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Golf club boss takes affiliation fee fight to Golf Australia

HIGH profile owner of The Dunes Golf Links, Duncan Andrews, has launched a stinging attack on golf’s national governing body, Golf Australia (GA).

“As part of the golf system in Australia, The Dunes pays to Golf Australia a hefty annual fee and a further annual fee to Golf Peninsula Victoria (GPV),” Andrews railed in The Dunes’ latest newsletter to members. 

“PGV is part of GA. It is a bit hard to avoid these fees because Golf Australia controls the handicapping system.  

“In aggregate, the fee paid to Golf Australia and its affiliates by The Dunes Golf Club will be between $55,000 and $60,000 in 2023. The amount will vary depending on the number of members. 

“Members might well ask what do they receive for this?  However, before we try to answer this very reasonable question, we would also point out that:

“The fee is charged for each member at every club where they are a member. Many golfers have two memberships, some have three memberships, and Golf Australia hits them every time. Quite outrageous really.

“Golf Australia and company like to claim they promote women’s and junior golf. Maybe they do, but it is hardly fair or reasonable that courses like The Dunes heavily discount junior membership to encourage juniors ($175 per annum) and GA takes over 40 per cent of this amount in affiliation fees. This fee might be supporting the GA bureaucrats but it is not supporting junior development.”

Andrews continued off the long run.

“What makes it more insulting is that you, as a member of a club, pay this fee but if you were a regular golfer, but not a member, (and there are plenty of these) you then pay nothing! 

“That’s right, zip! How is this reasonable?”

Andrews said that “the bottom line is that the golf system in Australia has reached its use-by-date and is in desperate need of an overhaul”.

“The bottom line is that the golf system in Australia has reached its use-by-date and is in desperate need of an overhaul.”

Andrews asked members: ‘So what do you, as members of a golf club, receive for these fees we pay on your behalf to Golf Australia? 

“Handicapping, the Rules of Golf and insurance. They (also) look after the Australian Open and coordinate other golf tournaments. Otherwise, precious little.  

“I invite you to look at their (Golf Australia’s) website. Full of words and well meaning, but do we at The Dunes receive adequate value or does Royal Sydney, allegedly paying around $500,000 per annum with its huge membership, or Royal Melbourne, think they get their monies worth? 

“I can say with some confidence that they don’t.  

“Down at their new recently built taxpayer funded headquarters at Sandringham Golf Club there seems a multitude of people all staring at computer screens.  

“The first instinctive reaction from everyone I have spoken to is, ‘what the hell do they all do?’ 

“Given what we see from Golf Australia at The Dunes, the answer is not much, or at least not enough.

Golf Australia and Golf Peninsula Victoria seem very comfortable that they can spend our money better than we can. Does this remind you of some people in Canberra?

“Both organisations need to be reminded that their role is to service golfers and clubs – not the other way round.”

Meanwhile, Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland responded by saying: “Golf Australia’s primary responsibility is to protect and grow the game in this country, delivering on the direction set in the Australian Golf Strategy 2022-2025 which was developed through an unprecedented industry-wide collaboration. 

“In a highly competitive sport and entertainment industry, our sport continues to evolve. 

“The digital age creates its own challenges and opportunities, and whilst we appreciate there will be different views on the work we do, we will continue to do everything we can to support our membership and ensure golf’s sustainable future as a sport for all in modern day Australian society.”  

FOOTNOTE: Golf Australia boss James Sutherland has more to say on this matter. To view his column go to

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