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Michael Campbell's home club may close

When Michael Campbell held aloft the U.S. Open trophy at Pinehurst on Sunday, attention rained on the tiny suburban golf club where he first learned to play.

Club members sipped champagne and, when international media set the club's single telephone ringing, they recounted past rounds with Campbell and shared memories of a talented youngster who broke the course record at age 14.

But as the spotlight cools and the club's brief fame wanes, the club could be going out of business.

The course stands on sprawling parkland near the coastal settlement of Titahi Bay, just north of New Zealand's capital and on the edge of the working class township of Porirua.

The land has been leased by the club for almost 50 years from Radio New Zealand, which operates a transmitter on the site.

But the Department of Conservation's tenure on the land is likely to expire in 2011 and the golf club's lease, which has been informal since 1999, also might terminate.

A club spokeswoman said uncertainty over the lease prevented the club tackling major course improvements and expanding from nine to 18 holes as once was planned.

Campbell began the career which led to his triumph at Pinehurst No. 2 as a 10-year-old when his father, Tom, took him to the Titahi Bay club. By 14 he was a junior champion and the course record holder.

The walls of the club rooms are covered with photographs of Campbell as an amateur champion, a junior champion, at the British Open and as the club's own senior champion. He remains a sponsor of the club and a supporter of junior tournaments and coaching programs.

 

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