NEANGAR Park Golf Club has submitted plans for Bendigo’s first pitch ‘n putt golf course and commercial driving range in an attempt to “attract new people to the game of golf”.
The plans were submitted to the City of Greater Bendigo this week for the nine-hole course and 250-metre driving range, with a total project cost of $325,000.
After required vegetation removal is complete, the driving range is scheduled to open in May and the pitch ‘n putt course – featuring holes varying in length from 45 metres to 80 metres – to open in 15 months.
The project is dependent on a Sport Australia grant, but Neangar Park Golf Club president Phil DeAraugo said they are confident they have put forward a compelling case.
He said the project was the ideal way to secure the future viability of the club and golf in Bendigo.
“It’s really around trying to broaden the appeal of golf and trying to bring new people to the game, particularly kids and women,” Mr DeAraugo said.
“It’s about securing the future. We want to keep golf as affordable as we can, too.
“It costs money to operate a golf course, so we want to look at ways to diversify our income.”
The closest pitch ‘n putt courses are believed to be in Waverley and Geelong.
The pitch ‘n putt course would be built on the west and south side of a dam towards the southern end of the Neangar Park Golf Course grounds. It uses part of an existing driving range, along with some vegetation removal in the area.
The club believes its proposal has minimised vegetation loss and gave a preferable outcome to other golf courses which “are essentially large areas of grass fields”.
A disused machinery shed will be demolished, along with a brick toilet.
Mr DeAraugo said clubs and balls would be available for hire and non-members would be able to access the facilities, along with professional coaching at the driving range.
In its submission to council, Neangar Park Golf Club stated the works built on a council plan to increase participation in sport.
“Pitch ‘n putt is golf’s version of 20/20 cricket or bare foot bowls,” the submission reads.
“It can be played in an hour, is cheap to play and is an ideal way to learn how to swing a golf club and hit a golf ball in the air.
“The driving range will provide an opportunity for people to practice their swing and get used to hitting longer golf shots with a variety of golf clubs.”
In 2013, a report to the City of Greater Bendigo found ageing players, rising costs and declining interest could force some clubs to merge or close.
There were also issues with debt, cash flow and future water availability, and the Bendigo and Eaglehawk golf clubs merged not long after with the closure of the Eaglehawk golf course.
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