It’s par for the course

Today’s the last instalment of ERNIE STRINGER’S history of Fremantle’s public golf course, and why a lot of players are unhappy with its new design. 

OVERALL, it is one of the state’s shortest courses. Only one Par 4 hole exceeds 300 metres, instead of the 3-400 metres commonly accepted elsewhere; it has three Par 3 holes, unusual itself, but notable by the fact that two of them barely exceed 100 metres, much shorter than the 130-200 metres common at other venues. This means it’s not challenging for male players of even moderate capability, while the women’s clubs wanting to run pennant competitions only have sufficient length if they use the men’s tees.

Condition of fairways

Except where new fairways have been laid, promises to improve others through a thick top-dressing have not eventuated; likely exacerbated by failure to lay new watering facilities over affected areas.

Off-road parking

Where the course previously had a great deal of safe off-road parking, all parking is now on Montreal Street which has become a busy arterial road as a primary lead-off from the Leach Highway extension. This is especially problematic for the many senior golfers as they off-load their golfing gear and walk part of the way to the course along this busy artery.

Despite the continuing efforts of the council’s PR office to paint a rosy picture of the redeveloped golf course, it is clearly “sub-par”. Though sufficient for most women or novice golfers, anger and discontent in the golfing community, as represented by FPGU, remains. 

It highlights the need for councils to carefully evaluate proposals for new developments, limiting the influence of highly motivated and ideologically driven community groups so vulnerable voices are not silenced and their interests disregarded.

Developments at Booyembarra Park stand in stark contrast to the recent desecration of the golf course. 

Boo Park as it’s affectionately known, emerged recently as a widely acclaimed community park with carefully maintained grassed areas, an ornamental lake, picnic areas serviced by tables and bench seating, barbecue facilities, exercise machines, a community garden, an olive grove, a skate park and walk paths around an area of recently regrown scrub. 

A wonderful facility, with the one major drawback being that apart from the occasional event it’s little used, with family picnics rarely in evidence, few children making use of the parkland play areas, and the community garden destitute.

A few people walking their dogs in the morning complements the most-used facility, the skate park, and occasional events drawing significant numbers of participants.  

The contrast between the two venues couldn’t have been more evident. 

On the one hand, a large group of some hundreds of golfers is now left with a stunted and marginal facility, with no intent by the council to invest any further finances.

Councillors and the mayor, however, regularly meet with groups associated with Boo Park to plan further developments to attract more people and justify the millions of dollars invested in its development and ongoing maintenance. 

This case reflects the difficulties experienced by councils when confronted with issues about which they have little knowledge or experience. 

In this case the council had little understanding of the extent to which its public golf course provided a much-needed facility with immediate and ongoing impact on the well-being of a large segment of the population. 

The outcome has not been well received by the golfing community and some clubs won’t return. 

The course closed for reconstruction in May 2020, with the council planning to re-open it in December 2020; that didn’t happen until February 2022, and with a strange set of conditions, devised in secret, to further alienated golfers.

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