GAME-CHANGING $6.4 million upgrades aimed at transforming Ric...

By Charmayne Allison

GAME-CHANGING $6.4 million upgrades aimed at transforming Rich River Golf Club into the number one stay and play golfing destination on the Murray have just been unveiled.

The master plan includes a mini golf course, a golf simulator, two new greens, updated bunkering, new holes, enhanced water hazards and a new irrigation system.

Part of a 10-year plan, stage one and two have been approved and will be completed in four years respectively, while an optional third stage is also on the cards.

Chief executive Shane Gloury said he hoped the updates would take the course — which in some sections has not had major upgrades for 40 years — well into the 21st century.

‘‘Overall, we want to provide better golfing facilities and entertainment facilities for members and guests, so we can see more golfers and visitors come up to Rich River,’’ he said.

‘‘And by coming here, they will also be supporting the Echuca-Moama region and the community.’’

Stage one of the plan is costed at $5 million and will include the construction of a sleek new mini golf course, due to be completed by the end of 2019.

‘‘This high-quality facility will mean whether you’re three or 83, you can come out to Rich River and have fun,’’ Mr Gloury said.

Two new greens will also be introduced in 2019, one to be constructed on the 12th West hole and the other converting the 16th West, currently a par 5 into two holes — a par 4 15th hole and a new par 3 on the current 16th green.

This will create a 37th hole which can be used in rotation while other holes are shut for works.

A major bunkering update is also in the plan, with the current 120 bunkers to be reduced to 80.

‘‘Over time technology in golf has changed and the balls now travel further,’’ Mr Gloury said.

‘‘When the courses were built 30 or 40 years ago, they were built for that era. We need to update the bunkering to be more relevant to today’s play.’’

New tees and renovations to existing tees, as well as strategic updates to each hole are also in the blueprints.

While some water hazards will be enhanced.

Stage one will also include the addition of an X-Golf golf simulator to the club.

But the key catalyst for the renovations will be hidden beneath.

The club is seizing the opportunity to upgrade its irrigation systems, which are currently 10 years past their 30-year upgrade due-date.

The east course will be completed in the winter of 2020, followed by the west course in 2021, with works scheduled to cause minimal disruption.

‘‘This means we can use the water more efficiently and accurately so bare patches between holes will green up and the overall quality of the conditioning of the golf courses will rise — plus we’ll save water,’’ Mr Gloury said.

Stage two of the upgrades ($1.4 million over four years) will be a ‘‘logical succession’’, polishing off works started in stage one.

This could be followed by stage three, which contains three optional components not yet approved by the board.

These are a new facility for club workers, three new greens (for the 1st and 2nd west holes and 5th east hole) and — the feature generating the most interest — a flood-lit driving range where the 10th and 12th west holes currently sit.

Mr Gloury said the master plan had been in the works for about eight months.

‘‘We looked at our golf course assets and thought, how can we enhance them and bring more visitors out to Rich River?’’ he said.

‘‘Because if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards.’’