11 Oct 2023 | Clubs & Facilities |
Golf industry backs threatened Oakleigh course
by Martin Blake
Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia have thrown their weight behind the fight to retain Oakleigh golf course in south-eastern Melbourne.
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GA senior staff including General Manager Clubs and Facilities Damien de Bohun met representatives of Monash City Council on Tuesday and made it clear that the national body would not accept any attempt to close the nine-hole public course. Golf Australia and the PGA are calling for clubs and facilities and golfers to get behind Oakleigh so that it can be retained for golf long-term. Monash has begun a consultation process with the local community, under which the golf course is guaranteed to remain for five years, but not beyond. The two options under consideration for the public land are to retain and improve the course, or to convert it to a park. GA General Manager of Clubs and Facilities, Damien de Bohun, said it was “unthinkable” that an inclusive public facility like Oakleigh could be closed by the council. Oakleigh has operated as a golf course since the 1970s and has a facility management group appointed by the council. There are more than 30,000 rounds of golf played each year, with a golf club, a veterans’ group and an acclaimed program for golfers with disability run by Reach and Belong. A green fee costs less than $20. De Bohun said public courses were crucial for a sport such as golf which is booming and for local communities through the social, economic and environmental benefits they provide. “We’ll be extremely active on this issue. We’ll be working with the community groups here to ensure that Oakleigh golf course is here for a long, long time.” PGA of Australia Chief Executive Gavin Kirkman said: “With golf participation climbing everywhere, now is not the time to be closing public facilities that are accessible to everyone at a very reasonable price. “We urge the council to consider the fabulous work being done at Oakleigh by PGA Professional Sandy Jamieson in the All Abilities space, and to consider the thousands of golfers who use the facility on a regular basis with all the health benefits that come along with it, many of them connected with the game through Sandy’s terrific programs for beginners.” Reach and Belong director Fiona Memed said the golf program for players with disability, begun in 2021, had been an invaluable source of organic community inclusion. “If Oakleigh closes it will have a devastating impact on everyone who uses this course,” she said. “We employ four participant-players with disabilities as fully accredited, Golf Australia coaches. They’re on full award employment and they will lose their jobs. We can’t go to Glen Waverley golf course, which is too large. “The outcomes we’ve seen with our golf program have been phenomenal. “We have participants who might be very anxious to start. The way it’s set up is very supportive, and they very quickly realise whatever they do, they’ll just be building on their personal skills.
"It’s an informal social setting. We’re all out, it’s very relaxed, a lot of social outcomes playing golf and keeping safe and getting exercise.
"Going to a park has no purpose. Being out here in the fresh air for golf has a purpose and you’re actually achieving an outcome.” Golfers and golf-lovers can provide feedback to Monash Council using this link: https://shape.monash.vic.gov.au/oakleigh-gc The feedback period ends on November 30.
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