Community focus saves Sydney Municipal

Growing Golf
Community campaigners at Marrickville Golf Club, Sydney

An at-risk public course in Sydney, Australia, has secured a new long-term lease by championing community engagement and diversifying into a multi-use recreation space.

Marrickville Golf, Sporting and Community Club (MGSCC) in Sydney’s Inner West suburb faced possible closure when its local council proposed converting half its holes into sports playing fields.

The 18-hole par-60 layout is one of several public courses in northern Sydney that local councils earmarked for land reclamation, with planners citing a shortage of recreational green space. 

MGSCC successfully campaigned against the plans and won a public vote to retain its land for golf. It was awarded a new 21-year lease by Inner West Council in 2022.

Club officials attribute survival to its progressive approach to community, cultural and environmental engagement.

Andrew Tighe, President at Marrickville Golf Club, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’re very keen to develop ways in which the community can access the golf course that are not golf-related.”

Club officials at Marrickville Golf Club, Sydney, celebrate a new lease

Marrickville improved accessibility for local people by establishing a dog walking track around its perimeter and hosting family-friendly outdoor live music events.

Once a week, on Sundays, the first fairway is made available to dog owners to meet and let dogs play, while enjoying drinks.

The club operates Wharf St Kitchen, a café by day and bistro by night, run by the team from local restaurant The General. 

It stocks beer from Sydney brewers Grifters and Philters and hosts trivia nights, Taco Tuesdays and performances from local artists and musicians.

General Manager Mathew Ward says the club is unique in sport for its commitment to inclusivity and community support and zero-tolerance approach to bullying, sexism, racism and homophobia.

The golf course is located on land which originally belonged to Aboriginal Gadigal and Wangel peoples of the Eora Nation. 

An advisory group was established by the club to acknowledge the land’s traditional roots and work together on projects including a reconciliation golf day and NAIDOC week, which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

MGSCC also supports local biodiversity groups that work to restore bushland and protect biodiversity corridors at nearby Cooks River, which borders the course. 

Recent projects including planting 100 trees around an elevated outcrop near the 18th tee.

Ward calls Marrickville a “peaceful co-existence between many groups” and says people come for the golf and stay for the community.