New Golf Australia boss James Sutherland has wasted little time getting on the front foot in his new role, questioning the City of Sydney’s plans to downsize Moore Park Golf Course so it can make way for more community greenspace.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore wants to cut one of the world’s busiest public golf courses from 18 holes to nine to meet a growing need for open space for residents, arguing the land was intended for public use. Speculation on social media overnight suggested council had already voted in favour of the plans, and will now push ahead with the controversial move via a community consultation process.

Speaking exclusively with Australian Golf Digest, former Cricket Australia chief Sutherland said Golf Australia will work closely with Golf NSW in a bid to find a positive resolution for the thriving layout in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“Golf Australia is extremely disappointed in the outcome of the Sydney City Council vote on the future of Moore Park Golf Course,” says Sutherland.

Moore Park Golf Course is one of the jewels in the crown of Australian golf. It has been an entry point to the game and an asset to golfers and the Sydney community for generations.

Golf Australia will work closely with Golf New South Wales and the New South Wales Government during the upcoming community consultation phase. Golf contributes $527 million of economic benefit to the Sydney Metropolitan Area each year and is a major driver of physical and mental health outcomes to the community, of critical importance in these extraordinary times.”

Sutherland also noted that the Moore Park Master Plan released in 2017 called for the retention of an 18-hole golf course through to 2040.

According to the SMH report, the two options for reconfiguring part of the course retained the driving range, clubhouse, and maintenance depot and, in the words of Lord Mayor Moore, require “only minimal reconfiguration of the fairway and greens”.

Adding further fuel to the fire, Moore suggested that participation in golf was dropping and golfers were “well-catered for”, with 12 courses – six accessible to the general public – located within 12 kilometres of Moore Park. But Sutherland refuted those claims, revealing golf has enjoyed a mini-resurgence during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks largely to it being classified as an essential form of exercise.


“Moore Park is host to more than 59,000 rounds annually, ranking it among the busiest courses in the world,” says Sutherland. “It is also clear that golf’s popularity has boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with membership and rounds played increasing significantly across the country.”

Many in golf have also been quick to point out that there was no shortage of greenspace at the adjacent 189-hectare Centennial Park. But that all matters little to the Lord Mayor, who remains largely unimpressed by the club’s visitor intake.

“Today, 31 million people visit Centennial Parklands while just 60,000 rounds of golf are played on the Moore Park Golf Course each year,” says Lord Mayor Moore.

It’s understood council will now spend $50,000 on its community consultation plan for the proposal. Local golfers will be hoping for a similar result to Melbourne’s iconic Albert Park Golf Courrse, which was spared in 2018 after a spirited community rally at the eleventh hour.