Hilltop Golf & Country rising to the occasion

June 12, 2024
Clyde Mooney

Battling the dilemma of rising costs of business and living, Hilltop Golf & Country Club is the latest to seek smart solutions to sustain its longevity and attract ongoing patronage.

Management decided to engage golf club specialist consultant Phil Ryan, who suggested a multi-prong approach involving reconfiguration and change to existing amenities and the creation of new attractions.

General manager Christopher Longbottom, who began with HGC in early 2023, offers that selling off assets does not create sustainable income, and they needed new solutions.

It’s said that the current driving range is a large area that is “underutilised’. The plan is to convert this from an obsolete 300-meter space to a ‘high-tech’ range, with indoor, short-hitting places like a simulator, and areas for socialising.

The club holds 13 caravan powered sites, enjoying outlook over the 16th green and 17th tee. These sites will see some capex to further increase their appeal.

But the largest aspect now in planning is a community retirement lifestyle village, providing around 200 apartments, in four-to-six-storey buildings. Longbottom feels a lifestyle village must be “about lifestyle” and its access to the club’s bowling greens and links both add appeal and bring surety to the future of the course.

Plans are at very early stages, and may still change considerably. In coming weeks the club intends to put out an Expressions of Interest offer to a select group of developers, with the chosen company to determine much of the final outcome.  

“Our role is hopefully maintaining a sustainable income and security for the golf club for the foreseeable future,” says the GM.

Image: Google maps

The village concept has already garnered strong support from club members, as well as Greater Shepparton City Council, and Golf Australia. The town of Tatura is well placed to welcome retirees, boasting local services and sporting organisations, and HGC has already fielded expressions of interest from potential residents looking to downsize and enjoy managed living with access to facilities.

The town is no stranger to drawing attention, as seen when the Tatura Hotel launched what became a viral campaign to “shamelessly” sell naming rights to parts of the pub in aid of its renovation fund.

GHC’s potential expansion is expected to be the first of its kind in Victoria, joining successful examples such as The Merewether golf course-adjacent living.

Its success will represent a significant boost for Tatura, while the current entropy might eventually spell the end of the club, which is likely to put downward pressure on property values and the community.

Longbottom says the heart of the reinvention is staying true to its origins, meaning a lifestyle village is perfect “because of the golf course, not despite it”, and that the club is expanding into a new era.

“This is really about a long-term solution for our viability.”


Greater Shepparton City Council, Hilltop Golf & Country Club

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