Golf course brings hole lot of community spirit

Stephen 'Bag' Hart in his front yard golf course. (Joe Mastroianni) 233692_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Stephen ’Bags’ Hart, feeling isolated and depressed, transformed the front yard of his run-down Seabrook house into a putt putt golf course.

Now, after nearly a decade of not knowing his neighbours, everyone in his street comes to play on the green.

Because the wharfie is also affectionately known to some as ’Pig’, Mr Hart has called it the Royal Sty Golf Course.

“I was sitting out here, in my depression, going, ’what am I going to do, I gotta do something’,“ he said.

“That’s when I went, ’I know exactly what I’m going do’, and it just came to me because golf has been my passion my whole life.“

His brother, who owns an indoor sports centre in Altona, happened to be throwing out green sports carpet.

So, Mr Hart spent about a month ripping out weeds in the overgrown garden and tried to get the ground flat and even.

“That was proving to be a very, very herculean task, so I thought, ‘right, I need to embrace the bumps’, and I did,“ he said.

“It’s become quite the evil little golf course, which my friends love and hate at the same time.“

It has grown to 18 holes, including a tee-off from the kitchen as part of the long course, and has seating, umbrellas and a BBQ, ice cream trolley and deep fryer for snacks.

But Mr Hart said the best thing about the course was that after living in the street for 10 years and not speaking to anyone, things have changed dramatically.

“In the last 12 months, I think I know everybody by name,“ he said.

“People stop by and say hello, they sit here and they laugh and they look at it.

“As far as the community spirit goes, it’s just been outstanding, to the point where I’m actually looking to hold a little open day for the street, for the neighbours.“