$600K: PAR FOR COURSE

SS&A Club is hoping for Wodonga Council funding to improve drainage of this land next to Parkers Road before it can be sold. Picture: DAVID THORPE

SS&A Club is hoping for Wodonga Council funding to improve drainage of this land next to Parkers Road before it can be sold. Picture: DAVID THORPE

An SS&A delegation told the council it wanted to be given some direction one way or the other on whether it was willing to partner with it to save the course.

This followed a letter sent to business services director Trevor Ierino by SS&A chief executive Tim Levesque.

Mr Levesque said in his submission the board believed the only way the golf course could survive was with the council’s support.

Chief operating officer Gerard Darmody represented Mr Levesque at yesterday’s meeting.

Board vice-president David Broad said there simply was no guarantee of the golf course continuing to operate without such support.

“And I just can’t imagine Victoria’s fastest growing regional city losing its golf course,” he said.

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Mr Darmody said the club’s financial position was continuing to improve — debt had been cut by $3 million to just over $7 million — but the golf course was still struggling.

“There’s a 30-year-old irrigation system that’s going to fail over the next two or three years,” he said.

Cr Mark Byatt said he agreed the club was an asset the city could not afford to lose.

But he asked the club how it could guarantee that it would not return in three years’ time to once again ask for financial help from the council.

Mr Broad said being able to sort out the drainage issue would allow the club to sell the Parkers Road land to developers.

That, he said, would cut about $1 million from the $3 million debt carried by the golf course, saving the club more than $70,000 a year in interest payments.

Mr Broad said the board had worked hard for four years to try to come up with a solution.

The course was put up for sale, but the SS&A received little interest.

Mr Broad said the RACV had a look, as did some Chinese investors and others.

Mr Levesque said in his letter that necessary capital improvements, ongoing operating costs and rates at commercial levels were all pressures that could potentially close the course.

He noted the club’s corporate governance obligations to make business decisions that “improve the overall financial health and guarantee the future of the company as a whole”.

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