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NZ Top clubs in merger talks

Property Here - Sunday, April 28, 2013

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Estate agents eye land bonus as rival golf venues plan a big sell-off.
The Grange course is worth $41.8 million and is in a housing zone. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Grange course is worth $41.8 million and is in a housing zone. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The union of two exclusive golf clubs could open up a large parcel of land to our biggest city's squeezed housing market. The Royal Auckland Golf Club and the neighbouring Grange Golf Club bosses agreed this month to begin talks about a possible merger.

Royal Auckland has occupied a swathe of woodland next to Middlemore Hospital in Otahuhu since the early 1900s, and only a small creek divides its southern boundary from the Grange.

Both 18-hole courses have hosted several New Zealand Opens.

Grange Golf Club general manager Mark Stuart confirmed the clubs were talking about a merger, but discussions remain confidential.

Royal Auckland general manager Warwick Hill-Rennie, a former chief executive of the Grange, referred questions to club captain Brian Hannan - who would not comment.

Auckland Golf Association executive director Peter Seagar said he'd heard the merger could involve adding four or five holes from the Grange course to Royal Auckland and selling the remaining land.

The Grange occupies about 45ha of land, which the Auckland Council values at $41.8 million.

An agent for Bayleys real estate company, Angela Rudling, said Auckland Council had told her the land was zoned "main residential"- meaning there could be one dwelling for every 300 square metres once infrastructure was installed.

" This land is highly valuable and there would be interest from developers, residential housing groups and maybe even Housing New Zealand.

"This is well positioned near all major facilities. It would be a very desirable opportunity."

Most golf clubs face falling membership - more than 13,000 people belong to clubs in Auckland, but membership has fallen by 2600 over the past four years.

But not everyone is in favour of the two-into-one plan.

Remuera man John De Gues has been a member of Royal Auckland for 25 years and isn't happy about the merger talks.

"I don't know why they are doing this. These are two clubs that aren't really compatible ... [club bosses] say it is to build for the future," he said.