Golf’s big hitters weigh in

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R&A lends support to local players.

The world’s rule-maker of golf is throwing its weight behind the battle to keep Frankton Golf Course as is, where is.

The Royal & Ancient from Scotland’s famous St Andrews course has written a letter of support for the Wakatipu’s oldest golf club as its nine-hole course faces eviction at the hands of Queenstown Lakes District Council.

A few years ago, QLDC told Queenstown Golf Club – which operates the Frankton course – that its long-term lease would no longer be renewed when it expires in 2012.

The valuable land is earmarked for planned Events Centre expan­sion by QLDC quango Lakes Leisure.

Queenstown Golf Club boss Michael Shattock contacted golf organisations like R&A and New Zealand Golf in a bid to gain support before approaching QLDC during council 10-year plan consultations recently.

In a letter to QLDC, R&A director of golf development Duncan Weir says the Frankton course is “just the type of facility golf should be offering”.

The QLDC land-grab has outraged many of the 50,000 young and old golfers who use the 51-year-old community course annually.

“It doesn’t make sense to me to be extending [the Events Centre] as a recreational facility because [the golf course] already is a recreational facility so you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face there,” says Frankton dad John Wallace.

Keen golfer Viv Kennedy adds: “Why would you take away a facility that’s being used by a huge cross-section of the public?”

The council grab has also raised the ire of the Frankton Community Association – it’s “unanimously against” any relocation, vice-chair Richard Stringer says.

The course is in an “ideal location” for young and old golfers, it’s affordable, and has major positive spin-offs for local business.

He’s urging people to attend a FCA public meeting on July 8 at St Margaret’s Church at 7.30pm where the land-grab will be discussed.

Mayor Clive Geddes is adamant the lease won’t be renewed “in its current form”.

An independent consultant provided a list of alternative sites to relocate the club, he says.

“[The club] was asked to provide their preferred option but they declined to do that and that’s where the matter currently sits.

“We have told the golf club as recently as their discussions in the 10-year plan that we will continue discussions with them in respect to the future of the availability of a flat, nine-hole course in the district to golfers.”