Golfers and Aussie rules footballers may soon be sharing the courses as the city’s battle for public space heats up.
Golf NSW and the AFL have confirmed they are thrashing out a deal on how some of metropolitan Sydney’s 91 golf courses can open their considerable land holdings to football clubs desperate for training space.
Golf NSW CEO Stuart Fraser said more than 10 Sydney golf courses — with a combined landmass of at least 300ha — are enduring “financial pressures”.
“Golf NSW has been in discussion with the AFL NSW to explore and identify any golf courses with excess space that could be utilised for ‘out of hours’ AFL training/competition activities,” Mr Fraser said.
“Other clubs in Sydney have connected with their local football community and offer alternative training and cross sport activities such as ‘Foot Golf’.”
There are 1.6 million people in Greater Sydney who live within 1.6km of a golf course and 160,400 that live within 400m, figures compiled by planning consultancy Astrolabe Group reveal.
Waterloo, Beaconsfield, Greystanes, Pemulwuy, Bexley, Arncliffe, Cabarita, Chatswood and Lane Cove have the most number of people within walking distance of a golf course.
Infrastructure and planning expert Michael Comninos called for a “new deal” where local groups or the state government give money to golf clubs in exchange for them increasing accessibility.
“The community is more likely to support change and growth if we can open up these spaces to be used by more people more often,” the Astrolabe Group director said.
“Buying more land for parks is a hard ask in established parts of Sydney.
“In most circumstances the best way to create access to parks is to use scarce public funds to enhance existing public spaces — like public golf courses.”
Asked about the proposal, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said “we should definitely look at it and if there are incentives like that to golf clubs — many of which are struggling with membership — we would be crazy not to look at it”.
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