Green fairways for golfers

Minister for Racing Paul Toole, Jeff Osmond, Steph Cooke and Noel Crichton, with Golf Club members celebrating the funding package.

The dry and dusty fairways of the Narrandera Golf Club are set to be a thing of the past with the announcement of a major irrigation infrastructure project.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke joined Minister for Racing Paul Toole on Monday to announce a $661,000 funding package to irrigate the fairways and install solar panels to cut power costs.

Ms Cooke said the project had received $475,000 from the Stronger Country Communities Fund and $186,000 from the Infrastructure Grants program.

“The project will replace an old irrigation system at the golf club with new
pumps, pipes and sprinklers,’’ Ms Cooke said. “The new system will
better control how water is used, ensuring greater efficiency in the maintenance of the grounds. Solar power will also be installed in the clubhouse, cutting operating costs and boosting sustainability.’’

Minister for Racing Paul Toole said the $186,000 grant was funded through the ClubGrants Category 3 Infrastructure Grants program.

“More than $50 million in funding is being provided during this current term of government for projects across sport and recreation, emergency preparedness and arts and culture,’’ Mr Toole said.

These grants are funded by a contribution from the state’s registered clubs to reinvest profits from gaming machines back into community projects. Steph Cooke originally sat down with Narrandera Golf Club committee members 14 months ago to sketch out the project.

“We had big plans and ambitions for this facility in Narrandera and we knew that a big price tag came around with the works needing to be done for irrigation and power,’’ she said. “We put in several unsuccessful applications but that made us double down our efforts.

“The first big win we had was under the Stronger Country Communities Fund at $475,000 for the irrigation and then the icing on the cake was the successful application by (golf club member) Noel Crichton for the next instalment of $186,000 for solar panelling.

“To Jeff and Noel, your committee and volunteers who have taken this club over to revitalise it – you have done an amazing job.’’

Narrandera Golf Club president Jeff Osmond said the club would contribute $27,000 in volunteer man hours, bringing the total project to more than $680,000.

“We will be looking for volunteers along the line and I’m sure they will be forthcoming,’’ Mr Osmond said.

He said the $475,000 grant would enable the old manual irrigation system to be replaced with automatic pop-up sprinklers along the fairways. He said older members had struggled to move the manual sprinklers around the 18 hole course.

“It’s a dust bowl at the moment – we’ve got the water but not the man power. We have been through a drier period than we anticipated with an abnormally dry winter and no growth.

“All the members have stuck by us and are still playing despite the drought – a few have dropped off because they don’t like the dust. We had nearly 40 members play in the monthly medal on a real hot day.’’

The club draws water for the course from the main irrigation channel about 4km away, and can also draw grey water from the Council system for drought-proofing.

Mr Osmond said the $186,000 grant would pay for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the club house and computers to drive the irrigation system.

“It’s a big thing for the club – years ago we were the fourth best club in NSW and we want to bring it back as fast as we can,’’ he said. “The members are excited about this project – I’m excited too as three years ago this club was bust, we were gone and now we are over $220,000 in front.’’

Mr Osmond said the solar panels would be installed on the roof as soon as possible, with electricity savings reinvested into the club.

The irrigation system will be installed from April 1 with trenches dug and pipes laid on the fairways by Toro Australia. Mr Osmond said the installation work would not affect play or competitions.

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