SA and Zimbabwe are invited to
Then in 2003 the National Executive was approached by another ex-Southern Natal Nomad Wayne Richardson asking for approval of and assistance toward the start up of a club in Sydney, Australia. Assistance was readily given and the Sydney club started its career in late 2003. A further club, Sydney Hills was formed in 2005. This gave rise to the original club becoming known as Sydney North. Regrettably the initial enthusiasm shown by this Club was not sustained and its Members were reincorporated into the original Sydney Club. Following his transfer to the Gold Coast, Wayne has been active in setting up a new Club in Brisbane. This was inaugurated in July 2008. A further potential Club is under investigation in Perth with the expectation that a second club in Sydney will once again become a reality.
In July 2009 a Nomads Club was inaugurated in Newbury, Berkshire, UK and a large part of their Founder membership comprised ex-patriate Zimbabweans.
Our latest international Club was started in Swaziland in February 2012 with a band of 60 very enthusiastic Founder members.
So here we are 50+ years on with a club bursting with enthusiasm and vitality. Where do we go from here? Club formation has been mooted in Western Gauteng, the Natal Midlands and Limpopo with exploratory investigations into the formation of additional clubs having been suggested in Malawi, Mauritius and Uruguay. Maybe Lesotho - who knows? - even Nigeria has been mentioned.