Club looks to retirement village

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 10:45 27/11/2012
 Hamilton Golf Club
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
IN THE ROUGH: Issues of public and private ownership have developed around a proposal from St Andrews-based Hamilton Golf Club.

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A 110-year-old golf course is looking beyond green fees as it moves to secure its financial future.

Hamilton Golf Club manager Malcolm Johnson said the club had been forced to look for new ways of making money after losing 100 members - and as a result $100,000 in membership fees - over the past decade.

HGC leases the 43.8 hectare St Andrews Golf Course Reserve from Hamilton City Council and also owns close to a hectare of land adjacent to it.

The clubhouse, a 90-space car park and ancillary buildings are located there, but a proposal to the council's operations and activity performance committee today states the club wants to develop a retirement village on their land.

Mr Johnson said it was too early to say how many units they had in mind.

If it got the go-ahead, buildings to house trundlers, golf carts and maintenance equipment would be moved onto the reserve.

Parking for up to 50 vehicles would also be provided on reserve land because the club's car park numbers would drop to 40.

The new parking area was estimated to cover 600 square metres, while the buildings would cover 300.

Trevor Harris' report on the matter said two major issues arose from the proposal.

First, there was precedent.

If the council gave HGC the green light it could have long-term effects on future decisions where private bodies wanted to utilise public land in order to help development of privately owned land.

Second, the council could cop flak if it backed a new car park as well as a retirement village that may affect nearby residents.

Mr Johnson said the car park was not essential to the plan's success.

The idea was to create a secure, ongoing income stream for the club from retirement village tenants.

Mr Johnson said simply raising membership fees was not the answer.

"Where golf is at the moment, the age of people are either retired or heading there and we're not getting younger blood coming through," he said.

"If you put [fees] up there's a point where they say, ‘I don't have the time and I can't justify the expenditure - I'm not going to join'.

"So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't."

The recommendation to councillors at today's meeting is to ask HCG to carry out consultation with the potentially affected neighbours of the proposed car park and report back.

The council is expected to make a final decision in April 2013.

matt.bowen@waikatotimes.co.nz

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