Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Mebourne, Victoria, Australia is one of the elite golf clubs in the world. With two Alister MacKenzie masterpieces on site, it has been one of the preeminent places in the game since it opened in 1926. It has hosted the Australian Open 16 times, as well as three Presidents Cups, in 1998, 2011 and 2019.
Particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, it is looked upon as a leading light in golf. So it is not surprising that last week, per The Age newspaper, it broke more ground. On Sept. 7, Royal Melbourne became the first golf club in the world to require all golfers to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play, barring any legitimate medical exceptions.
Australia has had some of the strictest COVID restrictions throughout the pandemic, including the recent surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to the Delta variant of the virus. Most recently, as part of a Delta-related lockdown, golf courses across the country had been shuttered since late August. But two days after Royal Melbourne's announcement, the government of Melbourne's state of Victoria lifted restrictions to the point where golfers were able to once again take to courses last Friday.
Andrew Kirby, the captain of Royal Melbourne Golf Club, cited overwhelming support for the policy among members, staff and other clubs. “We’ve got lots of rules in golf and here’s another one," he said. "If you want to play, you’ll have to be vaccinated. At least one jab, then two and of course there’ll be a system of registration.”
Other golf course news and notes
EARLY FAZIO FOR SALE - The pandemic-prompted golf boom of the last year-plus has meant fewer course closures and transactions than industry monitors would have predicted back in 2019. But some courses are still for sale, including the private Moselem Springs Golf Club between the cities of Reading and Allentown, Penn. Opened in 1964 and designed by George Fazio, the course has a scenic rural setting with Moselem Creek flowing through the property. Asking price: $2.35 million. [LINKS: Reading Eagle | Leisure Properties Group]
NEW OCTOGENARIAN OWNER - At 81, most golfers are long retired. But Lindi Biggi finds herself the new owner of Shadow Mountain Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif. Designed by Gene Sarazen and measuring only 5,400 yards, Shadow Mountain represents the sort of scaled-down golf that has become more popular among avid players of late. In addition to rehabbing the long-neglected course, Biggi also intends to play up the course's 1950s heritage with the mid-century modern aesthetic for which many homes in the area are revered. [LINK: Desert Sun]
ANOTHER MYRTLE BEACH CLOSURE - The hot real estate market has claimed another course for developers in one of the world's biggest golf destinations. Farmstead Golf Links, a Willard Byrd/David Johnston design that opened in 2001 in Calabash, N.C., will shutter at the end of October to make way for both single- and multi-family dwellings. The course, made famous by its par-6 finishing hole crossing the border between South Carolina and North Carolina, has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from our community of golfers. A shame. [LINK: The Sun News]
BRING YOUR PUTTER - Look out, PopStroke - there's another competitor in the putting-oriented golfertainment space. This time, it's Puttery, a Drive Shack-backed concept whose first venue just opened in the Dallas suburb of The Colony, Texas. [LINK: Dallas Innovates]
GOLF-ADJACENT (LITERALLY) - The golf real estate scene is booming in ways not seen since before the Great Recession. High-end communities like Discovery Land's Silo Ridge Field Club in New York and Kiawah Island in South Carolina are reporting eye-popping sales figures. Even the roll-out at Cabot Saint Lucia has exceeded expectations. [LINK: Bloomberg]