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Club's multi-million dollar plan – The Australian Jewish News

AS Jewish-owned Cranbourne Golf Club (CGC) hosts this week’s Australian Amateur Championship for the first time, its members are digesting the possibility that the club as they know it may eventually be sold, with proceeds going to the Jewish community.

A bombshell announcement was made in mid-March that CGC will help fund, and eventually become part of, an upgraded Huntingdale Golf Club (HGC).

The land CGC is on was purchased seven decades ago for 20,000 pounds by a Jewish-owned entity called Cranbourne Country Club (CCC) to establish a golf club welcoming members of all backgrounds, in response to the barring of Jewish players from private clubs.

The AJN understands that, preceding the announcement of an in-principle agreement with Huntingdale, the CCC board was concerned about new state government land tax amendments that would require an additional $1.6 million to be paid per year.

Subject to Huntingdale’s members approving the course upgrade masterplan at their mid-year AGM, the deal will enable an initial tranche of CGC members to become HGC members, in exchange for CCC contributing $10 million towards Huntingdale’s renovations.

During the course upgrade, from 2023 to 2025, HGC members would be able to play golf at Cranbourne, after which time, Cranbourne would be sold by CCC, likely for more than $100 million, which could then be distributed to worthy Jewish communal projects.

CCC president Mark Wollan told The AJN that “weighing up the benefits of this alliance felt like a huge responsibility, [as] each of the members on the CCC committee is highly aware that we are solely the custodians of this asset, on behalf of the Jewish golfing community of Melbourne”.

Noting that the committee recognised that many Jewish golfers were “joining golf courses closer to where they lived”, he said the alliance “ultimately presented an enormous, and very positive, opportunity for the Jewish golfing community”.

He added, “We are determined that CGC, and its reasons for coming into being, are not forgotten”.

To that end, he said CCC would establish a golf development foundation at Huntingdale, HGC’s annual calendar will include CGS’s most important events, and its clubhouse will have a “permanent historic display telling the story of the CGC”.

Wollan confirmed that if selling the CGC land “is ultimately the path down which we will go, CCC will enter into a detailed consultation period with its members, and the community, and will then consider its options”.

Les Kausman, author of What’s Golf? The Story of Cranbourne Golf Club, told The AJN that, if and when CGS closes, “it will be an extremely sad day for the people who have done so much for the club”.

“Many members, when they heard the announcement [of the CCC-HCG partnership], felt like it was a stab in the heart,” he said.

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