With Australia emerging from a coronovirus lockdown, a battle to access public green space in their cities has begun and is largely being fought on the country’s golf courses.
In Melbourne, the need for parks and lush green spaces was felt during its drastic lockdown, when exercise was one of the permissible reasons for leaving home. With outdoor sports – including golf – banned, local councils across the state opened the courses to the public.
But when the lockdown ended and golf was allowed to resume, some residents in the suburb of Northcott wanted to keep their local golf course open to the public, arguing that access to the space would allow locals Health and mental health benefits. The golfers were angry. Bill Jennings, a ceremonialist for more than two decades and a leader of the campaign to save the course, implicated it as a matter of fairness: “You just can’t walk and ‘we’ll do it’,” she said.
Now the council is investigating whether to cut the size of the golf course to unlock more parkland. In Sydney, a similar proposal has prompted equal parts support and backlash. Campaigns are on for suitable golf courses in the UK, where space is also a commodity.
And although they have been eradicated due to the coronovirus epidemic, according to the head of Australia’s national golf body, David Galicchio, the future of golf courses in the Inner-City areas has been debated for years.
As the Australian dream of a house with backyard with arctic hills gives way to apartment blocks to accommodate the growing population in the nation’s cities, the provenance of public green space has become a hot button issue. Remodeling golf courses is a compelling solution: they take up large amounts of land, and the number of golfers in Australia has been slowly decreasing for over two decades. Mr. Galicchio notes that membership has accelerated this year due to coronovirus but it is unclear whether it will be permanent.
Recently on a swill on Thursday morning, Northcote Golf Course had a few golfers with distant pinpicks of color against the backdrop of the rolling hills. It was far from the clutches of the locals who were reported to have flooded the course during the lockdown.
One of them, Nick Virginis, used the golf course to exercise and picnic with his three young sons during the lockdown. He described standing among his hills like Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’.
Mr. Verginis, who coordinated the campaign to open Northcote Golf Course, says that the inner most cities like him are the poorest in terms of access to the green area. He notes that Northcott Golf Course is council-owned and says that the heart of the debate for him is the question of what benefits many people.
University of Melbourne Researchers pay attention The lack of green space in urban communities is the result of poor urban planning by governments for decades. Golfers agree that green spaces are important but the question is why they had to pay the price to rectify the issue.
Debate has also become one of the assumptions. Golfers believe that public golf courses “do not symbolize the classic stereotype that golfer Donald Trump is like”; This may be more accurate for private courses with higher fees. “He has never played here,” Mr. Jennings said of Northcote.
Mr Verginis dismissed the idea that the issue is a political one, but said the golf course did not prove its value to local residents. “It’s basically a sport for big men,” he said. “They have not been able to demonstrate value for women and younger people.”
And so the fight continues.
The stories of this week are as follows: