(In case you missed it and are so inclined you can sign, donate and/or share it here https://www.change.org/p/darebin-city-council-save-the-northcote-public-golf-course?signed=true )

During last year’s lockdown when golf wasn’t allowed in Victoria, Northcote’s course operators agreed with Darebin City Council to open the land to nearby residents for use under the strict regulations.

(It should be noted this agreement came in the interests of safety after holes were cut in the course boundary fence allowing people to gain access.)

Once the restrictions were lifted, however, several in the local community began to campaign for the course to be closed permanently and the land used as a park.

"Irrespective which side of the argument you fall, on Northcote could be an intriguing blueprint for how public golf might look in the future." - Rod Morri.

The ensuing and ongoing debate is an interesting case study for the game and its place in suburbia in coming decades.

There are, of course, extremes on both sides. Those who want the course closed rely on the usual straw man arguments about land being ‘locked up for the few’ and needing to be ‘reverted to public space’.

Similarly, there are those in the golf community who will accept nothing less than the space being dedicated solely to golf.

But irrespective which side of the argument you fall, on Northcote could be an intriguing blueprint for how public golf might look in the future.

Leaving aside those on both sides who argue in bad faith, there is an opportunity at this suburban nine hole layout to perhaps achieve something quite special.

Public golf is not, should not and does not need to be an either/or proposition.

In a landscape of increasing urban pressure for the space required by courses, the game needs to grasp every opportunity to explore workable compromises that will allow it to continue to exist.

Northcote might just be one of those opportunities.

As noted above there are those on both sides for whom compromise is not an option but hopefully there is a far bigger middle ground prepared to work through the issues.

It won’t be easy and, as is the nature of compromise, nobody will get everything they want.

For those of us in the ‘golf has a place in the community’ camp, now is the time to have our voices heard not only outside the game but also within.

Golf deserves to be a part of the public recreation mix but it is not an inalienable right. It is up to those of us in the game to make the case to those who don’t get it.

And that is true of those who play golf as well as those who don’t.