CALL it the engine room of golf in New South Wales.

Not just because Moore Park Golf sits 2 kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, but because some fresh minds in the offices of its historic clubhouse are determined to drive the sport into the future.

From eradicating slow play and dependency on membership to finding alternative streams of revenue, this inner-city golfing empire is tackling the issues of today while preparing for the obstacles of tomorrow.

Moore Park Golf

Ironically, Moore Park Golf’s surrounds have contributed heavily to the tapestry of Australian sport. But being a par 5 away from the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground – where Donald Bradman chalked up Test centuries and Bob McCarthy inspired South Sydney to grand final ‘glory, glory’ – won’t help the course to create a legacy of its own. Adding to that challenge are the views of City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who recently declared she would consider subsidising the cost of reducing the size of Moore Park Golf’s course, which forms part of Sydney’s historic Centennial Parklands.

“Across the world, golf courses are slimming down to a modern nine-hole format. I’m open to working with the state to investigate options for reducing the size of the golf course at Moore Park and returning some of that land to the community,” Cr Moore said, adding that more than 60,000 people are planned to be moving into apartments in the neighbouring area.

While it’s not clear where Cr Moore got her “downsizing-to-nine-hole” figures from, what is evident is it was a suggestion that angered much of the Harbour City golfing fraternity, not least those inside the gates of the busiest golf facility in the state.

“Moore Park Golf is one of the most accessible courses for the Public and the local community, ensuring golf remains an experience available for our kids and future generations,” says Moore Park Golf general manager Erich Weber. “We’re not just a part of, but crucial to Centennial Parklands. The revenue raised from Moore Park Golf represents around 26 per cent of the total budget of the self-funded parklands so it has an important role to play in the sustainability of the surrounding areas.”

Already littered with cyclists, joggers and those who enjoy relaxing walks, Moore Park Golf works harmoniously with the local community while providing a memorable 18-hole golf experience.

For Cr Moore, the message from Moore Park Golf enthusiasts is simple: keep Australia’s busiest golf precinct thriving.

More than 59,000 rounds are played at Moore Park annually.
More than 59,000 rounds are played at Moore Park annually.

From Scottish beginnings…

Not many may know it but Moore Park Golf was the birthplace of public golf in New South Wales. Like the sport itself, the golf course has Scottish roots buried deep in its tree-lined fairways. Founded in 1913 by two young Scottish immigrants, brothers Duncan and Charlie McMillan, Moore Park Golf was designed by the legendary Carnegie Clark and has enjoyed close ties with some of the great names of the game including Dan Soulter and Eric Apperly.

Today, Moore Park Golf positions itself as the Home of Public Golf, responsible for ensuring it promotes a healthy, positive, accessible experience for golf and entertainment seekers within a rapidly growing community.

“We’re one of the most popular entertainment facilities in the city because we cater for everyone, not just serious golfers,” says assistant manager, Stephen Peverett. “We’re also one of Australia’s only all-inclusive disability friendly golf courses. Putting such an emphasis on providing accessibility upgrades across the course has led to a 4 per cent year-on-year increase in participation – something we’re extremely proud of.”

Moore Park Golf

Maintaining turf excellence

Moore Park Golf’s surrounds were always going to be a natural foundation for a golf course. Sharp changes in elevation are punctuated by towering trees and gardens, making a round here an enjoyable walk through pristine parkland and a much-needed escape from the daily grind of the city, something you’re reminded of on almost every shot via some truly spectacular skyscraper vistas.

But the putting surfaces are the unsung heroes at Moore Park Golf. While the green complexes look relatively flat from afar, after striking your first putt you will quickly learn the subtle breaks that will wreak havoc over 18 holes. “Our expert course staff have worked long and hard on the greens and they are in superb shape, particularly given the amount of traffic we manage,” says Weber.

Moore Park Golf

The man behind the curtain is head superintendent Mal Durkin [above left], who’s spent the past 28 years covering the tracks of 59,000 rounds a year on his home course. “I’ve seen a fair bit of change in my time, but what we’re working on now is taking Moore Park Golf to a level it has never been,” says Durkin. “Among a host of upgrades to bunkering and turf, we’re improving the overall aesthetics of the course by introducing new pathways and garden beds.”

Durkin’s right-hand man, Cameron Butt [above right], admits while the challenge of maintaining the high standards of such a populated course can be testing – including the dawn starts – he wouldn’t have it any other way. “The location of Moore Park Golf, in the middle of a big city like Sydney, makes the facility a very unique working environment,” says Butt. “I remember working a Sunday morning when I first started here; it was summer time and very early. I was thinking how peaceful it was then I heard the horn of a big cruise liner. It was then that I realised, Wow, I’m working in the middle of this great city and the harbour is only a stone’s throw away. That is why I love working at Moore Park Golf; it is very different to anywhere I have worked before.”   

Moore Park Golf

Driving more people to the game

While the Mayor may have nine holes on her mind, Weber and his team have a vision to expand beyond the current 18. “We have plans to build something pretty exciting on the Anzac Parade side of the property that will include a short-form golf facility, a new practice green and a state-of-the-art short-game facility,” he says.  “As it stands, golfers can’t go anywhere in Sydney to work on their short-game without having a membership to a club. We want to solve that problem. With continued upgrades to the driving range and golf course, along with the short-form golf proposal, we’re providing the community with even more avenues of social entertainment.”

Moore Park Golf’s driving range is iconic. But the daily demand Sydney golfers place on its three-tiered, 60-bay complex has led the club to extend its opening hours to midnight, three days per week.

“Our driving range boasts the world’s first 22m2 ‘Big Screen’, aimed at making the driving range a more entertaining and engaging experience,” says Weber.

Increased investment also ensures the regular reinforcement of premium Srixon practice balls, while the Golf Shop and Patio Café are always well stocked to cater for groups.

“We’re committed to making Moore Park Golf a desired destination, not just for golfers but for the community,” says Weber. “If we can help grow the game of golf and provide attractive entertainment opportunities for the general public, our job is done.”

Moore Park Golf

Moore Park’s Quick Fix for Slow Play

In a bid to combat snail-paced play, Moore Park has introduced alternative signage around the course. “We want to remind people of their place within the field in a light-hearted way,” says Weber. “Golf has enough rules and restrictions so we don’t want to add to that. We want to communicate how much we want people here but stress the importance of not dawdling to ensure maximum enjoyment for everyone.”

Moore Park Golf