GREEN DREAM: Maroochy River Golf Club president Geoff Davies is over the moon with the recently opened course.
GREEN DREAM: Maroochy River Golf Club president Geoff Davies is over the moon with the recently opened course. Warren Lynam

New home, new outlook heals rifts for golf club

SUNSHINE Coast Council can only hope its CBD development meets the same sort of instant success enjoyed by the former Horton Park Golf Club it has replaced.

While council struggles with the complexities of a project meant to transform central Maroochydore into the region's business heart, the club has changed its name, moved across the river and re-imagined former cane land as a $45 million Graham Marsh-designed golfing oasis.

A constantly full carpark, visible from the Maroochy River bridge, bears testimony to the demand awoken by Maroochy River Golf Club's links-style course and clubroom dining facilities that enjoy a spectacular northerly outlook with Mount Coolum as its centrepiece.

In the first nine days of operation following its May 30 opening, club head professional Sean Seymore estimates the course has hosted more than 2000 rounds.

The membership roll is full at 1234 and the club already has 800 plus social members.

Curiosity explains part of the interest. Horton Park has always been a workers' members-based club but was tucked away from view.

Maroochy River is clearly visible from the bridge and the David Low Way, between Pacific Paradise and Bli Bli.

A 10km catchment takes in the rapidly and ever-expanding Parklakes development at Bli Bli, the rapidly growing north shore communities of Twin Waters, Mudjimba, Marcoola and Mt Coolum and the club's old Maroochydore stamping grounds.

Caterer Darryn Fitzpatrick says the dining room is already serving up to 150 diners each lunch time and similar numbers at night.

"We didn't expect this response,'' he said.

"We buy our supplies locally for the butchery, cakes and pastries and we are employing people from the local community.''

Maintaining employment of the club's 30 long-term workers was one of the key motivating factors that drove president Geoff Davies' desire to build a new course rather than buy either Twin Waters or Pelican Waters golf clubs in what was an at times bitter internal debate about Horton Park's future.

"There were 30 jobs on the line and I couldn't have that'' he said.

"Even during the crisis period, I can't recall us losing a staff member.''

Mr Davies said the decision reconnected members in a common purpose.

"The club went from a big fight to amazing camaraderie once the decision was made."

Since then it's been a case of knuckling down to the enormity of shifting base from its home of 60 plus years to what is now a magnificent course with ample fairway room despite strategically-placed water hazards and fairway bunkers.

"I've personally spoken with 250 members and asked their opinions of the new course,'' Mr Davies said.

"Only one thought it was too hard. The rest just love it.''

The club has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Ramsay Health to promote junior golf.

Professional Di Pavich and the ladies' committee also have a Girls In Golf program as a pathway into the game for women.

"Maroochy River aims to be the most progressive club in Australia,'' Mr Davies said.

"We've got great sponsorship support for our junior golf program, and are open to innovative ideas.

"Regardless of the trend of declining golf club memberships, ours is one of the few courses with a waiting list for membership.''

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