12 Apr 2024 | Clubs and Facilities |

Community spirit on show as Queensland clubs rebuild

by Andrew Young

QLD Floods

When Cyclone Jasper made landfall in mid-December last year, golf clubs in the north Queensland region braced for impact. 

Aware that significant damage was likely, they understood that precautionary measures could help, but as the severe tropical weather system crossed the coast, all they could do was hope for the best. 

“Most of us have been up here a long time, so we know what we have got to do if a cyclone is coming,” explains Ralf Middel, manager of Mossman Golf Club in Cairns. 

“So, you do what you can, but you can’t tie down trees.” 

As the weather system swept through on December 13, bringing with it winds of up to 130km/h and more than 2 meters of rainfall in 48 hours, damage to golf clubs was inevitable.  

Once it moved through, the devastating effects were plain to see.  

But so too, was a passionate community spirit. 

“People couldn’t access the course for a few days afterwards,” Middel recalls. “But once they could, we had twenty volunteers out there, picking up rubbish and cleaning away trees where they could – all while it was still chucking down rain. 

“It was unreal to see. Everyone just pitched in.” 

At Mossman, where damage on the course was extensive both due to flooding and fallen trees, the repair and clean up continues, as the course has been inundated with a further 2.5 meters of rain since the start of the year. 

Challenges that have meant the course is still not fully open, the club has made use of a revised ‘composite course’ that comprises the eleven driest holes from both the front and back nines.  

“We are hopeful that we can re-open fully by the end of the month,” says Middel. “This is the longest stint I can remember that we have had to use the composite course. 

“It is still too wet to get the big machinery in that will help the final tree removal, and we still haven’t been able to get at those other seven holes for anything other than mowing the greens.” 

Similarly, Half Moon Bay Golf Club has sought to make the best of a bad situation, acting as a beacon of hope for the local community. 

Although the course was closed for nine days after the cyclone, the club opened the bar shortly afterwards, hoping to help offer a sense of normality to members. 

“Our main thought became ‘how do we help people return to a sense of normality?’ says General Manager, Tim Mackrill. “So, we offered golf at a reasonable price, discounted prices on products and merchandise and opened the bar so people could socialise, talk and navigate the grief they were going through.” 

The repair efforts at the club have also been extensive.  

Having received a $5,000 grant from the government and a further $1,000 from National Australia Bank, the club has been dedicated to the clean-up of damaged vegetation, as well as the golf shop which suffered flooding.  

To help bring golf back to the community, Half Moon Bay has been flexible with the structure of competitions; navigating a relentless wet season to get as many golfers as possible on the timesheet. 

To that end, the way the community has banded together has pleased Mackrill. 

“The local community has come out in their droves to support us,” he smiles. “Our volunteers have come from the close community of Yorkies Knob and the Northern Beaches.  

“A lot of people who have wanted to help us have also had their own problems to deal with. It reflects the nature of where golf has gone.” 

For Middel at Mossman, he believes the response has been indicative of the love for the game and the region.  

“We are very close-knit. Most of our members have been here a long time and are very passionate about the place. 

“You ask for some volunteers, and it is generally pretty easy to get people to come down. There is such wonderful community spirit.”  

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