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Reducing Highfield golf course could cost Timaru District Council $53,000

POSTED ON April 30, 2019 @ 11:49 am
A proposal to reduce Highfield golf course from 18 holes to nine holes is on the table. (File)
JOHN BISSET
A proposal to reduce Highfield golf course from 18 holes to nine holes is on the table. (File)

Halving the size of the Highfield golf course’s 18-hole layout could cost the Timaru District Council $53,000.

The spend is not in council’s current budget and would be for maintaining land that the Timaru Town and Country Club (TTCC) wants to stop leasing and maintaining about 14 months before its lease on the area expires in June 2020.

The course is set to become part of a “golfing hub” for the region and under that proposal it will become a nine-hole course, linking with the 18 hole course at the Timaru Golf Club.

A steering group including the Highfield Golf Club, Timaru Golf Club, Golf New Zealand, and the district council’s parks and recreation department, are working on that proposal.

However, the TTCC has asked to reduce the size of its lease-holding by relinquishing the top area of the course.

A report prepared by the council’s parks and recreation manager Bill Steans for Tuesday’s council meeting says that “a rough order of costs” for council maintaining the land “not included in a nine-hole course” would be about $53,000 per year. This would include grass mowing, vegetation control, shrubbery and tree maintenance, and other tasks.

Steans noted that the council did not initially anticipate the maintenance of an additional 16 hectares of land within the current financial year, and the maintenance cost would have to come out of rates should the TTCC be allowed to reduce the size of its lease-holding earlier.

The Steans report said, however, that the “move to a nine-hole course at Highfield is not only desirable but perhaps inevitable as new approaches are used to make the game more attractive to new golfers and to control costs by golf administrators.

“The opportunity to free up the land for other uses such as stormwater management will provide greater benefits to the community.”

Steans said accepting the request to reduce the size land leased “effective immediately” would in effect “only bring forward by 14 months changes already proposed”.

Highfield Golf Club merged with the TTCC in 2012 and general manager Vince Gardner told Stuff on Monday that with golf courses struggling across the region, the club was hoping to find a way to make Highfield more viable.

“Essentially, we are asking the council to cut our course in half,” Gardner said.

“It will be cheaper to maintain.”

Gardner said it had approached the district council, and was waiting to hear back.

Sport Canterbury’s South Canterbury regional manager Shaun Campbell said he was “encouraged” by the early talks

“It’s something that was raised in our spaces and places survey. There is an oversupply of golf courses, but the key to this project is that it’s collaborative,” Campbell said.

“It is good that there is a conversation taking place. We don’t know what the final solution will look like but we’re very supportive of the idea.”

Stuff

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