Club vote a blow to integration

A vote at the Rangitikei Golf Club on Saturday might be enough to scuttle merger plans of the three clubs in southern Rangitikei to join as one.

At one of the Bulls club's best attended annual meetings, members decided to battle on even though Rangitikei is struggling financially.

The vote count was not disclosed but was wide enough to be decisive.

The merger working group had made its presentation to club members the previous weekend, pointing out the pros and cons of Rangitikei going in with Marton and Hawkestone at the Marton Golf Club's Santoft course.

Marton members had previously signified unanimously they were in favour while Hawkestone members won't make their decision for another week.

The Manawatu Standard understands there are staunch players at both Rangitikei and Hawkestone who are reluctant to see their courses closed, despite their shaky long-term viability. It appears they are keener to shape their own destiny.

Rangitikei chairman Pat McCarthy presided over Saturday's meeting at Bulls and then stood down from the position after a fraught term in which the club's survival was debated under his watch.

Long-serving administrator Noel Crocker has been club president at least three times previously and while he hadn't been aware McCarthy was standing down, Crocker accepted a nomination from the floor to take over as president.

Most of the club's playing membership attended Saturday's meeting, more than turned up to hear the working group make its presentation.

"Their heart is very much in the place - and that's understandable," Crocker said.

Now Rangitikei's long-term survival is in the lap of the gods.

"We'll be struggling and that's what has brought this all about. We will have to try and battle on," Crocker said.

"It depends what happens down the line, if the worst comes to the worst."

Crocker said the doors were not shut on a merger sometime in the future, just ajar, unless there is a marked turnaround in membership.

For now the club has one greenkeeper and up to five volunteers prepared to step up and keep the course in reasonable condition.

Rumours had been circulating from the wider region that Rangitikei and Hawkestone were to close, but they were unfounded. It has proved to be a highly sensitive issue among members of both clubs.

The merger working party made their presentation to Hawkestone members on Saturday under independent chairman Martin Townend.

"Naturally I have a disappointment," he said after hearing the news from Rangitikei.

"The whole thing was to set up a new club. We had people from every club on the amalgamation committee who were unanimous in our presentation."

It was a three-way proposal but that is now changed with one club dropping off. It does open the door for Hawkestone to discuss things with Marton independently.

Manawatu Standard