‘It’s not a crime to play golf’: Park move triggers turf war at Northcote course

Liston, who is the administrator of the nearly 3,000-strong Facebook group Community to Unlock Northcote Golf Club, said she was confident the community could share the space.

“We have succeeded in spaceflight and getting to the moon, so we can certainly manage to share a piece of land in a way that allows golf to still be played and society to still enjoy it,” she said.

Ruth Liston and other supporters of sharing green space on the Northcote Golf Course.Credit:Darrian Traynor

Northcote golfer Mark Farrelly played a round on the course on Tuesday and said golfers were happy to drop a hole, but he was worried it would lead to groups in the community taking the entire course.

“It will be a complete takeover because the more they cut down the hours and cut out the holes, golfers will not come here,” he said.

Bill Jennings, spokesman for the Northcote Community & Golf Hub, said it was “dead with a thousand cuts” for the course.

“We were prepared to accept a reduction of a certain size on the golf course, but then to start taking in split time is a step too far for us,” he said. “It’s not a crime to play golf.”

Jennings said golfers had been characterized as elitist but Northcote was a versatile public course with low fees.

“They use the stereotypes of golfers to demonize them as human beings,” he said.

Jennings said that if the golf course was open for community use after 3pm every day, the council would lose significant revenue from green fees that would no longer be paid by golfers.

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“Are park users willing to pay $ 21.50 to spend time on the ground when golfers have paid for it?” he said.

“We are extremely disappointed, but we are not without hope that if the council members examine the profitability that the mayor has requested, it would be an incredibly creative report that says it is profitable financially.”

Other golf courses were heavily used by the public during locks, including Royal Park, Burnley, Yarra Bend and Malvern Valley.

Stonnington City Mayor Jami Klisaris said the Malvern Valley runway had been an important source of open space for the community during the pandemic.

“Previous feedback from the community has shown interest in increased access to the area in the future. This is based on similar requests received during and after the covid locks,” she says.

“In the coming months, a report will be submitted to the Council for consideration which will give the community an opportunity to help shape the future of the Malvern Valley Golf Course.”

Sutherland said Golf Australia was pleased that Northcote would be retained as a nine-hole course, but more discussions needed to be held on the proposal.

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