An 84-year-old Gisborne golf course could be a casualty under a proposed region-wide revamp of sports facilities in Tairawhiti.
An “outdoor and field sports hub” which proposes 12 floodlit fields, an artificial turf, grandstand and athletics track has been mooted for the site where Gisborne Park Golf Club sits.
Planners have acknowledged the disruption this could pose to the golf club and have thrown up two potential solutions: cut the course in half or reorientate it over neighbouring airport land.
Gisborne Park Golf Club president Tony Leggett said they wanted to retain the 18 holes and didn’t want to see the course changed.
“The club doesn’t object to the principle of the sports hub but would like for the course to remain unchanged and in its present location layout and continue as an 18-hole provincial grade public golf course offering friendly and affordable golf for all of Tairawhiti.”
Mr Leggett said the club had 130 members and the course was popular with non-member “green-fee” players.
On “Friendly Friday” 40 or 50 people might come along. At the twilight round on Thursdays, another 60 might play, most of whom came from other clubs, he said.
Re-orientating the course wouldn’t be easy, he said.
“You would have to redo the whole course. Although a good idea, it would be difficult to implement, costly and would alter the essence of the course.”
$150 million revamp
This comes as Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti, Trust Tairawhiti and Gisborne District Council team up to ask central Government for $150 million to “reinvigorate” Tairawhiti’s sport and recreation facilities.
The 200-page business case was presented to Gisborne district councillors at a Sustainable Tairawhiti meeting on Thursday. They voted in favour of progressing the funding request on to central Government.
The case proposes the creation of four sports “hubs” which would provide shared facilities for several sports clubs and codes.
It recommends an indoor and court hub on Childers Rd Reserve, an outdoor and field hub at Gisborne Golf Park, a river sports hub at Anzac Park and Marina Reserve, and an East Coast regional hub at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria.
Feasibility studies and “proper” project planning methodology are yet to be undertaken for the hub locations.
Become 9-hole course
Consultant Kent Duston, who presented the business case to councillors last week, said if the current plan was to go ahead it would effectively “carve off a section of Gisborne Park Golf Club”.
“That’s quite disruptive to the club so we’ve looked at what the possibilities and mitigations are for that.”
One option was for it to become a nine-hole course.
“Our advice from Golf New Zealand is that is where the increasing participation in golf is coming from — it is actually the short game, because people are time-constrained,” Mr Duston said.
“But there are many players at Gisborne Park who do play 18 holes,” he said.
The second mitigation option was to expand the golf course, to reorientate it, and put an additional nine holes out on to the adjacent airport land.
This was currently grazing land, and traditionally airports were happy to have golf courses on their boundaries, he said.
“The challenge of course is that creating nine holes of a golf course has a price tag of about $3.5 million to $4.5 million.”
Cr Andy Cranston said the business case gave an “umbrella view” and the purpose was to get it in front of central government to secure funding.
“It’s not to deal with specifics of locations, it’s not to deal with sizes or style of the building,” Cr Cranston said.
He acknowledged “a little bit of nervousness” around the golf club.
The business case will be presented to the Tairawhiti Funders Forum this month to establish local funding capability.
Following this, local MP Kiri Allan and relevant government agencies will be briefed in January, before the business case is submitted to central government.