You have given your life to golf, but you are not a professional golfer. You are a loving wife, mother and grandmother and have a passion for the game that would rival any golf tragic. You generously give your time to others and you have been the woman behind the man who is an iconic Australian golf coach, Charlie Earp.
You are Margaret Earp and this is your life.
Margaret Earp has met many special people on and off the course plus through her overseas travels with Charlie, as they accompanied tour players Charlie was working with to major tournaments. One of her fondest memories was at the Open Championship with Wayne Grady, Ian Baker-Finch and Vaughan Somers at Muirfield. Women were not allowed in certain areas and when Margaret was about to be denied access into a tearoom by a security guard, Grady piped up and said “she’s with us” and the three men and Margaret walked on through the door for their morning tea. Margaret was overcome with a feeling of belonging and deems her time with various tour players to be extra special.
She started playing golf at 18 years of age when friends introduced her to the game. Her first membership was at Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane (1957-1980) and her reflections of her time at the club bring back wonderful memories of friendship and a strong social life. She managed to lower her handicap gradually but reinforces that her game was never at an elite level, with a lowest handicap of 16. Despite this, now past 80, she still enjoys playing a few holes with friends, enjoying the company and fresh air.
In 1954 Margaret was first introduced to Charlie, who at that time was undertaking his traineeship at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club. Charlie lived at Coolangatta and Margaret lived in Brisbane and as a result of the distance between them, they saw each other sporadically on outings until 1958 when Charlie moved to Brisbane to take up his appointment as professional at Royal Queensland. Their friendship grew as sparks ignited and they were married in 1962. They have three children, Kayley, David and Stephen. All three play golf at different levels and enjoy playing socially together without any competitiveness. Now with seven grandchildren, Margaret and Charlie take great pleasure in seeing some of them taking an interest in the game.
Margaret Earp had a fulfilling and successful working life from the beginning. Her first role was for the Department of Civil Aviation (1955-1962). Her work was in the personnel and accounting departments but she also took on a secretarial role with their very active social club, which included arranging various outings including badminton, table tennis and golf, which suited her well. That ended in 1962 because her employment contract insisted on compulsory resignation upon marriage for females in those days. Her next role was to work alongside Charlie, who was the business owner and teaching professional at the club, so Margaret would be the most important support figure for him. Running Royal Queensland Golf Club completely encapsulated Margaret and Charlie’s lives for more than 45 years.
“Margaret Earp’s employment contract insisted on compulsory resignation upon marriage for females.”
While Margaret was rearing their three young children, she had responsibilities with the bookwork and accounting for the pro shop from home. Managing a pro shop is demanding in terms of time, especially on the weekends, and when you consider that Charlie was such a popular coach, most of his time was spent on the range. This meant Margaret and staff mostly operated the business. During the Earp era, 17 trainee professionals went through the PGA of Australia program under him. Both Margaret and Charlie speak incredibly highly of all their staff, trainees and believe the pro shop ran smoothly largely due to them. They rate hearing from many of them, catching up with their current whereabouts and fortunes as one of their greatest pleasures.
A special time in Margaret’s life was about 1983 when Charlie was requested to take on the role as Queensland team coach to look after both the men’s and ladies’ state teams. What began then were some wonderful years meeting the best amateurs of the day and helping in areas where she could. Margaret has been described as a ‘second mother’ to many of Australia’s top amateur and professional golfers. This also meant considerable travel to tournaments for Margaret and Charlie. Over the years she managed to see something of every Australian state, giving her an appreciation of our country and a thirst to see more.
The members of Royal Queensland were and remain today important people. As Margaret spent more time at the club, she became acquainted with the members and associates in a very relaxed way. There was a strong mutual respect between members and Margaret during her working days and it could be put down to her friendly nature and efficient business operations. In 1979 she was invited to join Royal Queensland as an associate member and she played as time allowed. Today, Margaret is still an integral member of the club, though not able to play too often.
There is no question Margaret Earp relished all that Royal Queensland and golf has given her and she has a lifetime of treasured memories and lasting friendships. During Charlie Earp’s time at Royal Queensland, there was something different about the club and it was because of the way Charlie and Margaret approached golf and life. It was about giving their time to others and making a difference in the world of golf. Margaret has been the backbone for Charlie and both have been excellent role models for all. The club recognised their contributions by appointing them both honorary life members on their retirement in 2003.
Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Royal Queensland and the club will be holding celebrations for its centenary. The club was established in 1920 at Hamilton and was granted its royal charter in 1921 by King George V, with the King’s official letter of notification signed by Winston Churchill. It is the premier golf club in Queensland and one of the finest in the country.
Fast Facts: Margaret Earp
Favourite course: Banff Springs, Canada
Inspirational pros: Pioneering professional Jan Stephenson, Jarrod Lyle
Interests: Antiques, local history
Other achievements: Hole-in-one at Showanomoie GC in Japan in 2006, Earp/King Golf Tours to various golf destinations since 1980.