ICC looking at options for vacant course

    The land at Sandy Point previously used as the Oreti Sands golf course is now vacant following the closure of the Southland Golf Club. Photo: Supplied

    THE Invercargill City Council will continue to maintain the soon-to-be-vacant 60 hectares of land previously used as the Oreti Sands golf course at Sandy Point with the hope another use can be found for it.

    The Southland Golf Club closed the gates to its Oreti Sands course on March 31 after members took to the fairways for one final hit.

    Falling membership and a lack of revenue prompted club officials to make the difficult decision to close the club and its course.

    Since 2000, the club’s membership had dropped from 400 to under 100.

    The decision came just nine years after community funders the Invercargill Licensing Trust and Community Trust of Southland stumped up $250,000 each to make improvements to the links course.

    The objective was to attract visitors from throughout the world to play on the unique course, which is similar to the popular Scottish links courses.

    Those benefits did not happen despite a leading golfing publication ranking it as the 13th best course in New Zealand.

    With the Southland Golf Club’s lease on the land ending, the Invercargill City Council (ICC) is looking at possible alternative uses for the now-vacant recreation reserve.

    ICC parks and reserves manager Robin Pagan said they had received “about eight or 10” expressions of interests from organisations which may like to lease the land.

    Mr Pagan is not yet divulging just what all those expressions of interest entail.

    However, he said among them were overseas groups which would still like to look at the golf tourism potential.

    Mr Pagan expected the ICC was still “some months away” from making any decisions around the future use of the land.

    The objective was for it to continue to be used for recreation purposes and used by as many people as possible.

    In the meantime, the ICC will continue to mow the fairways to ensure the land did not return to its natural state.

    The ICC and Southland Golf Club remain in negotiations around the buildings on the land.

    Mr Pagan said those buildings may be of use for a new party which leased the land.

    Meanwhile, the current Southland Golf Club memberships have been transferred to the Invercargill Golf Club at Otatara.

    The last Southland Golf Club club championships were held on March 24 and the following day the club held a “last hurrah” day, which attracted about 70 people.

    President Michael Horn said the day did have a touch of sadness to it and included a lot of reminiscing.

    Club members were provided one final chance to have a hit at the course on Saturday, March 31.

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