01 Mar 2024 | Clubs and Facilities | Golf Australia |

Mount Garnet Golf Club about far more than golf

by Jimmy Emanuel

Mount Garnet Golf Club.
Mount Garnet Golf Club's nine hole course in northern Queensland.

Mount Garnet made its name in mining and cattle stations surrounding the town located over 150km south-west of Cairns.

Unlike during the 19th century when mining drove high numbers to Mount Garnet, the 2016 census recorded a population of just over 400 people, yet for those residents and many from the surrounding cattle stations, the Mount Garnet Golf Club is a critical institution. Even if playing the game isn’t a significant part of that importance.

Located inside the Mount Garnet Turf Club’s racetrack, the nine-hole course features grass greens, no trees, no bunkers and has been converted into a “links style course” by Andrew Young ahead of the annual Open tournament there this month.

Working at Golf Club President Rohan Collins’ avocado farm next door, Young has taken responsibility for a great deal at the club, with its greens currently “immaculate”.

However, its role as a community hub is at the heart of Collins and Young’s work.

“The little club is important for our community, it’s the only social outlet that we have here. There’s nothing in town,” Young said.

“Little places like this, it’s stressful enough living on farms, it’s stressful enough living in isolated areas.

“You really need this little complex for light relief, or for support. And the hub is really important.”

Beyond the occasional golfers, including upcoming “Cowboy Ambrose” events and a junior tournament for players with a Golf Australia handicap, the club itself is where most of the action happens.

Regularly hosting parties, like Young’s own 60th and a Melbourne Cup Day function, the Mount Garnett Golf Club will often have more than 100 people from the community coming together from their remote places of work or home to simply enjoy some company and support.

Friday nights see anywhere from 40 to 80 people come together for a drink and a chat in the tradition of regional golf clubs, with money raised going to local schools and the Country Women’s Association in the area.

And when it is not being used for socialising, Mount Garnet plays another highly important role.

“We are not just servicing the town, there’s all the oldest cattle stations around the place out here, they use us as a centre as well,” Young said.

“For example, for distance education every year for around 10 days. All these kids learn through distance education on the internet, so all the teachers from Cairns come here and all the kids from all the stations from up to 150km away, they come here and spend the week here at the facility.”

The education and community hub element of Mount Garnet Golf Club showcasing the social benefits delivered by golf around Australia, a number that totals $1 billion annually as reported in the Community Benefits of Golf in Australia report from late 2023.

A former four handicap player himself, Young knows that despite the lack of regular play, the course itself is of high importance, be it local children at clinics or visitors passing through town.

“We have to keep our obligation to the community. It’s easy for us to give up the golf course, but if we give it up, it is gone forever. You can’t lose assets like this in a small community,” Young said.

For anyone passing through the Tablelands region, a game of golf at Mount Garnet will be an experience unlike any other at a club showcasing the perfect example of golf creating community hubs, even for those who don’t play the game.

The end of the week perhaps the best time to stop in.

“Friday nights, best fillet steak you’ll ever eat in your life on a little hamburger.”

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