Golf clubs in merger talks

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A renowned Tamahere golf club is in the rough and looking to team up with a neighbouring club, creating a joint 36 hole facility.

The 18 hole, Lochiel Golf Club in Tamahere has been in operation since 1938 but it is believed recent financial hardship has forced the club to considering amalgamating with the neighbouring Narrows Golf Club, reports the Waikato Times.

The club’s annual report shows a total loss of $178,478 over 2009 and 2010 .

Narrows president John Bridle said he couldn’t talk in detail about the proposal or the costs involved, as nothing had been finalised, but confirmed that Lochiel initiated the latest talks on the merger.

“These approaches have been going on for a few years. The first time I was involved in talks about merging the two clubs was four or five years ago. We’ve had three meetings so far exploring the option of merging the two clubs into a 36 hole facility. It would be a facility unlike anything else in the Waikato … but we still need to take the proposals to the members.”

Top female golfer Emily Perry has played at every course in the region and settled at Lochiel six years ago,

“I think (the proposal) is a really good idea, they are both really good courses and it would generate a lot of traffic for both of the courses.”

The two clubs have almost 1000 members and a fortnight ago a memo was sent out to them highlighting the reasons for the proposal.

It stated the aim of the amalgamation was to ensure the long-term survival of the clubs and courses.

This will create a stronger entity that is better able to exist in a competitive market.

Waikato Golf Association chief executive Robin Fulton said golfing membership in the region had fallen 4 per cent in the last year but the merger could help to draw in new players.

“From the outside it looks like a good idea and it could easily become the ideal model for the rest of New Zealand. There already has been a few clubs merge and it’s happened with a lot of other sports.

“There was a lot of amalgamation between rural rugby clubs in the 1950s and that was good for them.”

New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy said the recession had tightened business across all industries.

“I think all clubs are looking at their operations very closely. [They] are looking at their cost structures, their futures and what sort of membership models they are taking into the future.”

Mr Bridle said the representatives from the clubs would be coming together mid-September to start finalising the deal.

“At the next meeting we hope to get a timeframe (for the merger) put in place and start working towards that common goal.”

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