20 December 2022

Optimism the Belconnen Golf Club will continue despite the Magpies’ decision not to renew the lease

| Tim Gavel
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Belconnen Golf Club. Photo: Magpies.

The 10th hole at Belconnen Golf Club. Photo: Magpies Golf Club.

Nothing, it would appear, unites a golf club community more than the possibility of closure.

It is a situation currently playing out at the Belconnen Golf Club, with the Magpies announcing they had opted not to renew their lease on running the course from 31 March next year.

The Magpies cited the high cost of non-potable water as one of the principal reasons behind the decision.

Like many in the community sports sector in Canberra, the Magpies had been waiting for the ACT Government to decide about water pricing following a review tabled in July last year.

In the end, the Magpies decided it wasn’t sustainable.

Rather than passively waiting for events to unfold, a five-member interim board has been working behind the scenes to keep the club operating beyond the 31 March 2023 deadline.

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Following the story in Region announcing the Magpies’ decision, discussions began suggesting the course could be developed.

But that won’t be happening because of restrictions on the land’s use. Instead, the focus of a committed group of members is to keep the club operational as a golf course.

Club captain John McMaster said the interim board is looking at a range of options, including leasing the golf operations from the owners, Woodhaven Investments.

The golf operations include the pro shop and the course, encompassing around 60 hectares.

The licensed premises, unfortunately, are not in their plans.

“If we don’t continue the golf operations, there is a strong chance it will disappear in the medium to long term,” Mr McMaster said.

Mr McMaster, a former basketballer and referee, joined the club in 2003. He reflects the passion members hold for the course and the club’s community. He has been captain since 2019.

With approximately 480 active members, there is justified pride in what they have achieved over time in developing the course.

Belconnen Golf Club

Part of the picturesque grounds at the Belconnen Golf Club. Photo: Magpies Golf Club.

“It’s a far better course than people give it credit for. We’re not quite up to Federal or Royal, but we are the next level down as a tier-two club.”

So where to now?

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Obviously, there needs to be a decent water rate to allow community sports clubs to survive. The Belconnen Golf Club is not the only sports club sweating on the outcome of the review in water rates.

Yet at the club, there is optimism that, one by one, the hurdles can be overcome by the members driven by a passion to play golf and to see the club survive.

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Thank goodness we don’t have a government falling for the games these clubs play.

The Magpies Golf Club has been receiving significant media exposure recently. They have been whingeing about the costs of water, threatening to close their operations if the ACT government does not reduce water costs for their golf courses. Water is a precious resource. Unlike other golf clubs in Canberra, Icon Water and ACT taxpayers fund the infrastructure and water pumping costs for the Club to continue its operations. This is despite other golf clubs around Canberra making significant investments including the construction of storage dams to reduce their reliance on our city’s water supplies.

The club was only charged a measly $160,000 in water costs for their incredibly large holdings during the 2019-20 financial period. The Magpies most recent Annual Report 2018-19 (that I can find) is available online. The club’s financial reports indicate a strong membership and significant wealth. Like many clubs around Canberra, the Magpies Club should get with the times. For a club that likes to promote inclusiveness their board of 11 consists of only two female representatives. With all of the money these clubs earn from grog and gambling, not to mention taxpayer assistance over the years, maybe the ACT government should be doing a bit more to ensure better representation on their boards.

So bitter and negative Jack D, it positively drips of the page.

You seem so preoccupied with hating community groups that provide significant services and benefits to Canberra and the less well off in our community.

Really stands in contrast to your other positions showing strong support to the government giving even more public funds to extremely wealthy private landholders and developers.

At least we know where you stand on issues around progressive issues, equity and access to community facilities to those less well off.

Also, not sure what financial report you read, the one you reference shows a club with significant financial troubles and running at a loss over those years.

Vinson1Bernie10:36 am 22 Dec 22

Maybe there were only 2 female applicants or no-one else was suitable – need more evidence – this quota for quotas sake gives you Kamala Harris etc

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