21 Feb 2024 | Clubs and Facilities |

Oakleigh decision looms

by Martin Blake

Oakleigh golf course image
Oakleigh has been a haven for golfers for 50 years. Photo: Henry Peters

D-day is approaching for the thousands of users of Oakleigh golf course in south-eastern Melbourne, where the local Monash Council is set to rule on the future of the facility.

Monash has a vote scheduled for Tuesday, 27 February after a six-month period of consultation with the community with two options canvassed – to retain the golf course or to close it and create parkland.

The Oakleigh users include NDIS participants from Reach and Belong, a disability service provider which has run a golf program at the course since 2021 under the guidance of PGA Professional Sandy Jamieson.

Reach and Belong says that the program will be lost if it has to move from Oakleigh.

The organisation has run a strong campaign to retain the golf course, with more than 4000 people signing a petition, and Golf Australia has backed Oakleigh’s right to survive with a detailed submission to the council.

Neighbouring private golf clubs including Huntingdale, Riversdale and Metropolitan have also supported the cause of the golf course.

“They (the council) sought feedback and ownership of the facility, and they got it,” said Fiona Memed, Director of Reach and Belong.

“We really hope that the response from the community will have an impact on the decision and that it will be fully considered.”

Oakleigh is currently closed for golf because of storm damage caused last week, when numerous trees were torn down.

But it hosts more than 30,000 rounds of golf played each year, with a golf club, a veterans’ group and the acclaimed program for golfers with disability.

Jamieson said his dealings with current councillors gave him optimism about the future.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of councillors and the overwhelming response that they got when they did the consultation was pro-golf,” he said.

“There is a difference between Oakleigh and Northcote (the other Melbourne course to be threatened with closure in recent years) in that at Northcote, there was a ‘close-golf group’, whereas no such group exists at Oakleigh.

“In the circumstances, I’d like to think it unlikely the council can come up with any other solution than to save the golf course.”

Oakleigh has operated as a golf course since the 1970s and has a facility management group appointed by the council.

Golf Australia’s General Manager of Clubs and Facilities, Damien de Bohun, was positive about the result.

“We hope and expect that the decision will go the way of the golf course and all its many users,” he said.

“With golf booming all around the country, this is not the time to be closing public facilities like Oakleigh. We advocate that rather than shut down a facility that has so much potential as a golf course and as a community hub and a social outlet for people of the area, the council works with the users and the management company to make it better.”

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