Orange golf clubs in crisis as wet weather wipes out revenue and play

Duntryleague Golf Club.

Duntryleague Golf Club.

Record rains have devastated Orange’s three golf clubs, wiping out millions of dollars in revenue and forcing the cancellation of the city’s biggest tournament for the first time in 21 years.

Officials estimate the city of Orange has lost up to $4 million in flow-on revenue through golfers not booking accommodation, meals and entertainment in town, income losses due to cuts in casual staff hours and clubs stopping capital works that would have used local labour.

All three clubs have managed only a handful of playing days in recent months since the big deluge hit.

Duntryleague Golf Club President John Cook was this week given the task of trying to find financial assistance on behalf of his club, Wentworth Golf Club and the Orange Ex-Services’ Country Club.

“We haven’t had a full competition for the past five months. It’s pretty devastating for a golf club.”

He said the three golf clubs had taken a huge financial hit.

“It’s getting close to $1 million for the golf clubs and several more millions that the town has missed out on.

“Golf puts $15 million into the local community every year. I would say that the cost to the community is between $3 million to $4 million.”

Mr Cook said he would be approaching Golf NSW, Federal MP Andrew Gee and other avenues to seek help from the crisis – but he can’t do much about the rain.

“We’ve had 800mm in the last five months. That’s the wettest that this period has ever been. So it’s a very unusual thing.”

Duntryleague was forced to introduce a $200 levy on its 602 voting members last month to try to cover costs and keep the club open. Mr Cook said most members had agree to pay it.

Ex-Services’ Club chief operating officer and Golf Orange chairperson Guy Chapman said a serious casualty of the rain had been this week’s cancellation of the City of Orange Golf Championship due to have been played across the three clubs on the October long weekend.

“It’s the first time, it has been going for 21 years now, that we’ve had to cancel it.”

The event brings about 150 visitors to Orange from Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong annually.

He said they hoped the golfers would still come to play social golf and sample Orange’s many other tourism options over the long weekend.

Mr Chapman said the Country Club revenue was down 50 per cent from July-September compared to the same period last year due to the lack of golfers playing.

and buying meals and drinks in the clubhouse.

“Over the last five months we’ve had days totally closed or with restricted access. I’ve never known this number of Saturdays wiped out by the weather. It’s been devastating regarding patrons of the golf club.”

The rain has wiped out play on 13 of the past 16 Saturday competition days at Wentworth Golf Club, the ladies Wednesday competition has managed just two games in 13 weeks and there has only been play on three of the past 16 weeks for the Thursday competition.

General manager Ian Starr said the club had lost about $100,000 revenue while $15,000 damage had been caused to the course.

Mr Starr has put a submission to Golf NSW for financial aid – which he likened to flood relief.

“I’ve never seen it this wet. I was here back in the 1980s. This is just horrendous.”

And he said if the financial situation did not improve in the next six months the club would be in serious strife.

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