The long-term future of Marrickville Golf Club now appears certain after a proposal to slice the course in almost half by the Inner West Council was defeated earlier this week.
The draft plan, put before Councillors on Tuesday, would have seen the number of holes slashed from 18 holes to just nine. Council are now proposing a 21 year lease for the club – the longest in its almost 80-year history.
One of the more affordable courses in the metropolitan area, Marrickville is also one of Sydney’s most accessible with around 20,000 rounds a year played on the par 62 layout.
Backlash against the proposal came from across all quarters, including Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. Linda Burney, Member for the neighbouring seat of Barton, also voiced her opposition to it, so too did Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.
Mr Albanese, the member of Grayndler which includes Marrickville, said the plan put the golf club itself at risk, as well as the “spirit of the Inner West.”
The club’s membership also voiced its opposition to the proposal with concerted plan to reach out to the Council’s decision-makers individually proving vital.
Marrickville President Andrew Tighe said if the decision to slice the course in half had been approved, the club would have almost certainly disappeared.
“Without 18-holes, we were pretty much gone.
“Being able to stay at 18 (holes) means we can maintain the energy of the membership.
“With our membership booming, the sky is the limit. We hope to build on this energy as we head towards our centenary,” Mr Tighe said.
With the proposal now put to bed, Mr Tighe said an agreement with Council on a long-term lease over the golf course land appeared likely.
“Council is now proposing a 21-year lease. We have not had a lease longer than six months before, and now we can prepare for the future.
“This outcome is sensational for us. We will remain 18 holes, and retain membership, which is currently going through the roof.”
Mr Tighe stressed the win for the club meant the organisation wasn’t just going to sit back and be a quiet part of the community. The current COVID crisis had also shown to many locals how vital the club’s infrastructure was.
“Moving forward, we want to communicate with all of the community groups in the Cooks River Valley.
“We want to continue to work towards getting Council and community groups onside with what we are about.
“The numbers of people out on the course during COVID has been tremendous; Non-golfer, walkers, cyclists, bird-watchers.
“We have never had access issues. People are now using the space we haven’t seen before, and we welcome the use,” Mr Tighe added.
Stuart Fraser, CEO of Golf NSW, echoed the comments of Mr Tighe and praised the Council for their sensible decision.
“Marrickville Golf Club has always been an important community asset, and the decision by the Inner West Council to recognise this fact and offer a long-term lease is a win for all involved.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance that golf plays in the physical and mental well-being of the community, not just for our sport, but as open and accessible green space for the wider community.
“Marrickville Golf Club is a leader in embracing multi-purpose use of its footprint and providing accessibility to all,” Mr Fraser added.