Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff is eyeing the Remuera Golf Course as a possible site for thousands of new houses.
He wants the sale of the Auckland Council-owned land to be discussed, and he doesn't care that the Prime Minister plays there.
"That fact that John Key is an honorary member doesn't exclude the golf course [sale] from scrutiny. If you are looking at assets which return almost nothing to the ratepayer, this is one," Mr Goff said.
"The public doesn't have access to it. We're under pressure to sell assets from central Government so we have to start looking at this. It's certainly an option we have to start looking at."
However, he also acknowledged that the club has a lease for many decades and he said that issue would need to be resolved.
Mr Goff said the sale of the council's airport, port and Watercare assets was something he strongly opposed.
"My view is you must retain ownership of strategic assets. On the Remuera Golf Course sale, you can't say, 'It's not on the agenda, it's not an option'," he said.
The course could be worth $516 million, he said, although that was yet to be determined.
Mr Goff noted that the Manukau Golf Course in South Auckland had been sold to a Fletcher Building business and said that if the Remuera club were owned by its members, there was little doubt they themselves would consider selling the land.
His comments follow an Auckland Council review of recreational facilities and particularly its ownership of 13 golf courses, as pressure builds to find space for thousands of new homes in the Super City.
Developers say the land could be used for up to 8000 houses and apartments if the entire 200ha-plus area was made available, easing the city's chronic shortfall of about 30,000 homes, the Herald reported last year.
Officials say the review, which includes popular courses such as Remuera, Takapuna and Pupuke in Campbells Bay, is not specifically aimed at freeing up land for housing - it could also be used for parks and other recreation.
However, the exercise comes as the council is urgently looking for new sources of revenue and space to build houses within existing city limits. Several golf courses, such as Waiheke and Waitemata in Devonport, occupy real estate worth millions but pay only peppercorn rents as little as $1 a year.