Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

St Andrews Beach Golf Courses Have Struggled

St Andrews Beach Golf courses have struggled despite sharing the name of the home of golf, and being situated in the The Cups Country, a natural terrain for golf. Golf designers marvel at the rolling sand dunes of The Cups Country saying it creates 100’s of natural golf holes, and their challenge is to find the best ones.

1962 to 1986 St Andrews By the Sea

In 1962 the St Andrews By The Sea sub-division included a 9 hole golf course with free membership to land buyers and their families. The St Andrews Beach Golf Course was located on the site of the current St Andrews Beach Recreation Club. In 1986 the course closed and became the St Andrews Beach Recreation Club.

St Andrews Beach Golf - St Andrews By The Sea Golf
St Andrews By The Sea Golf

 

2004 to 2008 The Golf Club, St Andrews Beach

The Golf Club St Andrews Beach was a development by Golf Club Properties that also included courses at Kennedy Bay at Port Kennedy in Western Australia, The Bass Coast Resort at San Remo in Victoria,  and The Cathedral Range Resort at Taggerty in Victoria.

The plan at St Andrews Beach was to build two 18 hole courses – the Gunnamatta Course and Fingal Course, apartments and a club house.

St Andrews Beach Golf - The Golf Club St Andrews Beach Aerial Photo
The Golf Club St Andrews Beach Aerial Photo

 

The Gunnamatta course was designed by Tom Doak and opened in December 2004. Tom describes the course design: “our favorite projects are those where we can find natural holes just lying on the ground, requiring minimal disturbance to build.  Of all the projects we have built so far, the Gunnamatta Course at St. Andrews Beach required the least artificial work: other than softening greens contours and digging bunkers, only three holes required any earthmoving at all.”

Membership of The Golf Club St Andrews Beach was by a share with no annual dues. Members had exclusive access to the Gunnamatta course and priority access to the planned pay for play Fingal Course. The $55,000 membership fee was to be paid by instalments:

  • On  Application 10%
  • On completion of Fingal Course 20%
  • On opening of Fingal Course 20%
  • Opening of Members Clubhouse 50%

The Membership Model was reliant on green fees, paying corporate memberships and no debt. The funding of the course construction was heavily reliant on selling the apartments on the course. Both the golf club members and the apartment owners had a 199 year lease, but not direct ownership of the golf course or apartments.

 

In February 2006 members who had paid the 10% deposit on $55,000 were offered an incentive to pay $35,000 to take up full membership , a discount of $15,000 on the original $55,000.

By October 2007 the Golf Club St Andrews Beach had run into problems. Workers picketed the front gate over pay issues: Golf club workers rescued from the rough . Russell Leggo wrote a cheque for $500,000 to keep the the project solvent.

In April 2008 administrators were appointed:  Golf investors in rough . Members were asked to pay $500 to keep the course open until June 30.

However the course closed 4th May 2008. Golf dream bunkered by $46 million debt

Reports say Tom Doak was owed $250,000 for the course design. And that ultimately it was the other Golf Club Projects projects that killed St Andrews Beach.

2009 to now St Andrews Beach Golf Course

In October 2009 the Receivers appointed Golf Services Management Pty Ltd to operate the St Andrews Beach Golf Course as a pay-for-play course. The property was passed-in at auction on May 19th 2010 with a reserve of $7 million. In September 2010 the course was sold for over $7 million to a consortium of an Asian investor, a local accounting firm and golf architect Ross Perret. The course continues to operate as a pay-for-play and is rated in the top 10 public courses in Australia.

2012 to 2013 St Andrews Private Golf Club

Marketing for a an exclusive new golf club St Andrews Beach Private began in December 2012. The club offered 281 memberships “by invitation”.  Memberships cost $98,000, with an annual subscription of $5,350.

St Andrews Private Golf Club Brochure
St Andrews Private Golf Club Brochure

 

The development was sold as a exclusive club to high nett worth individuals. Potential members had to be wholesale or sophisticated investors under the corporations act 2001. The St Andrews Private Golf Club Brochure said “Imagine if your round was the only round that mattered.You made the tee time, you set the pace, where the track ahead was always open and the company you kept was yours to choose.”

Ross Perrett was engaged to design the course on the site of the second 18 hole Fingal course that was part of the failed The Golf Club, St Andrews Beach. The course was due for completion in 31 October 2013.

St Andrews Beach Golf - St Andrews Private Golf Club Master Plan
St Andrews Private Golf Club Master Plan

 

Many commentators raised concerns over the project:

They included:

  • the failure of the St Andrews Beach Gunnamatta course.
  • the nearby National Golf course with 3 quality courses and $10,000 joining fee.
  • whether Thomson Perrett could produce a standout course needed to attract a $100,000 joining fee.
  • competition from 28 other golf courses on the Mornington Peninsula.
  • the waning market for golf memberships and new courses.

The sale of the land was complicated by the need to realign title boundaries.  The developer obtained permits for construction and sale of the land was due for March 31 2013 . Course construction started in January 2013 with spraying of the fairways. By February construction had started on greens and tees on holes 15 and 16. In March work commenced on the 14th and 17th holes. However work slowed down due to the lack of 3 phase power to the site.

Few were surprised when in May 2013 work officially ceased.

The Construction superintendent, John Geary, who was also burnt by the previous St Andrews Beach Golf Club developers said he was “led to believe the owner had the money to fund the development, but it became clear that funding had become reliant on membership sales which weren’t coming in.”

Commentators speculated that fewer than 20 memberships were actually sold.