Dear Councillors and Local Board members (in particular Albert Eden),
What are you all thinking? Why do you believe you have the right to single out golf every time you seek to address years of poor decision making by City Hall? The latest iteration comes via a Council paid for report by some advisory firm that suggests golf courses are not financially viable. Blind Eddy could have told you that – it is the same for every sports field, park, library and museum in Auckland.
Instead of golf courses, next time why don’t you consider selling Albert Park; it is worth more than $1 billion – just imagine what you could do with that? Just imagine the uproar that would create!
Golf does require large tracts of open space to play on, but that feature of golf is of enormous benefit to Auckland. Over the last 100 years generations of Auckland golfers have paid for the reservation, development and maintenance of large golf courses which are now the lungs of Auckland and provide invaluable open space for all Aucklanders.
Golfers pay good money to play the game. For the 10 Council owned courses, that revenue goes to pay for the lease of the land and the maintenance and development of the land which provides employment of staff to run the golfing facility and many other economic and open space benefits to all Aucklanders. If, for example, Council had to maintain the 10 courses as open space then, at $20,000 per hectare by Council figures, it would cost it around $8 million a year alone just for mowing and general upkeep. When it comes to other sports such as soccer, rugby, league, softball and cricket, Council incurs 100% of the costs of at least $50,000 per hectare by Council figures, amounting to tens of millions per year.
The notion that golfing land should be up for grabs is an affront to those who play the sport. Golf seems to be tagged as an ‘elitist’ sport. But that is far from the truth. More people play golf than any other sport, and those who play span a wider age group than any other sport – it is not unusual to see 80 year old golfers; Sir Bob Charles being a notable one. Golf is a game you can play through your entire life. Men and women can compete against each other as can the old and young and the novice and the professional. A wide range of ethnicities play the sport – golf is particularly popular with the Polynesian and Asian communities.
It should be no surprise to you that, by your own numbers, golf is the number one participation sport in Auckland – more than one million rounds of golf are played a year by over 90,000 people. At the course I play, Chamberlain Park, you are more likely to meet up with a self-employed plumber than you are a doctor or company director.
It’s time you stopped beating up on golfers and instead look at positive ways of working together to improve, if that is your wish, the amenity value of the land. Some Councillors talk about the need for wider community usage. Such ideas are not novel; public courses in London such as Richmond Park Golf Course or even the prestigious St Andrews in Scotland allow public access to the likes of walkers, runners, dog walkers etc. At Chamberlain Park walking and biking access can easily be achieved without destroying the current 18 hole format.
So let’s ditch this nonsense about carving up golfing land for housing or other purposes and start thinking with a bit more imagination and working together constructively.
Chair of Save Chamberlain Park