Club merger hits snag

By Jared Smith

The amalgamation of the three country golf clubs in the Marton/Rangitikei area appears off the cards for the foreseeable future.

However, with concerns over declining memberships and long term financial stability unlikely to dissipate, the combined nine-person group which formulated the proposal will still meet up to "dwell" on the future.

Hawkestone club members were expected to vote on the three-way proposal tomorrow.

However, club captain Grant Forbes said this was now "defunct" because the Rangitikei members already voted to decline it at their AGM last week.

As the potential home course of the merged clubs, the Marton club membership had voted to support the proposal on November 3, but only on the proviso both Rangitikei and Hawkestone came along.

Rangitikei president Noel Crocker said only a three-club merger had been considered and there was no secondary concept for two clubs combining.

"That's part of the equation [for our 'no' vote].

"There was two or three, maybe four different factors in it that didn't settle with people."

Rangitikei will have a meeting next week to "progamme their future", which they will hope to address publicly, Crocker said.

A long-time former committee member who made the "spontaneous" decision to go back for the president's role, even though "I knew the situation we were in," Crocker said the combined proposal group will continue to discuss all the club's futures.

"You never know, other circumstances may arise."

Forbes said Hawkestone may still yet organise a vote because not giving members a say "creates ire".

"Rangitikei's more or less said they're out of it, we now have to decide if we pursue a vote, if only to clear the air. We can't say our members are for or against it because they haven't voted."

He knew Rangitikei really needed to consider something, while also receiving emails from golf clubs in places, such as Rotorua, who were struggling as well.

It was a tough time of year for Hawkestone to have any kind of vote right now because the club had already held its closing day and prizegiving, Forbes said.

However, if a future vote showed their members do want amalgamation, they may go back to the drawing board with Marton for a new proposal.

Last week Marton president Laurie Hunt said he had instructed his club members not to comment until all three club's decisions are finalised.

"We think that is fair otherwise we will be compromising our position. After that it's open for, you could say, 'discussion'."

He was asked how strong Marton's position is if merger was left aside. "We're fine, like most golf clubs in the whole district we lose a few, gain a few."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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