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Golf club tees up its future

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2012

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Months of uncertainty have ended for Pakuranga Golf Club which will continue to operate for another five to 10 years at least following the sale of 2ha of its land.

Elim Christian Centre has bought the land to develop into sportsfields.

Golf club general manager Des Topp says the transaction is a win-win situation for both parties and the wider community.

Mr Topp says keeping golf clubs going is becoming increasingly difficult and globally memberships are dropping.

The Pakuranga club was not immune to this and had built up a significant debt.

He says the club started thinking about how to improve its financial situation about a year ago.

"This time last year we started having a discussion with the Whitford Park Golf Club and we were talking about rationalising and merging.

"The idea was to put the 40.5ha here up for sale and we would use the money to build an additional nine-hole course at Whitford."

He says Fletcher Building – developers of Stonefields in Mt Wellington – was very keen on the land.

"But the feeling among our members was very negative."

The plan changed to instead sell a 2ha block that is currently used as a practice area.

Elim caught wind of the availability of the land in November and made an offer.

Three developers also put in offers with plans for housing and a retirement village.

Elim's offer won out in the end and the sale and purchase agreement was completed last week.

"It enables us to pay off our debts and invest in the future," Mr Topp says.

"We get to retain access for a minimum of five years and we're looking to develop a close association with the junior and senior colleges to develop golfers."

He says the club still faced challenges in bringing in more members.

Elim business development manager Bill Kathagen says work is not likely to start for probably another eight years.

He says acquiring the land "was a godsend for us really".

"We're expanding the school, going up to 850 in the secondary senior school and we just need more area for the kids to play on," Mr Kathagen says.

"There are no other options around here in terms of us owning a field."

He was also excited about building a strong link with the golf club.

The school intends to get a junior programme running for children as young as five.

The association with a golf club would also be a useful marketing tool.

"We get a fair few international students from Korea and there is a massive interest in golf there," Mr Kathagen says.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross says the sale of the land to a school rather than developers will be welcome news to many in the community.

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- Eastern Courier

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