Industry rallies to save Oakleigh

October 18, 2023
Clyde Mooney

Golf’s leading bodies are leading a fight to save the popular and exemplary Oakleigh public golf course, as its future is threatened by “unthinkable” plans.

The well-patronised course in south-eastern Melbourne, driving over 30,000 rounds each year, is to remain in public hands for the next five years – but not beyond.

Monash City Council has begun a consultation process with the local community, proposing two possible options for the public land, being to retain and improve the course, or to convert it into a park.

Oakleigh golf course has operated since the 1970s, maintained by a facilities management company appointed by Council, providing a club house, and hosting a veterans’ group as well as an acclaimed program for golfers with disability, led by Reach and Belong.

Both Golf Australia and the PGA are calling for other clubs and fans of the sport to get behind saving Oakleigh as a golf club for the long-term.

Damien de Bohun, GA General Manager of Clubs and Facilities, described it as “unthinkable” that Council might close an inclusive public facility such as Oakleigh. He and GA senior staff met with representatives of Monash Council this month, assuring them the national body would not accept any attempt to close the public course.

De Bohun says public courses are crucial for the booming sport, providing communities social, economic and environmental benefits.

“We’ll be extremely active on this issue.

“We’ll be working with the community groups here to ensure that Oakleigh golf course is here for a long, long time.”

The Reach and Belong golf program for players with disability began in 2021 and has become “an invaluable source” of community inclusion. It employs four fully accredited Golf Australia coaches, who will lose their jobs if it ends, and as the program reportedly cannot be relocated to nearby Glen Waverley golf, Reach and Belong director Fiona Memed says if Oakleigh closes it will have a “devastating impact” on the many people who use the course.

Green fees at Oakleigh set a player back less than $20, and praising the work being done in the All Abilities space, PGA of Australia Chief Executive Gavin Kirkman suggests its closure would be the wrong move.

“With golf participation climbing everywhere, now is not the time to be closing public facilities that are accessible to everyone at a very reasonable price.”

Monash Council is accepting feedback until 30 November, which can be done HERE.

A Change.org petition to save the club can be found HERE.

Reach and Belong participants with Channel 9’s Reid Butler. Image: Reach and Belong / Golf.org

Tags

Monash City Council, Oakleigh Golf Course


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