Australian Golf’s new home is officially open, bringing to life a project that was more than 10 years in the making.
The Australian Golf Centre in Sandringham, new headquarters for both Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia, was officially opened today by the Premier of Victoria, the Honourable Daniel Andrews, in what amounts to a landmark moment in the history of the sport in this country.
Andrews was joined by key figures in the Australian golf industry at the opening, including seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb, OAM, with the unveiling a plaque commemorating the opening and also announcing the latest recipients of the Victorian Government’s Golf Scholarship Program which encourages people to pursue careers in the golf industry.
The $18.8 million Australian Golf Centre at Sandy Golf Links includes a state-of-the-art high- performance facility, cafe and administration facilities for both the key bodies, as well as Sandringham Golf Links golf course and driving range which is operated by Royal Melbourne.
The moving of both sets of staff into the centre is viewed as a groundbreaking moment for a sport that is seeking to align and cooperate like never before.
The Victorian Government has been the major supporter of the project, which included a redevelopment of the Sandy Links golf course as well as the new Australian Golf Centre, contributing $15.3 million of the total cost.
“We have reimagined Sandy as one of the greatest public access golf facilities anywhere in our state and indeed in our nation,” Andrews said.
“We have delivered a first-class outcome, all of these teaching facilities, practice facilities, elite competition, but also so many young people – perhaps under the watchful eye of a grandparent or parent or school programs – are going to fall in love with this magical game right here because of what’s been built here.”
Project principal and Golf Victoria Chair Stephen Spargo said he was extremely proud to see a long-time vision for Golf Victoria come to life.
“This is the vision that Golf Victoria has had for a long time to bring golf together in one place and we are immensely grateful to the Victorian Government, all of the Victorian clubs and their members for the support they have shown for this very important venture.”
PGA of Australia Chair Rodger Davis said the move was bold and a significant moment in time for the industry and our sport.
“The PGA of Australia has a 111 year history in this country and particularly in this state as the pioneers of professional golf domestically and globally.
“Our facility in Sandhurst Club is world class, but this was an important opportunity for the PGA of Australia to work closer than ever before with Golf Australia for the betterment of our sport and membership.”
Golf Australia Chair Andrew Newbold explained what the project means for the inaugural National Strategy for Australian Golf which was developed by the game’s bodies and came into effect this year.
“The Australian Golf Centre is the living embodiment of our vision for the game in Australia.
“The collaboration between Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia here allows us to work together to tell our story better and attract new fans to the game, while the various offerings of this public facility provide an example of how we can attract new golfers and grow our core.”
Royal Melbourne Golf Club Captain and Sandringham Golf Links Management Director Andrew Kirby said that Royal Melbourne’s partnership with Sandy was a model for other clubs to follow.
“I’m very passionate about the public courses because they very strongly push juniors and women into the game. A lot of the community can play here where it’s a bit more casual and get a start.”
Staff of Golf Australia, previously headquartered in South Melbourne, and the PGA, which had its national head office at Sandhurst on the outer south-eastern fringe of Melbourne, moved into the new facility together late last year.
The Australian Golf Centre was first mooted in 2010, with the Victorian Government contributing $10 million towards the cost in 2014, and numerous sites considered until Bayside City Council in 2018 issued a planning permit for the new facility. Works began in May, 2019 and the project was completed in September last year.