A meeting in Auckland tomorrow seeking feedback on countering the death of golf clubs in the country has come too late for a public club in Hawke's Bay.
Flemington Golf Club in Central Hawke's Bay shut shop on Sunday as the New Zealand Golf board consults its "key stakeholders to understand their views" on a 68-page independent report some were emailed for their perusal.
NZ Golf, with the support of Sport New Zealand, commissioned the Peter Dale Management Services Report, which highlights the problems facing private golf clubs and sets out a strategy for financial survival.
Former NZ Golf chairman Philip Hassall sent the independent report to myriad clubs last December as part of an ongoing 18-month process with its district associations.
"Through these processes, it has become clear that while some areas of our administration provide capable service and have varying degrees of financial security, other areas are financially unsustainable and have limited capability," says Hassall in the accompanying letter to the report before he stepped down for Paul Fyfe to assume the mantle of chairman.
He recognises golf has declining membership at almost all levels and that clubs are struggling financially.
The country has more than 400 clubs, with Golf Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay Women in charge of 27 of them following the demise of Flemington.
Twenty-one of those are from Hawke's Bay.
Golf HB chief executive Neil Munro, who is attending the meeting after the annual meeting today, said the 32-member club closed down because of lack of money.
"The members also had to prepare their own course, too," said Munro, who is happy to comment on the effects of the Dale Report on the Bay after he returns from the meeting.
"My understanding is that most of Flemington's members will join other nearby clubs," he said, after Flemington club secretary Grant Wilson could not be reached for comment last night.
The Bay offers golf courses at many levels from public ones (Golflands at Mangateretere and Awatoto, a subsidiary of Maraenui); to the major city ones such as Hastings Golf Club, Maraenui, Napier Golf Club and Hawke's Bay Golf Club also at Bridge Pa; and the exclusive Cape Kidnappers Golf Course which predominantly lures overseas tourists.
Cape Kidnappers, which Wall St tycoon Julian Robertson owns with Kauri Cliffs, north of Auckland, offers resort facilities and has been rated in the top 10 in the world in some international golfing magazines.
It is believed only Maraenui, Awatoto and Golflands are on the right side of the financial ledger of the non-resort clubs in the Bay, posting a "net surplus $133,000 for the three months to December 31 last year against a budget of $101,000", although the overall picture is dependent on what each club's financial year is.
It lends some credence to the Dale Report recommendation that "there's a misalignment between membership and casual play" and the need for NZ Golf to "develop a growth strategy around the recreational golfer".
The Napier club, in trying to arrest declining membership in accordance with a national trend, is also looking at whether it needs another general manager after former Silver Fern Tanya Dearns left in December to start working for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic netball franchise.
Napier club president Pat Cater, who is in charge, said last night that was not to say they were not going to appoint Dearns' successor.
"You have to cut your cloth to suit your purse," Cater said, adding the club, like others, needed to invest its money wisely and consider a position that suits its needs.
Cater felt the four main clubs in Napier/Hastings were vital to tourism in the region and steeped in history with, for example, Napier club's inception as far back as 1896.
He agreed with the Dale Report that the proximity of clubs in the region meant they were "over shopped".
"There's parochialism so it's sort of up there with the proposed amalgamation of Napier City and Hastings District councils," Cater said.
Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle said New Zealand was simply too small a country to have two governing bodies - the NZPGA (covering the professional game) and NZ Golf (for amateurs).
"We're a bit old-fashioned in our ways so the sooner we come under one umbrella the better it'll be," said Doyle, a former national representative amateur coach.
He felt the closure of the Flemington club was imminent because there were too many clubs here.
Some stalwarts feel that Central Hawke's Bay clubs such as Norsewood, Ongaonga, Takapau, Porangahau, need to amalgamate into an 18-hole one between Waipukurau and Dannevirke clubs.
"Sometimes it takes only 20 minutes to drive between one club to another," one said.