25 May 2022 | Clubs & Facilities |

Northcote saved ... with a catch

by Martin Blake

Northcote golf image
Northcote golf course has operated for 60 years.

Northcote golf course has been saved, after a concerted campaign waged by and on behalf of golfers over almost two years.

The facility in northern Melbourne, which became something of a bellweather for the fight to retain public golf in Australia, will remain as a full, nine-hole course into the future after a meeting of the Darebin City Council on Monday night.

However the council has flagged that it will close the course at 3pm each day so that the community can make use of the course as general parkland.

Under the council’s compromise solution, a 5.7-hectare portion on the edge of the course will also be shaved off and made into general park area, meaning that the course will need to be redesigned.

The decision comes after much argument and a period of public consultation over the site, with one residents’ group actively calling for the golf course to be closed.

Northcote state MP Kat Theophanous has offered $200,000 from the Victorian Government towards a redesign of the site.

Mayor Lina Messina described the compromise as a “win-win” situation.

Northcote golf spokesman Bill Jennings said the golfers were exhausted from fighting the battle, and tired of compromise.

“We’re pleased that the nine holes appear to be assured,” he said. “And we’re optimistic that the Mayor has put in a condition that the officers of the council prepare a business case for the viability of the model going forward.

“We look forward to that report on whether effectively splitting time between golfers and the rest of the community is actually viable.”

Jennings said the golfers would continue fighting the 3pm lock-out. “We’ve genuinely tried to present a solution for everyone,” he said. “But our models were based on nine holes of golf, seven days a week and we don’t want to change that.”

Golf Australian Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said there was much more to pan out.

“Golf Australia is pleased that the Northcote golf course will be retained as a nine-hole facility,” he said. “The diverse community of Darebin and surrounding areas deserve it; golf is their passion and provides exercise, social activity and broader benefit to the community.

“Northcote is a public facility, open to anyone, and that is exactly what we want for the game in Australia: for it to be open, accessible and welcoming to everyone. It is the reason why we became involved in supporting the clubs and golfers who use the facility.

“These types of venues are the heart of golf in this country, and they need to be protected.

“Golf is a sport on the rise. We have seen unprecedented growth in the sport in the past two years and this is continuing even now as we emerge from the pandemic.

“As regards some of the detail of the proposals for the future of the golf course, there is a deal more discussion that needs to be had, and we look forward to constructive engagement with the council on this aspect. We also note that the council has indicated that no final decisions have been made as yet.”

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