NEWCASTLE Golf Club members have voted to proceed with a redevelopment which will convert part of the celebrated course into a seniors village.
More than 80 per cent of members eligible to vote plumped for the plans at a virtual meeting on Wednesday night.
The Newcastle Heraldreported last year that the club had entered into a preliminary agreement with Principle Living, a joint venture involving two of the Hunter's biggest property players, the McCloy Group and Stevens Group.
Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care is also involved in the project, which covers six hectares along Nelson Bay Road at Fern Bay.
The plans include 64 units across two four-storey towers and about 80 houses and villas.
The club will receive an up-front cash payment as part of a long-term lease of the land to the developers.
The commercial deal is subject to the project winning Port Stephens Council and state planning approvals.
Newcastle is regularly rated one of the top courses in Australia and is listed with the National Trust.
The revised layout will include seven new or redesigned holes. The club also plans to rebuild its green and bunker complexes.
Club general manager Christian Gillott said he was not concerned the changes would ruin the course.
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"There's many top international courses that are iconic that have consistently tweaked their golf course and proved that it's not wrecked at all," he said.
"You've got Augusta, plenty of courses in America and the UK that have done that."
The four holes the club was losing, the 1st, 16th, 17th and 18th, were on "flat, fairly boring golfing country", but the new holes would be on "really exciting, natural, rolling coastal sand dune".
He said the club's board was pleased that a "fairly large portion" of the membership had supported the project.
The course work could start in mid-2022 and take about 16 months to complete.
The course would stay open as an 18-hole layout during construction. Work on the seniors village would start after the course construction had finished.
The club has been negotiating with Principle Living for about five years. It also talked to Woolworths about building a supermarket, but those plans were abandoned.
Newcastle is one of several Hunter golf clubs which have turned to residential redevelopments to shore up their financial future.
Merewether Golf Club and Thirdi Group are poised to submit development applications for 148 seniors apartments, a new clubhouse and a course redesign after reaching a deal in 2018.
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