TALKS TEE OFF

Golf clubs come to­gether to re­view fu­ture prospects

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SIMONE KERWIN

WANGARATTA’S two golf clubs have agreed to an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the sport’s fu­ture in the ru­ral city.

Ju­bilee Golf Club and Wangaratta Golf Club boards will work with Golf Vic­to­ria and Golf Busi­ness Ad­vi­sory Ser­vices (GBAS) on a joint steer­ing com­mit­tee that will con­sider all op­tions for the fu­ture of lo­cal golf.

The move was ini­ti­ated by Wangaratta Golf Club, which in­vited Ju­bilee to be part of the re­view.

“We de­cided we wanted to, rather than keep go­ing as we were go­ing, ap­proach Golf Vic­to­ria about what we could do,” Wangaratta Golf Club pres­i­dent Rob Hol­loway said.

Both clubs said mount­ing op­er­a­tional and fi­nan­cial pres­sures threat­en­ing their clubs’ sus­tain­abil­ity had ne­ces­si­tated the dis­cus­sions.

“Some­thing has to change,” Mr Hol­loway said.

“Costs go up, in­comes don’t match up, and some­where along the way, some­thing’s got to give.”

They said all pos­si­ble op­tions would be ex­plored as part of the re­view.

With Ju­bilee’s mem­ber­ship sit­ting at just over 300, Wangaratta’s just be­low 300, and an av­er­age mem­ber age around 60, Mr Hol­loway and Ju­bilee pres­i­dent Alan White said in a joint state­ment that it was “ev­i­dent that nei­ther have the ca­pac­ity to achieve the scale re­quired to gen­er­ate prof­its that will sup­port the de­sired im­prove­ments to their cour­ses and ameni­ties”.

“We’re not alone; this is hap­pen­ing all around Vic­to­ria,” Mr White said.

“Clubs rely so much on vol­un­teers, whether on the board or work­ers, and they are also be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult to find.”

They said the fact both clubs drew their mar­kets from the same wider pop­u­la­tion, and faced in­creased com­pe­ti­tion from other golf cour­ses close to Wangaratta, were among the is­sues that would be ad­dressed in the re­view.

The in­de­pen­dent ap­praisal, which ex­pects to gen­er­ate a fi­nal re­port by the end of the year, comes 10 years af­ter the clubs last en­gaged in dis­cus­sions, which Mr White said “reached a dead end”.

Mr Hol­loway said the main aim of the re­view was to en­sure the fu­ture of golf in Wangaratta, which both pres­i­dents be­lieve is a bright one.

“There is too much to lose,” Mr White said.

“What­ever we do, we are not just do­ing it for to­day’s golfer, but for gen­er­a­tions to come, so it is a pretty big re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Mr Hol­loway said the in­volve­ment of GBAS “takes the emo­tion and parochial­ism out of it”.

The steer­ing com­mit­tee will in­volve mem­bers of both clubs, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tion from GBAS.

Both club pres­i­dents con­tacted mem­bers this week to in­form them of the course of ac­tion, and said the re­sponse had been pos­i­tive.

Mr Hol­loway said the re­view would not af­fect de­vel­op­ment plans at the Wangaratta course, which fo­cus on sub­di­vi­sion and sale of land along Yar­ra­wonga Road to cre­ate a 59 lot hous­ing sub­di­vi­sion.

The club has been work­ing for

a num­ber of years to ad­vance its plans to sub­di­vide and sell part of the course along Yar­ra­wonga Road, to cre­ate 59 hous­ing lots. The project is cur­rently await­ing com­ple­tion of a cul­tural her­itage re­port be­fore it can progress fur­ther.

sker­win@ ne­me­dia.com.au

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

TIME TO TALK: Ju­bilee Golf Club pres­i­dent Alan White (left) and Wangaratta Golf Club pres­i­dent Rob Hol­loway say an in­de­pen­dent re­view of golf in Wangaratta is aimed at en­sur­ing the sport’s fu­ture in the ru­ral city.

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