Club in fight for survival

By Jared Smith

Rangitikei Golf Club will not go quietly into the night although the face of its future may have to change.

President Noel Crocker and secretary/publicity officer Bronwyn Meads say the club has some definite plans around creating interest at their 18-hole course outside Bulls, which involve bringing in professional star Craig Perks and hosting non-golfing activities.

The plight of the country club, established in 1923, due to declining membership was sharply in focus during the recent proposal to merge the Marton, Hawkestone, and Rangitikei clubs under one banner.

From a peak of over 400 the membership now numbers 120, including midweek and social players, as Rangitikei was considered most likely to need some action for its future's sake.

Those members declined to accept the proposal, which would have involved making Marton's club the home course, in late November.

"I wouldn't say nobody [supported merger], but there was a high percentage that didn't want the club to disappear," said Crocker.

He stated they still have their head above water and "we are viable and we are going to open for business".

"We need broad thinking," Crocker said.

"We're a very traditionalist golf club, have been for many years.

"The emphasis is going away and younger people have other interests.

"Probably we've got too many people my age and not Bronwyn's age."

Meads said the proposal had only been a "very well presented" idea, which Marton club's Dave Tarrant in particular did a great job putting together. "The proposal is still there, still on the table, to pick up at any stage."

But for now, Rangitikei needed to find new revenue streams and "work smarter" in its office, insurance management and use of volunteers, she said.

Surviving was always the club's priority, with merger about option 'c'.

"We definitely need to look outside the box, other than golf, for survivability."

These could include the distasteful idea of raising subs, but with incentives such as occasional free rounds.

The club was also considering family days like father-son golf tournaments to attract younger members, as well as using their grounds for events like Easter Egg hunts.

The club has been in contact with Perks the PGA tour veteran and 2002 Players Championship winner who has given a commitment to help out however he can.

As a former Palmerston North boy, Perks has played Rangitikei and "he thinks our course is one of the best in the world," said Crocker.

Meads said they are brain storming ideas for an invitational tournament or festival where Perks could attend.


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