Golf Australia has welcomed a decision to retain Northcote golf course as a nine-hole, seven-days-a-week facility after a long community debate.
Darebin Council voted on Monday night to keep the “golf focus” on the council-owned land occupied by the course, having previously suggested that it be closed at 3pm each day.
Under the compromise reached, a parcel of land on the southern boundary will be pared off and the golf course reconfigured so that the five-hectare section of land can become a public park.
The debate at Monday’s council meeting lasted well over two hours, with the two groups who have taken sides over the issue – the Northcote Community Hub and the Unlock group – featuring prominently. The council chose option A, which was to maintain the course as it stands, with the land also set aside for a park.
Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said the decision had broader ramifications than one golf course.
“Northcote is a public facility which welcomes anyone to play, and we’ve seen and heard a lot of stories over the journey from people who use a facility that is hugely popular at a time when the game of golf is booming,” said Sutherland. “We want to see solutions for shared public space, and this is a common sense approach to Northcote. It provides a solution for golfers and for accessible golf, which is what it’s all about. Golf is a fun sport for everyone.
“But it also provides a win for the broader community in the sense that some space is created for parkland.
“Northcote are getting 25,000 rounds of golf a year and the numbers that they are producing are reflective of a worldwide upward trend in participation in golf. So to have simply closed the golf course, or shut the gates at 3pm, would have been completely unfair and inequitable.”
A spokesperson for the Northcote Golf and Community Hub, Julie Williams, said the golfers were anxious to move forward.
“We’re very relieved,” said Williams. “It’s been a long battle to get to this point, and divisive at times, and we’re glad it’s over.
“We felt that Option A was the only solution that gave everyone a truly shared space and made sure that the golf course remained viable. So we couldn’t be happier that it’s the way that the council has gone. It's the best way to maintain the biodiversity of the land and the environmental corridor.”
Under Monday night’s decision, the contract to operate the golf course will go out to tender soon, with stipulations around the provider offering solutions for shared space.
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