As with any new venture, the personality and attitudes of the people who start the project leave an indelible impression and influence the way it is perceived by history. Maccauvlei was fortunate to have a number of strong and colourful people involved in its establishment and they laid the foundation to a famous Club.
The first Chairman was "Buck" Buchanan of the Chamber of Mines (who gave his name to the Buchanan Memorial Trophy which is still played for today). He was a remarkable man with a most eloquent turn of phrase. He wrote a weekly article for The Star under the name "Caddie". On occasion he would describe courses in England and Scotland in great detail despite the fact that he had never seen them.
"Buck" was the Club's Chairman and President for the period from 1926 to 1946. He presided at the Annual General Meeting, a formal black tie evening dress dinner, held at Dormy House. Slips of paper were handed out to a few members disclosing the names of those to be elected to the committee. The names were chosen by the Marks brothers and nobody dared to make any counter proposal. The diners then adjourned to the octagonal dance hall and partied until the early hours, mostly to the music of George Spence. Often, some midnight bathing took place and the attire of some of the men or lack of it can best be left to the imagination.
"Buck" was held in high esteem, so much so that when he decided to retire down to Durban in 1936, he was unanimously asked to retain the presidency, and thereafter used to make the trip up to Maccauvlei every quarter to chair the meetings.
The Club Secretary, Frank Grey started off as a sailor. He then joined the ERPM gold mine. The transition was apparently somewhat traumatic and in a fit of dejection, he decided to commit suicide in Boksburg Lake. Fully clothed he walked into the lake. However, when the water reached his chest, it was so cold he changed his mind and walked out again. The experience may have sharpened his judgement because he went on to become one of South Africa's first choice cricket umpires. He was persuaded to occupy the post of secretary at the Maccauvlei Golf Club, and accompanied by his beloved wife, Kate, took up residence in the first cottage. They were elected honorary members with an entertainment allowance of £10 a month.
Frank was a meticulous man, always immaculately dressed. He demanded the same from members and
nobody was allowed to enter the Clubhouse unless they were wearing a tie and jacket. Maccauvlei had become a high class club and Frank Grey ran it as such. However, there was another lighter side to his character.
On one august occasion of the AGM, Frank introduced the singing of "John Brown's Donkey had an India Rubber Tail". He stood on a chair and using a fork as a baton, conducted the singing. The procedure was that after each phrase the last word was left out and the balance mimed to the baton until there were no words left. When he stepped from his chair there was loud applause and much merriment. By popular demand, this event became an institution and took place every year until he retired.
Kate died at the Club and shortly thereafter, Frank after serving as Secretary for twenty years, retired to Durban where he died some years later. His portrait hangs in the entrance hall.
The Chief Steward
The Chief Steward, Harry Braverman, managed Dormy House. The meals he served were first class and established a tradition for fine cuisine that is still maintained by the Maccauvlei Conference Centre today. Another important portfolio he had, was to preside over an excellent wine cellar that had been laid down in the early years and was generously stocked with liquors and wines, both local and imported. This too is maintained by the Centre, strongly aided and abetted by the Anglo American Group's ownership of the Boschendal and Vergelegen wine estates. Like Frank Grey, Braverman was a stickler for quality and the maintenance of high standards and he made sure the cutlery, crockery and napery were of the finest quality.