The sale of Waterford golf course at Newrath is on the cards, a concrete enquiry about buying the property having been made by a development group already involved in a major project near the city.
At the golf club’s AGM on Sunday night outgoing Captain Mr. Peter Finnegan disclosed that local estate agents had been in communication on behalf of an identified client, expressing an interest in the whole of the lands owned by the club.
That would amount to about 120 acres in total – the 80-acre course plus about 40 acres remaining from a field bought in the early 1990’s from livestock exporters Purcell Brothers, a portion of which was later sold off in housing sites.
Mr. Finnegan refused to divulge the name of the interested party but it is understood to be a consortium which has plans for what has been described as a world-class golf, hotel, fishing and residential complex on the old Dawnay Estate at Whitfield, Kilmeaden. Planning permission for that project was acquired by a development company headed up by County Antrim developer Mr. Alastair Jackson, but some or all of its interest in the property is believed to have been sold on recently and the new owners are the ones interested in the Waterford golf club land.
O’Shea O’Toole and Partners are the estate agents and auctioneers involved but Mr. Des O’Toole declined to comment in response to enquiries from our reporter and he specifically refused to name the group he was representing.
Mr. Finnegan told the members that representatives of the club’s board of directors were to engage in discussions this week with the estate agents to further explore the issue. The members would be informed if “anything worthwhile” emerged.
Exactly two years ago this newspaper revealed the possibility of the golf course being sold and, no doubt in anticipation of the subject being discussed, there was a huge attendance at the club’s 2005 AGM a few days later. As it transpired – to the great surprise of many – there was no reference to the matter.
Indeed, plans were subsequently drafted for a €2.65 million redevelopment of the course, including installation of sand-based greens and an irrigation system, which got the go-ahead by a narrow majority at an extraordinary general meeting of members only last month. As of now, that work is scheduled to commence in late summer of 2009, the cost to be met by the sale of a section of “Purcell’s field”.
While that upgrading was under consideration some prominent members, former Captains among them, aired the view that on account of the course being increasingly “squeezed” by surrounding residential development, the possibility of selling up and re-establishing elsewhere should be examined. That idea however was strongly opposed, particularly by those living in close proximity to the course who have been lifelong club members.
It is thought that if the interested group were to succeed with a bid for the Waterford golf club property, the deal would involve transfer of the club to the new course at Whitfield (for which former US Masters and British Open champion Mark O’Meara has been signed up as design consultant), plus a substantial financial payment. That sum would either be banked by the club or shared among the membership who own the course outright, the club having acquired the lease more than ten years ago from the City Council.
If an offer was to be brought to the members, from the current interested party or any other prospective buyer, the matter would be decided by a members’ vote, with a simple majority winning out one way or the other.