Date: February 13, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

Campaign to aid devastated golf clubs

Golf Australia has pledged to start a fund-raising campaign for golf clubs devastated by the north Queensland floods, with the backing of the legendary Karrie Webb.

GA’s chief executive Stephen Pitt said today a campaign would be started through the national organisation’s website with tax deductible donations as well as through government advocacy.

“It’s taken a huge toll on those communities,’’ said Pitt. “From a golfing perspective, it’s devastated a number of golf clubs. We’ve had 16 that have experienced incredible damage. There’s probably a damage bill that’s in excess of $20 million, so it’s very significant.

“From Golf Australia’s perspective – and I know Karrie’s directly experienced this being based in Townsville and having done a lot of work with the Townsville Golf Club among others – we’d like to start a fund-raising campaign to help effected clubs and to do some government advocacy to try to get some support for these clubs.

“There are clubs that are underwater. There are clubs who’ve had greens washed away. It’s quite horrific and they are really important facilities within communities. We’d like to lead a charge and band together for those clubs and get them back on their feet.”

Webb, who lives in Townsville when she is in Australia, said the floods had personally devastated her. “Obviously growing up in north Queensland we’ve experienced floods before but never to this extent, at least not in my lifetime,” she said. “I’m just devastated for the north Queensland community, especially the Townsville community. My family were all very fortunate, but I’ve got a ton of friends who weren’t so lucky and who had various degrees of flooding through their houses, and the clean-up goes on. My heart goes out to everyone in Townsville dealing with that.”

Ricki Lasky, the LPGA’s chief tournament business officer, said all on Tour had taken notice of the extreme weather in Queensland.

“It really hits home when you see the damage around Townsville and especially when it’s an area so close to Karrie’s heart,” Lasky said.

“The LPGA family has close ties to Australia and we extend our most sincere sympathies to all affected.”

Meanwhile the 12-month anniversary of the launch of Golf Australia’s Vision 2025 strategy to encourage women and girls to play golf has arrived with Webb saying it was “urgently needed”.

GA is soon to start a national roadshow projecting the program into clubs around the country with its pillars around gender equity in the game.

Webb said the game needed to be less intimidating to new members of both sexes, recalling a time when she was a young amateur having to unpick the hem on her shorts at a club to meet the guidelines about their length. “Those things need to go out the window,” she said.