HORSHAM Golf Club has been an iconic asset to the Wimmera since it was established in 1898.
Since that time, the club has gained a reputation for having one of the country’s best golf courses.
Club life member Bob Hayes has been a member for 30 years. He said his family had been involved with the club since the 1950s.
“My mother Phyl Hayes was a champion golfer back in the day. My passion came after football, but my parents were always involved,” he said.
He said the Horsham community was lucky to have such a high standard golf course in its backyard.
“It’s unique in the fact that it’s built on a sandbelt – if you want a bunker, you just dig a hole. The amazing transformation that went on over the years just meant it had an ambiance about it. It was a great place to be,” he said.
Mr Hayes said the impacts of the Black Saturday bushfires greatly affected the club’s members.
“They were devastated. There were actually people in tears on the day. Afterwards it was horrific to see the destruction that had occurred. The members were just devastated to think that their beautiful piece of country had been erased by fire, which no-one ever thought was possible,” he said.
He said he hoped the community would continue to support the club.
“The town needs a golf course. I’m hopeful that the community will see the benefits that it brings to the town – and it does bring a lot of benefits. This is the first time we have really gone to the community and said we need their help,” he said.
Horsham Golf Club general manager Paul Riley said golf clubs were vital assets to regional communities.
“Every town, in every corner of the globe needs a golf course – it’s the biggest played sport in the world,” he said.
“Most towns have a golf course which might be just okay. The thing is that in Horsham we don’t just have an okay golf course; we have a world-class golf course. Sometimes when it’s on your doorstep, you take it for granted.
“At the end of the day, this is one of the top 100 golf courses in Australia, and probably top 20 rural golf courses in the country.
“The community might also not realise that there are more than 1600 golf courses in Australia, so we’re in the top 10 per cent. It’s humbling that the community has got behind the campaign.”
He said he was looking forward to seeing what the future had in store for the club.
“We’re working towards reducing our debt with the foresight of eventually, year-on-year-out, making a surplus. Growing our membership base and more activities is all part of that,” he said.
Recreational facilities are drawcards
GOLF courses can be major drawcards for tourists and prospective residents alike.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said recreational facilities were vital to attract people to regional towns.
“Golf courses have been, in the past, a very significant asset that people look for when they are thinking about moving to an area, particularly if they’ve had a sporting background,” he said.
“The Horsham course is well renowned for its features and it’s a well-designed course that people are attracted to. But to move to an area, a golf course may be a number of factors that people take into account.”
He said golf courses were also big tourism drawcards.
“Golf tourism does go through ups-and-downs. In the past few years we have seen that people have been moving away from golf courses and focusing more on things like cycling,” he said.
“So yes, a golf course is an important asset, but there are other sporting facilities that people look for as well.”
Mr Kenyon wanted to encourage the Wimmera community to continue its support for the Horsham Golf Club.
“I think it’s important that if the community believes the golf course should be retained for the region, then it needs to have membership support and it needs to be considered as a major asset for the region,” he said.
Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla said the club was a key facility for Horsham.
“This course is one of the best in the state, so it’s a great attribute for the community to have,” he said.
“Clearly there is that appeal for residents, but there is also that tourism element and it creates opportunities to attract more people to the region and spend time in the area. The council hopes to continue to enhance that into the future.”
Golf Victoria regional development officer for the Wimmera Tony Collier said the Horsham Golf Club was a critical course for the Wimmera.
“It’s the heart of the Wimmera as far as golf courses are concerned,” he said.
If you wish to donate to the Horsham Golf Club’s fundraising campaign, you can contact the administrator on 5382 1615.