And as liquidation of the 93-year-old Coalfields facility becomes likely for the club, which has been languishing under the weight of about $13 million debt, its patron and president are hoping an investor will come to an 11th hour rescue.
The club’s most recent president Robert Hodge said Monday’s closure was “devastating” for the community and would leave a big hole in an area where there were few public golf courses – most being privately run.
Mr Hodge, who has been a member for 37 years, is a former professional golfer and lives a stone’s throw from the clubhouse, said the course had been a place where many world class golfers had competed as juniors.
“We just desperately need an investor to take over the club,” he said.
“I’m still reeling from it all. It hasn’t hit me yet.”
The club’s board signed up for a partnership with Daracon for a $30 million redevelopment about a decade ago, which included a residential subdivision, a new clubhouse and an 18-hole course designed by golf legend Jack Newton.
The completed redevelopment was known as Stonebridge.
Administrator Simon Thorn from PKF Australia said on Monday the decision to close the club was not based on one particular thing.
He cited a collapsed amalgamation negotiation, an unresolved Environment Protection Authority clean-up notice and the fact that the club “financially, has not been trading well” as reasons behind the move.
Mr Thorn has organised a meeting for creditors in the coming weeks, in which he plans to recommend the club be liquidated.
“We’ve been there over 12 months and explored every opportunity to keep it open and keep it in members’ hands, but unfortunately I think we’ve exhausted those opportunities,” he told the Newcastle Herald.
Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon, who is the Cessnock Golf Club patron, said he particularly felt for green keeper Merv Hayward who he labelled “first class” and said had “gone beyond the call of duty” even as the club was under administration.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the club had a rich history but, like many public golf courses, it had been struggling for some time.
“It’s a tragedy for the local community, in particular the golfing fraternity, and even at this late hour we still live in hope that a white knight might come along and save the 93-year-old and iconic facility,” he said.
The creditors’ meeting is scheduled to be held in Newcastle at 9.30am on Monday, May 13.
“Golf Club has ceased trading as of today Monday 29th April 2019. To all the many volunteers that worked tirelessly to keep the club afloat. To all the die hard members who supported the club week in and week out. To all the staff who worked so many different positions to keep the club afloat. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. This is not only a sad day for all our members but a sad day for the Cessnock Community,” read the club’s facebook page on April 29.
Source: The Herald