14 Sep 2018

Back in July the owner and operator of the North Lakes Resort Golf Club announced that it was selling part of its property to a retirement developer, and closing the golf course at the end of 2019. The decision by owner Adam Simpson was blamed on a lack of play, the course struggling to attract both local members and green fee golfers. The North Lakes estate to the north of Brisbane is home to around 20,000 residents. Membership for a full year, including golf cart, is around $2,800 while green fees have been advertised as low as $50 per round.

While hardly an architectural masterpiece, the demise of North Lakes should concern all in golf given the demographics of the area and the relative low price points. Simpson purchased the course in 2006 and operated profitably for several years, before a steady and unsustainable decline in patronage. He points out wider societal trends in recent years away from golf, and the difficulty of attracting new players as reasons for the course having no future.

It comes down to a simple fact. Golf courses need golfers and we don’t have enough golfers,” Mr. Simpson told the Courier Mail. “I’ve persevered and made every effort to make this a success as a golf course. We’ve had constant deals through online golf discount… I’ve been trying to sell the club to other potential golf course operators for more than two years but I’ve had no takers.”

The sale was announced in July, with The Village Retirement Group (VRG) purchasing the entire parcel of land but committing to retaining more than 85% of the golf course as publically accessible open space. The remainder of the site will be used for a low-density aged-care and independent living facility.

Designed by Graham Marsh and opened in 2002, North Lakes was the first modern ‘signature’ golf course in Brisbane and notable for the narrow out and back nature of its golfing footprint. It’s demise unfortunately further builds the case against golf professionals in the business of golf course design. This was always a difficult project but a focus on 'championship' length, difficulty, branding and formula never seemed the right approach here.

For more on the sale and closure of North Lakes click here.


by Darius Oliver

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Australia, Graham Marsh, Design News