01 Jul 2022 | Amateur golf |
Vale Janette Wellard, 1950 Australian Women's Amateur champion
By Karen Harding
A remarkable chapter in Australian women’s golf has closed with the passing of Janette Wellard.
Wellard counted the 1950 Australian Women’s Amateur Championship amongst her many local amateur wins but in truth her Australian record would have been even greater had she not played - and won many titles - around the world. Even more incredibly, she achieved all of this without having a formal golf lesson.
Wellard was the daughter of J.P.C. (John) Wellard, who was instrumental in building the Box Hill Public Golf Links, the foundation of what is today Box Hill Golf Club. It was at this site that the young Janette, the youngest and only girl in a family of five, followed her brother Jim into golf.
So passionate about the game was she, and so determined to compete strongly against her older sibling, that she would pull a branch from a tree and use it to hit balls as practice.
She joined the then Box Hill Club at 15 and won the Associates Championship in her first year, thereafter adding achievement upon achievement, including claiming the Victorian Girls Championships four years in a row from 1947-1950, state representation from 1950-1952 and multiple club championships at Box Hill and Yarra Yarra.
But no other championship meant as much to her as her national amateur title, which she won in emphatic fashion at Royal Queensland, being eight-up after the morning 18-hole round before ultimately defeating Enid Clements 6/4. In doing so, aged 19, she became the youngest winner on record at that time.
Following her marriage to Ray Trebilco, a much decorated RAAF fighter pilot, in 1953 and the arrival of children, Wellard played her golf around those commitments. Her husband’s job took the family to Europe, Malaysia, the United States, Japan and London. In each of these countries Wellard added to her impressive list of club championships and amateur tournament titles.
Her youngest son Andrew said of his mother: “She was a natural golfer with a beautiful swing. But she was also very unassuming; she didn’t talk about her wins a lot.”
She didn’t need to.
Wellard had the respect of some of Australia’s finest golfers, being close friends with luminaries such as Peter Thomson and Norman von Nida, who gave the young Andrew golf lessons when he stayed with the family in Malaysia.
The years through the 1960s were when she reached her peak, winning a number of events during the family’s time in the US, but she kept her form for years after that, winning the Royal Canberra GC club championship in 1981, aged 50.
Wellard continued playing golf until her late 80s, most of this out of Southport Golf Club where she lived after her husband’s death in 1998.
Wellard passed away in her sleep at age 91, just six days shy of the 72nd anniversary of her cherished win in the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship.
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