A view of Marrickville Golf Course from across the Cooks River

I’ve thought about how to write about this and all I can come up with is that Marrickville is at risk of more loss as a community.

We have already lost the ability to drive around the area in peak driving times and on weekends without significant gridlock and serious parking difficulties.

Marrickville appears to have been marked to become another Hurstville in terms of high-rise development.

We have lost employment zones to high-rise development and more is planned.

We are losing what many in the community would regard as heritage houses, again to high-rise development.

Despite $2 million spent on two years of community consultation to decide the Local Environmental Plan (LEP), high-rise in Marrickville is being planned outside the perimeters of the LEP.  ‘Infill,’ high-rise development outside the agreed areas is already happening.

When we moved to Marrickville there was a hospital and a large popular swimming pool.  These are other amenities that were lost to this suburb.

Now for the second time since I have been writing this blog, Marrickville Golf Course is being targeted by Council to either keep it as 18 holes with changes to the course or to reduce it to 9 holes so that more playing fields can be created for the young to play soccer. 

Am I against soccer?  Absolutely not.  However, I am against losing what is the most significant green space of the area and one that does an incredibly good job providing amenity and services to the community.  Can it be expanded in services?  Of course, and I am pretty sure the Club is keen to add to the significant amenity they provide to the community.

Young people learn to play golf here as part of school curriculum. Any age can play.  What I like to see continue is the patronage of older people – those who cannot run around playing soccer.

I’ve been at the Marrickville Golf Club and been surprised to see the Club House filled to the brim with older men socialising after a morning playing golf. Find me somewhere else locally where this happens.  A few men use the Marrickville Men’s Shed, but mostly, in my observation, retired men stay home.

The Marrickville RSL, which was also lost to high-rise development, was another place where older people congregated.  They went to socialise and have a hearty hot lunch, often their only real meal of the day.  I don’t know of any other place in Marrickville where older people are catered for in such large numbers as the Marrickville Golf Course and this is something for our community to be proud of and hold on to.  We will all grow old one day.

The Marrickville Golf Course provides considerable amenity to the community and you don’t need to play golf to benefit.  I know many community groups meet at the Club House.  There is also live music, a restaurant serving great cheap food, trivia nights and other social functions that those in the know frequent regularly.  It is not fancy, but it is a friendly and convivial place to have a meal, socialise with others and it is very important to many in the community.

If the Marrickville Golf Course is reduced to 9 holes, the Club believes it will be its death knell and yet another amenity lost to the community.

I’ve read arguments on Facebook that people can play golf elsewhere. The same can be said for sports on playing fields.  Travel along the river and you will see that playing fields are dotted all along the river and much of the time they are empty.

There is nothing wrong with keeping a golf course, but there is plenty that is wrong by chopping it in half.  If I remember correctly, the Marrickville Golf Course has already lost; from a 21 hole course it was reduced to 18 holes to make the playing field at Mahoney Reserve.

The Marrickville Golf Course is a truly significant green space and incredibly important for wildlife. 

This is the only place that I know where one can walk on bare earth instead of a concrete footpath.   To me this is a luxury and I love doing it.  It is not dangerous to do so because the walking path is out of the way of golfers.  Yes, I suppose you take a risk, but I have not heard of any walker who has been hit by a stray golf ball here.  We take risks every day by getting into cars and the statistic show that this is way more dangerous than walking on the edge of a golf course.  Besides, Council has plans to put a concrete shared path along the river’s edge through the golf course, so they can’t be too worried about this.

People come to the golf course to walk alone, with others and/or with their dog.  People cycle through the golf course.  The road is a great shortcut.  People bird watch here.  People come to learn and to play golf.  People come to meet others, eat, drink, listen to music and make friends.  People come for the amenity, to get out of their homes and into fresh air.  People come to regain their health and to keep their health.  People come because it makes them happy.  People come.

With over 20,000 games played every year it is not a fallow underutilised place despite what some argue.  Anything that happens here should be building upon the amenity, not reducing it.

Council is well aware of the need for more green space, especially as we are having a significant population increase in Marrickville.  This will likely be in the areas of 31,000 more people by 2036 and with the rate of development in Marrickville, this will likely be sooner rather than later.  These people will need somewhere to play and not all people need playing fields.

Lastly, some say that the golf course is targeted for development. I don’t know if this is correct, but I have seen high-rise built within 10-15 metres of the river recently, so I would not be surprised if this is in future plans.  Incremental loss seems to be the way things work.  Being in a flood prone area does not stop development these days.  I cite the plans for Carrington Road Marrickville to house 2,600 new dwellings despite being known to flood regularly when it rains.

Marrickville Golf Club is holding a rally to appeal to Council to keep the golf course at 18 holes this coming Sunday and they would like community support.

WHERE:        At the Marrickville Golf Course, probably outside the Club House.  Just head down Wharf Road and you will see people congregating.  It is impossible to get lost there.

WHEN:         Sunday 7thApril 2019

TIME:             1pm

Australian Wood ducks walking along the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  I was thrilled to see these.  

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