Muree Golf Club looks to diversify by selling off piece of Raymond Terrace course

GOING THE DISTANCE: Muree Golf Club board president Ross Picot near where the seniors living homes are proposed to be constructed overlooking the course fairways.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Muree Golf Club board president Ross Picot near where the seniors living homes are proposed to be constructed overlooking the course fairways.

A recent Golf Australia report found that slightly more than 50 per cent of Australian golf clubs are under financial stress, with many clubs increasingly facing a raft of financial challenges.

Not surprisingly, there was a tendency for the smaller clubs to be the hardest hit, a fact which has not been lost on the forwarding thinking board at the Raymond Terrace-based Muree Golf Club.

Board president Ross Picot said that the need to diversify was identified some years ago by the board members, who continue to look at ways to drive income outside of the traditional golf course fees and the licensed club bar and gaming takings.

"Some 15 years ago the club purchased nine hectares of land adjacent to the course with the intention of using this land to construct a series of new holes as substitutes for the 'hill holes' which would be transformed into an Over 55s development," Mr Picot said.

However, the concept hit a stumbling block and it was decided to sell off the 9-hectare site as commercial property to suit "a development similar to the twin servos outlet on the M1".

Mr Picot said that the Over 55s proposal would stand, but be confined to vacant sites adjacent to the licensed club.

The piece of land at Muree Golf Club, 6C Elizabeth Avenue, Raymond Terrace up for sale. Picture: realcommercial.com.au

The piece of land at Muree Golf Club, 6C Elizabeth Avenue, Raymond Terrace up for sale. Picture: realcommercial.com.au

Mr Picot said the board was hoping to fetch around $1.5 million for the land, which boasts 450 metres of frontage to the Pacific Highway at Raymond Terrace and is exposed to more than 48,000 vehicles daily.

"The property's strategic advantage is it will maintain frontage to the Pacific Highway under the planned and federally-funded Beresfield extension and Heatherbrae bypass," said a spokesperson for sales agents Commercial Collective Newcastle.

The property is zoned RU2 Rural Landscape under the Port Stephens Council LEP 2013 and is mostly vegetated. Mr Picot said that any proposed development would be required to abide by conditions in regard to the clearing and replacement of trees.

He said that plans for the hill-top seniors living development were still in their infancy.

"We are in discussions with [real estate fund and investment management firm] Lincoln Place," he said.

"Our original plans were to develop around 100 homes and four storeys, but that may have to be reduced to three levels. The two and three bedroom house prices would range from $400,000 to $550,000.

"We want to sell a lifestyle where residents have easy access to both the golf course and clubhouse, while enjoying fabulous views from the top of the hill."

Mr Picot said that the board had the support of club members and that it was no longer viable for just the bar and gaming to support a golf club, "we need to be smarter in how we position ourselves in the market".