THE future of Tamworth’s premier golf course has been plunged into doubt after the shock announcement this week it would be sold.
The 155-acre Longyard Golf Course, the centrepiece of the Longyard housing precinct, will be off-loaded by the O’Rourke family and is expected to fetch upwards of $6 million.
John O’Rourke, who purchased the course in 2003 on behalf of his family trust, said it was critical to the city – and Longyard residents – the course be maintained at its current high standard.
“I’d like to see someone like Wests, council or a consortium of members buy it,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“It’s become an integral part of the local sporting scene and a real tourist attraction.
“It needs to be kept to its current standard because if it was let go, who knows what impact that would have on the city or the real estate market at Longyard.
“Somebody owes those homeowners near the course a duty of care.”
Mr O’Rourke said he had plans to add a motel or tavern to the site but was forced to sell after his elderly father fell ill.
He and wife Belinda will soon move to the North Coast to be closer to family.
The club, which has 12 fulltime employees and close to 700 members, boasts an 18-hole championship golf course co-designed by Greg Norman, a putt-putt golf facility and a clubhouse.
Two residences owned by the O’Rourkes will also be offered as part of the sale.
Mr O’Rourke said he was “truly proud” of what he had achieved at the Longyard in the past decade.
“It was a goat track when we took over and we’ve put a lot of ourselves into it,” he said.
“I’m truly proud of what we have achieved and ... it has been a labour of love to consistently add to and improve the course.”
He thanked the staff for sharing his vision for the course and said while it had run at a loss for most of his ownership, it was now at the point of profitability.
A letter was sent out to the club’s members this week informing them the club was being offered for sale and informing them it was still “business as usual”.
The club has had a chequered history, originally built by John Smyth in the mid-’90s but later taken over by a co-operative of members.
The current sale is being managed by LJ Hooker and Ray White Tamworth via expressions of interest.
“The reason that area is so sought-after is because of the golf course,” LJ Hooker Tamworth principal Richie Thornton said.
“It’s really improved since John took over and is looking as good as it ever has.”