Former staff members at a prestigious Auckland golf course say they are owed tens of thousands of dollars after getting laid off on the spot.
The director and owner of the Gulf Harbour Country Club on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula have gone to ground, giving no indication when or if they will pay up.
It comes as some club members make the most of the thousands they paid in membership fees, continuing to use the course despite its sudden closure.
Ryan Taylor spent 15 years of his life meticulously tending to the golf course, keeping it in the pristine condition that put it on the world stage and earned it the hosting rights for the New Zealand PGA Championship early in 2023.
But in July, the superintendent suddenly found himself without a job and struggling to pay his mortgage.
“It’s been a shitshow,” he said.
“No due process, no nothing. It’s certainly been illegal, the way it’s gone down.”
Ryan said he was owed about $25,000, with no pay for his final days of work, no notice period, and a lot of annual leave backed up.
And he said what he was owed was just the tip of the iceberg.
“[It’s] hundreds of thousands, definitely.
“There are a few divisions in the club: The pro shop, office staff, bar staff, greenskeepers. It all adds up.”
Club director Wayne Bailey told staff about the closure on July 20, just hours before the message went out to club members.
He followed up with an email the next day:
“This email is to confirm the verbal advice to you yesterday that the golf club operation ceased yesterday with immediate effect and that your employment with GHCC (2016) Limited ceases immediately as well.
“Unfortunately, the club continues to lose money and despite extensive efforts to find a way to turn this around there is no realistic prospect of this changing.
“We have begun an orderly winding down of the operations.”
Bailey said he would be in touch about final pay the following week.
But what followed was radio silence.
Developer Greg Olliver took over the course in the middle of 2021, but just a few months later, he was banned from running any company for four years.
Bailey took over the directorship of many of Olliver’s companies.
However, Gulf Harbour staff members said Olliver was still behind the scenes.
Former director of golf Frazer Bond claimed the club spent large sums of money spent on machinery that was only used once.
He said Olliver had continued to have a presence at the club after its closure.
“At the moment, he’s holding [about] $130,000 worth of wages and he’s just allowed to walk around and mow grass like it’s his playground outside. It’s absolutely appalling.”
For staff members like Matt left in the lurch by the club’s closure, getting what was owed might be the only thing that brought them closure.
“This has dragged on, and it’s going to keep on dragging on until we get the money.