Sydney golf clubs locked in turf wars with councils and potentially at risk of being swallowed up by construction.
Federal Liberal politicians have taken a swing at Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s plan to cut Moore Park Golf Course in half, claiming it isn’t an elite enclave and is one of the most “active, open and accessible public courses in the country”.
And the Moore Park Gold Club Captain has called the halving of the public course from 18 holes to nine a land grab to justify new housing developments.
MP for Wentworth in eastern Sydney Dave Sharma and NSW Senator Andrew Bragg have written to Ms Moore demanding the plan be “rejected unanimously”.
Ms Moore has endorsed the plan to make way for more parkland, citing modelling that suggests an increase in housing quotas nearby would mean an additional 90,000 people living within 2km of Moore Park by 2040.
But according to Moore Park Golf Club captain Peter Kosmina, it is a misguided attempt to make up for precincts such as Green Square that have been built without adequate green space.
Mr Kosmina pointed to studies out of the UK that have found residents are unlikely to walk more than 10 minutes to enjoy a park, which would suggest Green Square residents living a longer walk than this are unlikely to make use of reclaimed golf course land.
Ms Moore has described the course as a “scandalous” misuse of land intended for public use.
But the letter from Mr Sharma and Mr Bragg says: “Moore Park is one of the most active, open and accessible public courses in the country, with over 90,000 rounds of gold played each year.
“There is no requirement to be a member to use the course, with a typical round of gold costing a third of comparable Sydney golf courses.
“Moore Park Golf Course is one of the least fenced off courses in Sydney, accessible to the public at multiple entry points for walking and exercise.”
The federal politicians could not understand why Centennial Park, Botanical Gardens, Sydney Park, Prince Alfred Park, Queens Park and Moore Park were insufficient for locals.
“The City of Sydney already has 400 public parks and this particular golf course has been there for a century providing the benefits of recreation to the community which boosts physical and mental health,” the letter stated.
“The claim that Moore Park Golf Course is a haven for the elite is wrong. It is a public golf course.
“Any plan to halve the size of the current golf course should be rejected unanimously.”
Independent councillor Kerryn Phelps will use Monday night’s council meeting to implore the council to “abandon any proposed City of Sydney plans to reduce the Moore Park Golf Course from an 18-hole course to a nine-hole course” and “investigate opportunities to create open green space elsewhere in the city”.
Golfer Louise Kendall and her daughter Harriett, 12, play at Moore Park Golf Course, where they feel women are valued.
“At other courses in Sydney women are referred to as ‘associate members’, aren’t allowed on boards and there are days when tee times are reserved only for men” Ms Kendall said.
“Moore Park was one of the first golf clubs in Australia to sign the international women’s charter for golf, which encourages women and girls to play.
“Moore Park is inclusive of women and girls, it is within people’s price range, and it must remain 18 holes.”
Ms Moore acknowledged receipt of the letter from Mr Sharma and Mr Bragg, saying she welcomed their contribution to the debate.
“We’re pleased to hear from everyone in the community – from golfers to federal members of parliament to the thousands of people who live in apartments on the doorstep of Moore Park,” Ms Moore said.
“In the face of increasing need for public open space, the City is asking whether an 18-hole golf course still the best use of inner city parkland.
“Sydney has changed since a golf course was built at Moore Park in 1913.
“We continue to grow. As a community we need to have an open and honest conversation about how we best share public assets and the City is helping facilitate that conversation – to ensure our local community is heard and our local needs met.”