Unlikely Wests will buy Longyard Golf Club

WESTS Entertainment Group management yesterday revealed it had received a formal approach to buy the Longyard Golf Club.

Longyard owner John O’Rourke stunned the golfing community this week by announcing he had put the club on the market due to a family illness.

Tamworth’s premier golf course, the Longyard has had a tumultuous history, built by developer John Smyth in the early ’90s but subsequently owned by Tamworth Regional Council, a consortium of members and, most recently, the O’Rourke family trust.

Mr O’Rourke fears the future of the course, which is valued at upwards of $6 million, may be in jeopardy if he doesn’t find a buyer, urging Wests, the council or members to take it over.

But Wests chief executive officer Rod Laing said while the club had been approached to buy the Longyard, it was unlikely the board would approve it.

“It’s obviously a matter for the board, but there’s a golf club behind us struggling (Tamworth Golf Club) and if anyone needed our support, it would be them,” Mr Laing said.

“Anything’s possible, but we would have to apply to turn it into a registered club and it’s an exhaustive process.”

He said Wests had been approached more than a decade ago to bail the club out but declined, as it was going through a merger with the Tamworth RSL at the time.

Tamworth mayor Col Murray said it was also unlikely the council would be in a position to rescue the club.

“It probably doesn’t fit within our core business,” Cr Murray said.

“Council is facing up to some challenges at the moment without venturing into new capital assets.”

Former Longyard president and member of the club’s foundation committee, Nick Broadbent, remained confident the club would continue as a golfing venture.

“There are a couple of safeguards in place ... it has to remain a golf course and on public access land,” Mr Broadbent said.

“I hope another buyer comes along, though.

“A lot of people have put a lot of time into making that course.

“The biggest issue is making it commercially viable. 

“Tamworth is blessed with two ridiculously cheap golf courses and it makes it hard for a prospective owner.”

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