by Darius Oliver
Fantastic news for the local golf industry today, that the Victorian Government has shelved plans to more than halve the size of the popular Albert Park 18-hole public golf course in Melbourne.
According to both The Age and Herald Sun newspapers, the State Government has scrapped the golf component of the Parks Victoria Albert Park Masterplan, and will retain the full 18 hole course for public golfers in the city.
Both major metropolitan daily newspapers in Melbourne have credited the Liberal Party’s policy to protect and retain the golf course as influencing State Labor’s about-face, although golfing Premier Daniel Andrews has not yet commented on the issue.
While we have been quick to criticise governing bodies in this country for elements of the game’s current malaise, it’s worth noting that both Golf Victoria and Golf Australia made compelling submissions to Parks Victoria for the retention of the full golf layout.
Included in the Golf Australia submission, were stats pointing out that more than 95% of rounds played at Albert Park were 18 holes and that the 300,000 residents currently living within 5km of the first tee would have to drive more than 10km to their nearest 18 hole golf course. They also underlined the sheer popularity of the place, with up to 80,000 rounds of public golf expected at Albert Park this year – not bad for an inner-city, tree-lined golf course that closes for several weeks when the Grand Prix is in town.
Additionally, the point was made by Golf Australia that the number of golfers who spend four hours walking a full 18 holes each year is comparable to the total number of footballers and cricketers who use the ten ovals in the Albert Park precinct. Most of those participants are younger – golf is a rare sport that is not only able to attract, but retain, adult participation.
Golf can, and must continue to, paint a compelling narrative for inclusion within Australia’s urban masterplans. Recreational golf is great socially, physically and mentally and this country has far too many public golf course battles looming ahead, to have lost this most visible and important stoush.
As far as Albert Park is concerned, we say congratulations and well done to the governing bodies and to all those who voiced their opposition to the Victorian Government’s initial proposal. This was a win for common sense and, finally, for the industry and those who love our great game. While we can celebrate we must not sit back and rest on our laurels. Warringah, Sandringham, Elsternwick and many other public golf courses across the country continue to need support.
For now, one hundred plus years of golfing tradition at Albert Park has thankfully been protected.
To read The Age article click here.
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