Golf membership numbers on the rise in Hunter

ON COURSE: Shane Atkins hits a drive during the A-GRade pennants clash between Charlestown and Newcastle. Picture: max Mason-Hubers
ON COURSE: Shane Atkins hits a drive during the A-GRade pennants clash between Charlestown and Newcastle. Picture: max Mason-Hubers

COVID-19 may have wiped out the majority of winter sports, but one pastime is experiencing unprecedented growth.

Golf club membership had risen by 6.5 per cent across the state and a high number of Hunter clubs, including Muswellbrook, have expanded numbers beyond the state figure.

Maitland Easts Leisure Club leads the way with a 21.4 per cent increase. Finding a tee time will be paramaount as membership has risen to 1330, up from 1103.

"The first positive signs appeared in the middle quarter of 2020 coinciding with the first COVID lockdown,'' Golf NSW CEO Stuart Fraser said. "With many other avenues for sport shuttered during the pandemic, the ability to keep the game open, to have members continue to play while maintaining correct social distancing was critical.

"Twelve months on, and we can see from the affiliation numbers rolling in from across the state, last year's initial small growth is now turning into something substantial. The surge in membership is comprehensive as well. Not only are we seeing former golfers return to the sport, but we are also seeing women, juniors, and millennials join in increasing numbers."

The majority of Hunter clubs have recorded a rise. The Vintage leads the increase at 26 percent and now have 321 members. Muswellbrook (18 per cent), Merewether (9.47), Belmont (6.48) and Nelson Bay (1) have also experienced rises in patronage. A number of clubs are yet to register.

Teven Golf Club in the Byron Shire had the sharpest rise with a membership of 386, a jump of 159 per cent.