Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Common sense in short supply

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Last week I attended a funeral held at the Mahunga Golf Club. It was actually held out on the course during one of these sweltering hot days, but mature trees supplied ample shade for the congregation and the setting with a backdrop of a picturesque lagoon was idyllic. The lengthy sealed driveway into Mahunga is spectacularly tree-lined and provides an expectation of something special at roads end which the beautifully manicured course provides. It is one of those hidden treasures that comparatively few people ever get to see.

The same superlatives can be levelled at the Masterton Golf Club’s Lansdowne course which has a higher profile as much of it can be viewed from a public road.

Both facilities are gems, but my understanding is that the two clubs are struggling financially. Golf is declining in popularity and the necessarily high cost of membership means many simply cannot afford to be involved. Masterton once boasted three thriving golf courses with the 18 hole Riverside Club in Colombo Road. There was also a popular 9 hole public course at the Solway showgrounds.

Mahunga and Masterton’s answer to declining popularity and financial uncertainty is to combine, but don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen.

There are similar circumstances elsewhere that need urgent answers. The chartered clubs are a case in point. The Cosmopolitan Club’s recently published accounts show a trading deficit and although their well-designed premise looks justifiably valuable on paper, unless it can be used for the purpose for which it was intended then its true value decreases substantially.

I suspect the Services and Citizens Club and perhaps to a lesser extent the Masterton Club will also be showing diminishing returns.

These clubs suffer from the same malaise as the golf clubs. An ageing demography, a low waged economy, but perhaps the most telling of all, a well-resourced constabulary that forcefully frowns upon citizens getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming relatively minor amounts of alcohol.

Golf clubs once subsidised the game itself with profits from bar takings, but most members now exit the premises almost as soon as the game is over, presumably so not to risk a drink-driving charge.

Although the Cosmopolitan Club hosts a number of community groups such as Masterton’s four Probus Clubs it was specifically designed for members to have a drink in a convivial atmosphere. Since the Cosmopolitan Club was built in the 1970s the Masterton Licensing Trust has prudently closed the public and lounge bar facilities at the Pioneer, the Horseshoe and the Homestead. Only the Kuripuni Tavern survives to fly the flag. The huge Homestead building at Solway, sitting next to an expansive but empty carpark, is a sad sign of the times.

Assuming there is little money in hosting funerals, should golf clubs allow their cultivated courses to be turned into upmarket housing estates and are chartered clubs and public bars now considered to be a thing of the past and need to be reconfigured into old people’s homes?

The answer is probably “no” to both questions, but some sort of common sense rationalisation is essential.

“It’s good sportsmanship not to pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling” - Mark Twain

1 comment :

  1. hello Rick Must say I enjoy your columns, and miss them now I'm not visiting Masterton as much. However recently I've checked them online, and in many ways they keep me in touch with Masterton and its people and life! Also somehow I found One Man's Meat, still a very good read.

    On Wed this week I'm taking your comments in 'Going against the trend on climate' to a group of mostly scientists in Wgtn. If nothing else they will laugh, but yeah a few of them live in the Overseas Terminal apartment reconstruction and I daresay have absolutely no fears of being swamped. Have a great week! Catharina Verhaart