TALKS TEE OFF
Golf clubs come together to review future prospects
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.
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.