25 Nov 2021 | Industry news |

Sutherland: Golf needs to stand its ground

by Golf Australia

Northcote Public Golf Course is at risk of being closed down.
Northcote Public Golf Course is at risk of being closed down.

In a letter to the Australian golf industry today, Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland has called for action by golfers and golf people to protect Northcote Public Golf Course.

The nine-hole course in Melbourne’s northern suburbs is under review by the Darebin Council after local residents who enjoyed the use of the golf course land during recent lockdowns have started a campaign for alternate uses of the land, and they have traction at council level.

“At Golf Australia, we don’t have a problem with people enjoying their green space. Who would have an issue with that? But we take exception to the notion that golf courses, pristinely presented and maintained with the help of golfers’ money, should give up their space permanently,” Sutherland said.

“We need to respond and the time is now.”

Public golf facilities at Victoria Park in Brisbane and Elsternwick in Melbourne were closed down in recent times, while Rosny Park in Hobart is closed for now as the local council has been intractable despite compromise put to them by Golf Australia and a vision of what the course could be. 

The outcome is not always bleak - Sydney’s Moore Park appears to be safe for now - and Sutherland believes that golf and alternative uses of golf courses can co-exist.

“What needs to be acknowledged is that it doesn’t have to be so black and white. There are ways to engage with the community without shutting the golf course gates,” Sutherland said.

“At Northcote, for instance, the local residents have already conceived a community hub which would allow golf, native vegetation and animals to thrive and local community groups to gather.

The people at Northcote understand that golf courses need to be a valued part of their community.”

Northcote’s golfers gain the social interaction and the health benefits - both physical and mental - that come from gracing the fairways with friends and family for $21.50 a round (and roughly half that for juniors).

These benefits are why Sutherland argues that public golf must be protected.

“Golf needs to stand its ground. So what we ask is simple,” he said.

“Even if you have never played at Northcote or even seen the course, it doesn’t matter. Because public golf is the estuary of our game. It is where most people start. Take it away, and we don’t have a game.

“Please take the survey and speak up not only for the golfers of Northcote, but for our great game.”

Northcote Public Golf Course | Your Say Darebin

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