The Business of Golf gets a lift from Mulpha Group

The Business of Golf gets a lift from Mulpha Group

In an effort to rejuvenate public and council-owned golf facilities around the country, Mulpha Group, Australia’s most experienced real estate and hospitality investors, has established a $60 million fund to secure long-term leases of at least 20 years.

The funds will be provided by the Malaysian group Mulpha through an agreement with Golf Australia.

Golf Australia chief executive James Sutherland told The Australian that the sport and Mulpha would end up in joint ventures across several projects and derive revenue to be invested back into the sport.

The Australian arm of Kuala Lumpur-listed Mulpha International is providing the equity and partnering with Avid Sports Management and Golf Australia on the PlayGolf Fund, a turnaround play designed to bring new people into the sport, chief executive Greg Shaw told Financial Review.

Modernisation, technology, hospitality, inclusivity and time savings are key themes for the new venture at a time when the game is enjoying a pandemic-led resurgence with player numbers on the rise after years of decline. Despite the bump in popularity, many council-owned courses and driving ranges, in particular, were struggling financially, Mr Shaw said.

3 million people in Australia have hit golf balls in the last 12 months and only 14 per cent are members of golf clubs. Shaw said a potential model for the investment was a new $12m facility the group is building in Norwest, northwest of the Sydney CBD, called Swing City.

The development includes 40 golf driving range bays, a licenced restaurant with undercover and outdoor dining, corporate function and entertainment space, minigolf and amusements facilities. There is also golf ball tracking technology allowing players to compete in a range of challenges including longest drive, nearest the pins and virtual play on some of the world’s most famous golf courses.

James Cooper, managing director of Avid Sports, which runs Golf Central in Brisbane told financial Review that golf must evolve to attract new participants and that “entertainment-based golf” was part of the game’s future.

The pitch to councils, which are being invited to apply for the scheme, is that they can still provide locals with a golf experience and generate revenue while using less land through technology.

Shaw said he expected individual projects to be worth between $5-10m per investment, and that Mulpha would offer to enter into long-term operating leases with councils or clubs to manage the facilities


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