'Nuts' to consider course move: Turner

Cromwell Golf Club member Colin Cowie and professional golfer Greg Turner reflect on the future...
Cromwell Golf Club member Colin Cowie and professional golfer Greg Turner reflect on the future of the Cromwell Golf Course. Some members are upset the course has been identified as a possiblesite for residential development. PHOTO: PAM JONES
Professional golfer Greg Turner has added his voice to a group of Cromwell Golf Club members fighting a proposal to turn the Cromwell Golf Course into high density housing.

But Cromwell Community Board members and the golf club board say members will be consulted before any decisions are made on what is a long-term proposal that might never happen.

The proposal came about through the recent Cromwell Spatial Plan, which was done as part of the 30-year Cromwell Masterplan. The plan identifies the 18-hole Cromwell golf course as a potential site for high density housing.

Half of the 50ha golf course is owned by the golf club and the other half is on Central Otago District Council land.

Golf club members Les Topping and Colin Cowie said many members were upset about the possibility of losing their golf course.

If the golf course was lost another one would probably be built, but a replacement site identified near Bannockburn Rd was unsuitable and the cost significant - estimated at more than $20 million, Mr Cowie said.

Turner, who spent 18 years on the world's golf stage, winning 12 events internationally, agreed and said it would be "nuts" to move the Cromwell course from its existing location. The Cromwell course was built on sand and had the classic ideal base for playing golf, he said.

Turner said what should be considered instead was investing further in the Cromwell course to attract more tourism dollars.

Golf tourism was a major contributor to New Zealand's economy but Cromwell "hasn't really benefited from that as much as it could have," Turner said. With more spent on marketing and maintenance, the course could become an even greater asset for Cromwell, he said.

Cromwell Community Board chairman Neil Gillespie said the idea to rezone the golf course for housing might not become a reality for decades, if ever. The community board was in consultation with the golf club board, which would in turn consult its members, and "nothing's going to happen without the approval of the golf club", Mr Gillespie said.

Golf club board chairman Des Minehan said the club's executive members were preparing "a list of pros and cons" about the proposal and would then employ an independent consultant to carry out a referendum of members.

"We have no bias whatsoever and are following good governance by following process. We welcome the views of our members, and will go to them when we have everything ready."


Much more logical would be to re-zone Highlands for high density housing and a regional hospital. This would in turn open land to south and west of Cromwell for further residential use.