HORSHAM Golf Club former president Iain McNee has many memories of his beloved club.
Mr McNee joined the club after he and his family moved to Horsham in 1990.
“When I retired I was able to move into more roles on the board. I was president for two years – they were the years when the clubhouse was finished and when the class action lawsuit was finished,” he said.
He said Horsham Golf Club was often considered as the ‘Royal Melbourne of the bush’. Tragedy stuck the club in 2009 when it lost its clubhouse, trees and fairways during the Black Saturday bushfires.
“I have horrible memories of the loss. People just couldn’t believe that it was possible. We were eternally grateful that no one was hurt badly in the Horsham area, but we lost everything. It was just devastating,” he said.
“We lost things that just couldn't be replaced quickly. We think there were between 16,000 and 18,000 trees that were destroyed, along with the clubhouse and pro-shop.
“Then there was significant damage to the greens and fairways. The volunteer effort afterwards was just fantastic. Disasters bring out the best in people and we were supported by community members.”
Horsham players were welcomed at clubs in Edenhope, Nhill, Ararat, Hamilton and Bordertown during the recovery process.
“We used to do bus runs for people who were looking for a game. It allowed us to keep up with our passion for the game,” he said.
He said the class action lawsuit was a difficult time for the club.
“The lawsuit was a tragedy for us. In some sense, the decisions made then have since proved to be – with hindsight – a bit ambitious. But at the time, they were based on expectations around the lawsuit that were created,” he said.
“Those expectations were around a $1 million federal grant that the Rudd government promised us, then when he was toppled we were lost in the overthrow process – we never got that $1 million from the federal government.
“Decisions were made about how much we were likely to get and they proved wrong. The lawsuit outcome was significantly below what we were led to believe was a fair outcome. In part, that’s why we’re in the strife we’re in now.”
Mr McNee said he hoped the community got behind the club’s fundraising campaign.
“It offers such a relaxing outlet for people and brings a lot of people in for tourist reasons. It’s the sort of course you can play and never get sick of,” he said.
“The current board is on the right track – they are a really good board with a good mix of skills, both personal and business-wise.
“I think the business plan they have developed with consultation from a wide range of experts is one that can actually work – they just need a bit of time.”
If you wish to donate to the Horsham Golf Club’s fundraising campaign, you can contact the administrator on 5382 1615.
NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Mr McNee was a life member of Horsham Golf Club. Mr McNee is a former president of the club.