The plush Port Elizabeth Golf Club has found itself in the rough after it emerged that it pays only R20 rent a year for premium land it now wishes to buy and develop to keep itself afloat.
A bid by the long-standing Mill Park club to purchase its land from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality erupted into a heated debate over land development and ownership yesterday as councillors demanded to know how the sale would benefit the disadvantaged.
Tempers flared as it emerged that the golf club, situated on what is considered prime land, is charged only R20 per year in rental fees from the municipality.
Battling financially with maintaining the course, the club wants to buy the land from the metro to have more leeway to transform it into what it terms “a meaningful asset” to generate more revenue.
The PE Golf Club, on erf 148 Mill Park – also known as The Hill – is the second-oldest golf club in South Africa.
The presentation of how the club planned to transform the land lacked detail, prompting the human settlements portfolio committee to question the benefit to the public.
The club chairman of the projects committee, Alan Orchard, said while golf was battling to attract the numbers it used to, they planned to change this by introducing young potential players from around the Bay to the sport.
Selling the land to the club, Orchard said, would add a lot more money to the city’s coffers than the R20 per year it currently receives – a lease that only expires in 2038.
Orchard said there was an opportunity for future housing development for “multiple income groups”, but he did not say exactly what type of houses they had in mind.
“From what you showed us here, it looks like golf estates. So, where is it mixed use? You must tell us. Is it RDP, townhouses, social houses?” committee chairman Nqaba Bhanga questioned.
“Golf is an expensive sport; Africans can’t afford to play it. So, how are you going to assist with that?” Bhanga said.
DA councillor Duncan Monks climbed into Orchard, saying he failed to show how they planned to generate the extra revenue, increase tourism and develop the youth.
“This land was leased for the purpose of community development, not to generate more income. If the municipality wanted to create a higher income stream, it would have sold the land. Your proposal lacks credibility of what you’re asking for,” Monks said.
His comments were echoed by EFF councillor Zilindile Vena, who said the land question was about redressing the pains of the past.