DESPITE rumour and speculation to the contrary, newly-created Peninsula Kingswood Golf Club in Melbourne’s east says it has no immediate plans to involve neighbouring Long Island Country Club as part of a further merger, but indicates that adding a third course may be in the cards in the next ten years.
Kingswood’s General Manager Heath Wilson says the prospect of forming a 54-hole ‘superclub’ with Long Island has not been discussed, but concedes that several clubs are angling to become part of Peninsula Kingswood – a club that secured its future in September when the members of both Peninsula and Kingswood voted to merge.
“Several clubs have contacted us,” Wilson says. “But it’s hard enough merging two clubs at the moment, let alone three.”
For the immediate future the merged club will primarily be attending to the task at hand, according to Gary Richardson, General Manager of Peninsula Country Golf Club.
“Our current focus is delivering the vision the founding members voted for,” Richardson says.
But with further consolidation and closures of golf clubs predicted in the future, many believe a third course is a logical and beneficial addition to Peninsula Kingswood in the next decade.
“We definitely will be looking to add to our offers to members in the coming years,” Wilson admits.
Several Melbourne golf clubs are looking to stem membership decline with cheaper fees and reduced waiting lists.
Keysborough and Rossdale – both closer to Peninsula Kingswood’s Frankston site than Kingswood – have investigated the possibility of merging with each other and shape up as potential candidates to join Peninsula Kingswood.
Woodlands Golf Club – after a failed bid earlier this year to raise its membership fees in search of extra club funds – also looms as a possible addition to Peninsula Kingswood.
“It depends how bad the golfing landscape is in five or 10 years,” Wilson says.
“If it’s what everyone’s predicting, there might be a lot of courses struggling for members or sustainability, especially down Peninsula’s way,” Wilson says.
Meanwhile, Peninsula Kingswood has earmarked plans to stage either the Australian Open or Australian Masters within 10 years.
“We know it’s going to take a little bit of time to spend some money on the courses and the clubhouse but we really hope within 10 years that we’ll be hosting either the Masters or the Open,” Wilson says.
The budget for course works at the club’s 36- hole Frankston site is set to increase by almost 30 per cent in 2014 – growing from close to $1.9 million to around $2.5 million.
Wilson says extra spending will ready the Frankston courses for a major professional event.
“The two courses at Peninsula, they’ve just been so under-budgeted for so many years, they haven’t been able to do things. That’s going to bring the course on in leaps and bounds in the next five to 10 years.”
“We’re slowly going to start looking at a master plan of the course and what holes need some work. The water projects can start straight away. We’re spending about $3.8 million on a new water project.”
Peninsula Kingswood completed one of the final steps in its merger on October 29 with members voting overwhelmingly in favour of the club’s new name and constitution.
More than 93 per cent of Kingswood’s members voted for the new club to be named Peninsula Kingswood Golf Club.
Members have been enjoying playing privileges at both the sites for several months and it’s anticipated Peninsula Kingswood’s new board will become active this month.
“A lot of people who were against the merge have come to the acceptance that it’s happening. People have just moved on and they’re just enjoying their golf, playing three courses.”
Wilson says unrest among a very small portion of members at Kingswood still remains.
“A lot of the Dingley residents are kicking their heels up at the moment but a lot of them aren’t members. I totally understand residents and people who live around the course, why they didn’t want it to happen.”