THE unpredictability of the trajectory of a small round ball after being hit by a flat surface has been highlighted by the need for a safety net on one of the Mornington Peninsula’s prestige golf courses.
The owners of the two-course Moonah Links in Fingal say insurance companies have demanded a 13 metre high net be installed on the sixth hole of the championship Legends Course to protect a house in The Ridge Road from errant golf balls.
The decision to allow the net could have been made under delegation by Mornington Peninsula Shire officers but Cr David Gill “called it in” so it could be considered by councillors at their Tuesday 22 August public meeting.
Shire planner Vivian Xu recommended that council give the go ahead to the safety net, stating in a report that the colour and materials of the net had been “thoughtfully considered to complement the natural landscape”.
The decision to allow the net was made with seven councillors in favour and four against.
Cr Sarah Race said people buying properties on golf courses would “not be surprised” to see a safety net.
“It’s like buying near a landfill and not expecting to smell it – it’s ridiculous,” she said.
Cr Anthony Marsh drew analogies to people living near highways and beaches and hearing traffic or wind.
Marsh said he would vote in favour of the net, but “disliked” the proposal not been advertised and thought it “odd” that the objection had been withdrawn by the owner of the house next to the net.
Xu said the net was 6.75 metres from the nearest property and needed to be “substantially higher than the height of the dwelling due to the topography of the tee boxes and trajectory height of golf ball flight”.
In the meantime, the risk of ball “strike” had seen the layout of the sixth “temporarily altered”, with the tee being moved further down the fairway.
Gill told The News that he wanted councillors to debate the installation of the net after being contacted by a property owner “who said ‘they’re trying to put a net around my house’”.
However, the owner later withdrew his objection “probably because they’ve reached a confidential agreement”.
“The whole thing is a mystery,” Gill said.
“I consider what has been adopted by council to be a heartless solution – wrapping a huge net around a family’s home, metres from their boundary for expediency, when there were alternatives available to the multinational-owned [Moonah Links] corporation.
Gill said a majority of councillors had agreed with Xu’s report “that there were no detrimental amenity impacts and that this huge 12 metre high by 24 metre long net ‘contributes to the preservation of the area’s natural beauty’”.
Gill told the meeting that if approved, the net at Moonah Links would be only one alongside the hundreds of houses on golf courses on the peninsula.
“The insurance company didn’t say it wanted a net, just protection for properties and people,” he said.
Cr Simon Brooks said the net would set a precedent and “anyone who buys [on a golf course] would be aware of the risks”.
Cr Susan Bissinger failed to have a clause added to the net permit designed to protect birds from being trapped and killed.
A net with small holes under tension would be the safest.
Gill said the net would be a death trap for wildlife, with sugar gliders and bats among the victims as well as birds.