With residential and commercial development encroaching upon the golf course, the Horton Park board and management took proactive steps to ensure its future survival and entered into an agreement with merchant banker Babcock & Brown to sell its 53ha of land, and relocate to a new course which would be built on caneland west of Kunda Park. Babcock & Brown and the club would jointly develop the site.
That plan broke down when the Global Financial Crisis struck and Babcock & Brown was not able to proceed with the deal. Instead development company Lend Lease brokered a deal in which it would purchase the Horton Park land, and our club would buy Twin Waters Golf Club from its Japanese owner, and move there.
This proposition was put to the Horton Park membership at three separate Special General Meetings, and was defeated each time – twice by the narrow margin of three votes. At the same time, Sunshine Coast Regional Council made it clear it would resume the club’s land in order to establish a new Maroochydore CBD.
In the end, the council and the club came to an agreement. Horton Park would sell its land to the council for $42 million – and the club would use the funds to buy a parcel of land adjacent to the Maroochy River at Bli Bli and build a new golf course, complete with a modern clubhouse and practice facilities. Initially it would be an 18-hole course but there was sufficient land to build an additional nine holes.
A ballot of the membership determined the new club would be known as the Maroochy River Golf Club.
Former champion Australian golfer Graham Marsh, a renowned golf course designer, was engaged to build the new course. In his 30-year career as a golf course designer, Marsh and his team had designed more than 15 courses across Australia and the world including Eagle Pine (Cyprus), Cottesloe Golf Club (Perth), Al Houara (Morocco), Anvil Creek (Hunter Valley) and Ancient Saltern (China).
The course at Bli Bli proved quite a challenge. Battles with flood storage issues, sulphate soils and degraded cane lands created a few headaches but in the end, Graham and his team hit a hole-in-one, triumphantly setting the highest standard in courses across the Sunshine Coast while ensuring environmental best practice.
Born of humble beginnings more than 65 years ago, we welcome you to our new home, the Maroochy River Golf Club.