ALL SMILES: Pic 1: Merbein Golf Club secretary, Melinda Binding, and Golf Australia’s Dean Dixon following the funding announcement for a new clubhouse at the venue.
Pic 2: The course is in the best shape it has been for years ahead of this weekend’s Merbein Open.
Pic 3: An aerial photo showing the improvement of the course since January.
Photos: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

THE volunteer-run Merbein Golf Club has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, and that trend looks set to continue.

Ahead of the 36-hole Merbein Open this weekend, it was announced that $200,000 has been allocated to assist the construction of a new clubhouse for the Cabarita course.

Crippling drought almost caused the Merbein Golf Club, established in 1926, to fold.

A combination of an army of dedicated volunteers, a commitment offering alternate golfing programs, and grants to help improve the state of the course has helped its revival.

The funding has been made available through Golf Australia’s Pitch In Program, in which they work with the Victorian Government to support the infrastructure needs of regional golf courses.

Not only does the club provide another sporting venue in Sunraysia, it is also home to the Cabarita Australia Post office. It is also hoped the new club house will become a community hub and function centre for the growing area.

Merbein Golf Club secretary, Melinda Binding, who announced the funding this week alongside Golf Australia’s Dean Dixon, said it was exciting to have secured funding to finally upgrade the ageing club house. Starting dates, however, are yet to be finalised.

“Last year we applied for the Pick My Project funding, and we designed a concept of a new clubhouse we would like,” she said.

“The current one has been around for a long time and nothing has changed. To fix the building would cost too much.

“The area in Cabarita is growing, and we need to be able to grow with it.

“While we weren’t successful in the Pick My Project application, Golf Australia took notice and it all stemmed from there.

“We’re realistic, we need to put together a clubhouse that is going to suit our members and their demographic.

“We’re a relaxed and family-friendly club, and our aim to become that community hub. We don’t need anything too extravagant.”

Dean said Golf Australia wants to help regional golf clubs where possible, and they were impressed with the work being put in by Melinda and her fellow volunteers.

“It’s also about understanding that gold clubs aren’t just about the golf course. It’s also about providing the facilities that could be put to use within the community and potentially create greater revenue streams,” he said.

Recent irrigation grants through the Mildura Rural City Council have also ensured the golf course at Merbein is in the best shape in years. Aerial photos prove just how significant the improvement has been since January this year.

Melinda said alternative golfing programs, many of which have been supported by Golf Australia, have been important in growing the club to its current tally of 110 members, as has keeping membership fees low.

“The committee has been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes, and we have a strong volunteer base that do a mountain of work,” she said.

The Merbein Golf Club’s course is in top shape for the 2019 Merbein Open this weekend.

Places in the Mens, Ladies, Juniors and Senior divisions are still on offer for the Open. To enter, visit Drummond Golf at Fifteenth Street, Mildura, or call on 5021 0802 to book in a tee-off time. Entry is $30.

Merbein Golf Club is located at 355 McEdward Street, Cabarita.

For more information visit the Merbein Golf Club Facebook page, email royal.merbein@gmail.com or contact Melinda on 0447 790 949.