Golf Australia will spearhead a fundraising campaign for golf clubs devastated by record-breaking North Queensland floods with the backing of legendary Karrie Webb.
Chief executive Stephen Pitt announced during the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide that an online donation campaign would be led by Golf Australia. He said public donations larger than $2 would be tax deductible and that GA would also offer support through government advocacy.
“It’s taken a huge toll on those communities,” Pitt said. “From a golfing perspective, it’s devastated a number of 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 fundraising campaign to help all those clubs affected and to do some government advocacy to try to get some additional support.
“There are clubs that remain under water. There are clubs that have had greens washed away. It’s gut-wrenching, particularly because they are really important facilities within communities. We’d like to lead a charge and band together to help those clubs and get them back on their feet.”
More than 1,050mm of rain fell on Townsville in the week to February 4 with Upper Bluewater, west of the city, recording 2,068mm in eight days.
Webb, who lives in Townsville when in Australia, said the floods had been devastating to many of her friends.
“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.”
Golf Australia’s clubs and facilities support program is supporting 21 clubs throughout the affected areas, with disaster recovery advice and help to secure funding through the Queensland Government’s Disaster Recovery Program.
Fundraising events will be held in Queensland to benefit all affected by the floods. In the interim, donations to affected clubs can be made via https://asf.org.au/projects/golf-australia.