Work has begun to turn Hawkes Bay Golf Club into a viable entity and to counter declining membership that all clubs are grappling with in the country.
Club president Mike Maguire said last night the club had sold 11.6ha of the 56.4ha course property in a bid to repay about $500,000 debt, believed to be a mortgage dating back to late last century.
“The challenge for any golf club is financial sustainability and, as a club, we’ve been carrying a substantial mortgage for quite some time,” he said.
A member at the club since 2001, Maguire’s research revealed the debt dated back almost three decades from the time he started there.
“We managed to stabilise our debt but for a small club, or even a larger one, to service a debt like that takes a lot of your funds and you’re not reinvesting in the game to enable your course to develop properly.”
He said the club was managing “to hold our head above water”. In the past four years, bar one year, it posted a modest surplus.
The club has a sale of purchase agreement, which has passed “its traditional stage” and should be done and dusted come January.
Gourmet Blueberries Ltd, a neighbouring business, has bought the 11.6ha property.
Everything adhering to the script, the course redesign and redevelopment will be completed by June next year.
Grant Puddicombe, based in Auckland but whose course designing and building services offshore to Canada, the United States and Japan, is the architect behind the revamped course.
The men’s par-73 course measures 6103m (club) and 6436m (championship), and the women’s par-74 one is 5417m. They will become shorter after the restructuring.
“It’ll still be 18 holes but we’ll be building four new ones but the course will be modified quite a bit.”