by Chris Tobin
The new owner of St Andrews Golf Club’s course is still looking at options but says the course could remain open for play during the next couple of months, if the club wants.
The sale of the course will be finalised on December 17 when local farmer Ross Rathgen takes possession. As far as the club was aware earlier this week, all play at the course would cease after this Sunday.
A family website says Mr Rathgen expanded from the family’s St Andrew’s property into seed dressing, cropping and dairying.
His dairying companies, St Andrews Dairy Ltd and Otaio Dairy Ltd, each run about 1200 dairy cows, with separate advanced rotary milking sheds.
Rathgen Farms Ltd has 650ha of cropping ground and 150ha of grazing area. Another of his companies, Glenriver Seeds Ltd, operates a seed dressing plant.
Retaining the land as a golf course was still a possibility, Mr Rathgen said.
“It could be kept as a golf course and we’re waiting for a couple of parties to see if it is an option, although it looks fairly remote.”
If not kept as a golf course, the land would probably be cleared for cropping, not dairying. He did not wish to disclose the sale price.
Until a decision regarding the land’s future was made, which was likely to take a couple of months, Mr Rathgen said he was happy for the club to continue using the course.
Membership had dropped to 66 from a peak of more than 300, which was the direct cause of the sale and the club folding.
The club held its final tournament for members on December 1, a week after an open tournament had to be cancelled due to wet weather.
“It was a very good, happy day,”club secretary Janet Rae said.
“There was a lot of reminiscing. About 50 played golf, with another 20 there.
“It started at 10[am] and went quite late.”