Golf club in the rough over lease


THE not-for-profit club which has been running Devilbend Golf Course for the past 43 years may be sidelined to make way for a commercial manager.

Mornington Peninsula Shire officers have told councillors that appointing a manager for the 18-hole golf course in Loders Rd, Moorooduc would create “a reasonable commercial return to council”.

The recommendation to advertise for a manager follows a request for renewal of its 21-year lease by the 450-member Devilbend Golf Club.

The club has six full time and seven part time staff and last year showed a net operating profit of $71,642 from a turnover of $1.36 million. The curent annual rent is $10,233.

In a report to council this week (Wednesday 26 April) property operations team leader Greg Collins says the latest profit followed “a net loss of $107,676 due largely to unforeseen legal and salary expenses”.

The report was dropped from the agenda on Monday without further explanation, although councillors expect the issue will be revisited.

Mr Collins says granting the club a third 21-year lease over the Crown land “would limit council control over the property to the terms and conditions of the lease”.

He then quotes the Leasing Policy for Crown land in Victoria 2010 which states that “granting exclusive occupation of Crown land under a lease should not occur except where it can be justified in terms of benefit to the community” and “proposals to lease Crown land need to demonstrate the application of sustainable management principles”.

The Devilbend club has been following a master plan since 2005 which has involved extensive tree planting and weed control in conjunction with Melbourne Water, the shire’s natural systems team and several federally funded green army teams.

“Improvements on the land include an 18-hole golf course, club house, pro shop, car park and sealed driveway, maintenance and machinery storage sheds and extensive irrigation and drainage including a 46 megalitre dam,” Mr Collins states in his report.

In the 10 years to 2016 the club spent $760,000 on course improvements (not including of staff/volunteer labour); $41,900 on maintenance; and $594,000 to buy machinery.

Mr Collins gives two examples of public golf courses on Crown land being run commercially: Bay Views at Rosebud and Morack in Vermont, although the City of Whitehorse is yet to appoint the successful tenderer.

He said granting the Devilbend club a five-year lease would allow council to work on a transition from the club to commercial management.

The club would also have “security” for equipment leases.

He said the club could use the course if a commercial manager was appointed but “no longer carry the risk of managing the facilities”.

Mr Collins recommended that the shire calls for expressions of interest for the lease of the golf course.

First published in the Western Port News – 25 April 2017


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