Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Club may swing land deal to chip in cash aid

One of Auckland's oldest and nearest golf clubs to the CBD is considering selling its 4th hole to get out of the financial rough as membership subscriptions dwindle.

Members of Maungakiekie Golf Club in Mt Roskill South will meet today to decide whether to sell 3ha of potential commercial land across the road from the Lynfield Mall.

The proposal is to sell for no less than $7.5 million to a party selected by the club's board of directors.

Sale proceeds are to repay debt and fund future operations and improvements.

However, the move is opposed by some of the 600 members - especially younger and big-hitting players, who are opposed to replacing the 4th hole, which is 382m long, with a 160m par 3.

Club general manager Ewen Groves said the private club owns the course, which gives views to the Waitakere Ranges and the Manukau Harbour Heads.

The club is one of many among Auckland's 23 courses to have suffered a decline in membership and amount of golf played on the course.

Members are the main source of funding and Maungakiekie subscriptions are at the lower end of Auckland clubs at $1640 for full playing male members.

The public can play for green fees of $30 weekdays and $35 at the weekend.

"The trend is for younger golfers to play green fees rather than join the club and it's been difficult to pick up new members without discounting," said Mr Groves.

"It's been said there are too many golf courses in Auckland and that may be true at present, but if Auckland continues to grow that may not be the case.

"But the problem is the financial situation of clubs, with most showing negative cashflows, having to borrow to fund operating deficits and deferring maintenance and upgrading of facilities.

"I think golf courses are important facilities as green space for communities now and in the future, indefinitely."

The course has 20 holes within its 41ha of open space, bounded by Hillsborough and Richardson Rds. Fitting in a new 4th hole that is pleasing to the golfer's eye has been a challenge for professional Kiwi golfer Stuart Reese and Canadian architect Grant Puddicombe.

About $400,000 of work is proposed on the par 3 hole.

This includes removal of trees, earthworks to shape fairways, greens and bunkers, and for grassing, tree-planting and cart paths.

At the club last week, the Herald sought the view of professional Phillis Meti, who was the 2006 Re/Max Long Drive World Champion, hitting 298m.

"I may miss the hole, but I believe the shortening can be made up with the course changing in a few ways which will not only enhance it but give players something different," she said.

"I played a lot of junior golf here and this club has a lot of potential."

Another Mt Roskill course even closer to the CBD is owned by Akarana Golf Club.

Akarana club general manager Travers Gawler said its pitch as a high-quality city course and the introduction of age-related membership fees had allowed it to grow in the last year to 830 members.

In December, more than 80 per cent of members of Manukau Golf Club voted to allow Fletcher Residential to buy their 47ha course opposite Conifer Grove in Takanini and build them a new one at Ardmore in a $40 million deal.

The club plays where it is until 2016, when Fletcher plans to build 450 houses.

In 2009, members of the Peninsula Golf Club, in Orewa, voted to accept developer PLD Ltd's offer for its 45ha in return for building a Puddicombe-designed course and family-oriented club facilities in Wainui, plus $10 million cash.

Planning approval was granted last month for the building of more than 500 houses on the course.

Maungakiekie Golf Club

1909: Maungakiekie Golf Club formed and plays slopes of One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie) Domain and later on leased Cornwall Park Trust land.
1930: Splits into Maungakiekie and Titirangi clubs.
1942: Park trust board forces club to vacate despite a petition.
1943: Club buys a site for a course - scrub land at rural Mt Roskill. Financed by selling the Richardson Rd frontage to Housing Corp.
1946: Course designed by Charles Allison, of England, opens after working bees lay the greens.
1965: Club subdivides and sells sections in Anita Ave area to raise funds for a clubhouse.

- NZ Herald

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