ARMIDALE Golf Club will avoid insolvency this financial year, but its president has not ruled out a future merger with another local club to safeguard the club’s financial security.
Fine weather, a $100 levy imposed on members and incentives encouraging greater use of the course over the past two months have improved the club’s perilous position.
However, club president Doug Bassett (pictured inset) said a long-term strategy was required to prevent such a situation from occurring again during another wet summer.
Although no concrete discussions about a merger with other Armidale clubs have taken place, Golf NSW CEO Greg Mills visited the club late last month and gave examples of successful mergers between clubs in Sydney.
“He felt it was inevitable that some of the smaller clubs would have to merge or amalgamate for survival,” Mr Bassett said.
“A lot of his examples were based on Sydney golf courses where there was a number of golf clubs within a very close proximity of one another. We are different in that we’re the only course in Armidale.”
Mr Bassett said Armidale Ex-Services Club manager Bob Ryan had approached the golf club to offer assistance, but no talks about a merger had taken place.
Mr Bassett said a merger would be considered in the future if it was likely to benefit the club.
“If the situation was right and it was going to benefit both clubs, you’d be mad not to consider it, but at this point in time it’s not on the agenda," he said.
Mr Bassett was personally sceptical about the benefit of a merger due to the loss of independence from such a move.
“I’m not a supporter of amalgamation because I feel as though you lose some of the control over the major asset of the club, which is the course,” he said.
“You’d also need to have the commitment from the other merging club, which presumably would be in a position of superiority financially, that they were going to continue to invest the sums of money that we do in the course.”
The club’s finances have been affected by adverse weather conditions and dwindling membership numbers over the past three years.
The club recorded a loss of $29,900 during the 2008-09 financial year, with more than $40,000 lost in 2009-10 and $17,800 in 2010-11.
An information meeting about the state of the club’s finances was held in February, with club officials anticipating at the time that an injection of about $45,000 was required before June 30 in order to keep the club afloat.
However, the fine weather had improved the club’s situation in recent weeks, according to Mr Bassett.
“It’s been beautiful weather, there’s been lots of people out playing golf so the money’s been coming in,” he said.
A $100 levy placed on members, expected to generate about $47,000 in revenue, has also improved the club’s bottom line, with most members responding positively to the move.
“That decision was viewed, I think, by the majority of members positively, in that they realised that it was something that we needed to do,” he said.
“The money has, in turn, come in and there’s been some very generous members who’ve donated more money on top of what we asked for.”