Council approves stage one of golf strategy

The City of
Greater Geelong will negotiate new rental agreements with the East Geelong and
Clifton Springs golf clubs, as the first stage of its new three-year Golf
Facilities Strategy.

It’s intended the new arrangements will provide certainty for both clubs’
futures, ensuring fairness and equity with the City’s two other leased public courses,
Barwon Valley and Ocean Grove.

These four courses are all running sustainably under club-based management
models.

In voting to go ahead with the new rental arrangements during Tuesday night’s
meeting, council also agreed to provide extra time before the full strategy is
finalised.

This will give Lara and Queens Park golf clubs an opportunity to further
consider and consult with members on a potential transition from City-operated
to club-based management models.

The report presented to council stated that both Lara and Queens Park have indicated
‘in principle’ support for the change but need more time to work through details,
particularly in relation to water sustainability and asset renewal.

Council released a draft of the Golf Facilities Strategy 2019-21 for eight
weeks of community feedback in May, receiving nine online submissions. City
staff and councillors also met with clubs to discuss the proposed changes.

The strategy aims to see the region’s public golf clubs continuing to compete
in the crowded sport and leisure market, while giving the community access to
affordable golf facilities.

If adopted, it will see the City of Greater Geelong step away from directly
operating golf facilities over the next three years, while continuing to
support clubs to achieve sustainable management models.

This will include assistance to work on initiatives that will help the clubs
attract women, families and younger generations.

Mayor Bruce Harwood:

By carrying out stage one of the
strategy now we are able to give East Geelong and Clifton Springs golf clubs
immediate certainty around their long-term futures by offering improved rental
agreements.

However, it’s also fair for both Lara and Queens Park that we give them the
time they need to work through this process, as we assist them to transition to
a club-based management model.

Once the full strategy is finalised and implemented we’re confident we will see
all public courses being run sustainably by their tenant clubs. Just as
importantly, use of public golf facilities will remain affordable to the
community.

Councillor Anthony
Aitken, Co-Chair, Social and Infrastructure Planning portfolio:

Implementing stage one of
this strategy now will mean the four leased courses will be operating under a
uniform club managed model. We expect that all four of these courses will
continue to operate sustainably and have a strong future.

There has been fantastic engagement with the individual golf clubs throughout
this project so far, and we will continue to work closely with Lara and Queens
Park as they consider their participation level in transitioning to a new
operating model.

The overall aim of club based management models is that all of these courses
can compete in the very competitive sport and leisure market, attract more
families, young people and women to the sport and that our community continues
to have good access to affordable golf facilities.

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