In 2015 one of Sydney’s most popular clubs, Strathfield Golf Club, took the leap and decided to unlock the value of the golf course land to sell off for residential purposes, in order to stay financially viable. Now the progressive club is close to completing the venture that has been hailed a ‘game changer’ for the golf industry.
A few years back Strathfield, like many other clubs in the area (Sydney’s inner western suburbs), faced continuous financial hardships due to an aging membership population along with increasing operational costs. According to General Manager Neil Hardy, the club was ultimately left with the alternative to either amalgamate with another affluent club, or to sell off a chunk of the club’s most valuable asset – the golf course land.
With club members voting down a possible merger at a general meeting in 2014, Strathfield subsequently went through the monumental task of rezoning the course land in order to sell. In the initial stages the Board only intended to trade off the practice Fairway, at a value of $13m, but was later advised to rezone the clubhouse area as well and relocate to the other side of the site.
Going to tender in early 2015, the prime site appeared a desirable entity for residential developers, receiving close to 200 enquiries, according to Colliers International broker Guillaume Volz. Brisbane-based residential developer Metro property Development made the final bid, reportedly forking out approximately $52.5 million on the 20,200sqm site.
The development group’s multi-million dollar project intended for 50 luxury townhouses and 178 apartments designed by architects Marchese + Partners to be built over the upcoming few years.
General Manager Hardy said that the commercial trade would bring in well-needed economical means to the club with the Metro bid significantly surpassing the dwelling site’s initial estimated value of approximately $34 million. “Hopefully we can have our new clubhouse built within the next couple of years and still have some $30 million left over for investments,” he said at the time of sale in 2015.
“The sale of the land will secure the club’s financial future and will put us in a better economic position than many other clubs are experiencing today,”
“It’s a great feeling of satisfaction for both the club and our members to have seen this deal through and to have been able to stay alive and still trade during the years of negotiations.”
Fast-forward some three years and the club is now only a short while away from seeing the monumental project completed, with the 1000sqm practice putting green being built in front of the new clubhouse with a practice chipping green next to it. The area should be turfed and the greens seeded in the next couple of weeks
Metro developers have now also completed over half of the residence townhouses on the old practice Fairway, and nine townhouses were settled in February with new owners able to commence moving in.
The golf course’s $6 million major overhaul, which would have been an impossible feat without the land sale, was designed by internationally acclaimed course architect Jim Wilcher from Golf by Design, and will have the course play as a championship quality 5,900 meter Par 70.
“It’s been a wonderful project to be involved in, and has allowed us to showcase the local home grown talent in terms of design and construction. The Flemmings have turned my vision into something very special,” Wilcher commented on the project.
“Not often do you get to make such a strong mark on an existing golf course, the new Strathfield Golf Club will be unrecognisable from the old.”
The transformation provides an enjoyable and challenging experience for golfers of all abilities, with the Cook’s River made into a prominent feature, meandering its way through the centre of the course.
Wilcher ensured the new course would turn out superior to the old one with a better range of holes, better use of the Cook’s River, and better turf surfaces all round.
“I think Strathfield Golf Club will have something for all golfers, good and bad, with an emphasis on fun rather than a need for the modern power game,” he said.
“Now Sydney’s most centrally located golf course will be on every Sydney golfer’s ‘must play’ list.”
The entire project was initially listed as a 65-week build but was held back a few weeks due to severe weather conditions with heavy rainfalls last year.
Designed by architect firm Altis (Altus) the new clubhouse is now quickly taking shape and is starting to resemble the artist impressions of how it will look once finished, with panoramic views overlooking the course.
Upon completion, the club’s new facilities will include new locker and change rooms, multiple meeting rooms, a business centre, function rooms accommodating 300+ guests and a fleet of 60 new electric carts, positioning the club as a first-class facility for golf and events in the broader Sydney metropolitan area.
General Manager Hardy said he was excited to see the project completed.
“We’ll end up with a brilliant new clubhouse and a great new golf course,” he said. It (the construction) hasn’t affected the playability of the course. We still have 18 holes.”
“With the proceeds of the sale, we have been able to build a new clubhouse, which will allow the club to compete in the market for functions as well as golf.”
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