The history of Seabrook Golf Club, (established in the 1920’s) provides both a context and legacy. In the 1940’s to 1970’s the club attracted a membership from the business people of Burnie. This legacy underpins the club’s relationship with neighbouring courses and golfers. The club benefited from corporate support via large industries and was able to maintain a membership of between 200 and 300, employ up to 4 Green Keepers, a Secretary manager and a Golf Professional (including a young David Graham). The membership in 2005 was 340.
From this peak membership has dropped to around 120 current numbers, a decline of approximately 66%. The number of women members at Seabrook GC is 12 and there are 3 junior numbers. With membership central to the health of the club, the challenge to increase membership is central to Strategic Pillar 1: To have more people playing, more often.
From 2009 on-ward the club’s solvency relied upon money borrowed from members. In 2014, membership initiated the sale of land -the Top Nine Holes. The resulting revenue provided funds to clear all debt, capital to renew course equipment and initiate course and club house developments in line with Strategic Pillar 2: “To be the best conditioned 9 hole golf course in Tasmania”, and Strategic Pillar 3: “Playing golf at our club should be a pleasurable and good fun”.
Although the sale of land was necessary a historical perspective provides important context to the decision.
1. The land for the bottom 9 was purchased in the 1960’s in response to the State Government serving notice of a compulsory land acquisition of holes 17 and 18. (A potential widening of the Bass Highway). Compensation money was expected. The Club purchased the land and developed what is known as the Bottom Nine. The government reneged on the land purchase.
2. Drainage issues on the bottom nine were addressed with a sophisticated network of surface and pipe drainage. Water was drained into existing water courses to the West and East of the property and into the Seabrook Creek- a permanent water course that flows through the property. Scheduled maintenance on this drainage system slowed and by the late 1970’s ceased.
3. In 1972, the State Government, in haste to spend allocated roads money constructed the Wynyard bypass. From this time on-ward the road construction altered the traditional drainage patterns created by Seabrook Creek. The road surface provided additional run off areas that needed to be drained.
4. In the mid 1980’s the courses drainage network and patterns were again disrupted when “Tas Rail” upgraded a small rail bridge, 800m to the West of the course. This bridge was rebuilt on a 400mm concrete plinth. This acts as a dam on Wilkinson’s “creek”, a seasonal; water course that drains local properties and the Western side of the course.
5. Local land owners have lobbied various governments to resolve drainage in the East Wynyard/Seabrook areas. Anecdotal comment suggests extensive reports have been completed providing solutions to this issue.
6. In the mid 2000’s potential developers of farm land adjacent to the golf course (Eastern Boundary) commissioned a hydrological survey of the Seabrook Creek catchment and surrounds. This included a detailed contour map of the golf course, soil composition testing and rate of flow calculations. A golf architect was employed to provided concept ideas on developing a residential estate surrounding the current golf course. The architect described the land as ideal for course development, the provision of water through Seabrook Creek provides a significant financial advantage for any future course development.
a. Seabrook creek drainage is limited by the size of the culvert at the bridge that crosses the Old Bass Highway.
b. It’s quite possible to mitigate a one in 10 year flood but a 1 in 100 year event will inundate the Seabrook flood plain.
c. The lowest part of the course is 2.0m above sea level (in front of the 2 nd tee) Land that is below 3.2m will be saturated in winter months. The highest point (around the second green) is 6.0m above sea level.
d. The contour map clearly identifies a relatively few low points on the course ie those below 3.2m. Each of these issues affects the playability of the course over a 12 month period.