Golf club's future looks bright
THE Condamine Sports Club has extended a hand to the Warwick Golf Club in a period of financial trouble, and is in the "very early stages" of striking up a partnership to ensure its prosperity into the future.
A number of factors - including high overheads, extended wet weather and a drop in members - has had the golf club watching its bank balance with increasing concern the past couple of years.
The club had found its membership base of about 300 playing members, 200 social members and a further 50 junior members wasn't enough to cope with rising costs.
Warwick Golf Club president Don Stewart said the board had decided to approach the sports club to see whether any help was available.
"We approached the Condamine Sports Club and we are in the very early stages of sorting something out.
"Nothing is set in concrete but the ball is rolling," Mr Stewart said.
The Condamine club plans to take over the lease of the clubhouse - which encompasses the restaurant, bar and pokie machines - for the next nine or so years.
Club manager Ian Skillen said leasing costs were still being sifted through, but he was confident an agreement would be reached.
"We've already contacted our legal people and we are just waiting for all the government requirements to be met," he said.
"The golf club will be run as a separate identity to the other five clubs (we support). Those clubs won't be affected at all by this agreement.
"The Condamine Sports Club is doing it to support the community clubs and encourage sport in Warwick."
Mr Skillen said he couldn't say whether the restaurant would continue as Frankie's on the Green at such an early stage.
After leasing the clubhouse for the next nine years, Mr Skillen said the Condamine Sports Club would likely then re-evaluate in the future whether an extension would be warranted.
While existing golf club members won't notice any drastic changes, Mr Stewart said there would be minor increases to membership fees.
"No golf club members will be disadvantaged by the lease agreement," he said.
"Golfers won't have to pay another membership, but prices will probably be going up this year. It shouldn't be any more than the usual increase though."
The golf club's financial difficulties could be eased considerably, Mr Stewart said, if another 100 or so members were to join.
While he said membership numbers weren't the only factor in the club's the financial hardship - which is echoed by golf clubs around Australia - it was probably the straw that broke the camel's back.
"We've been finding it difficult for the past while and we're trying to provide the facility of a great golf club in a town of this size.
"It's also expensive to maintain the grounds.
"We're down to two full-time ground staff and one part-time staff and a lot of volunteers.
"In old times we could have put volunteers behind the bar but these days you can't do that."
High overheads and failing numbers weren't helped, Mr Stewart added, when golfers were deterred by higher than average rainfall these past 18 months.
Mr Stewart said he was excited to receive the lease of life from the Condamine Sports Club, describing it as an opportunity the club "couldn't refuse".