LOCALS have launched a petition urging Lake Macquarie City Council to refuse any application to rezone the Morisset Country Club site to facilitate housing development.
Sunshine Progress Association has sponsored the petition.
Its president, John Quinlan, said the current zoning of RE2 Private Recreation must be retained.
"There is already inadequate open recreation space in this south-western part of the city and with predicted rapid population growth the need is even greater," Mr Quinlan said.
"The owner [Drysdale Metals Pty Ltd] should not be allowed to earn massive capital profits by selling the land to a developer for uses other than the originally intended purpose of recreational open space."
Drysdale Metals has not revealed its plans for the site.
No rezoning application has been made with the council.
Mr Quinlan said the club and golf course was made possible by the gifting, in 1962, of 91.5 hectares [226 acres] of land from Morisset Hospital to the community, through the then Lands Board, for the purpose of a golf course.
He said that original purpose "should and must be respected".
Ownership of the club shifted to the Returned and Services League (RSL) in 1965, then to Barwar Holdings Pty Ltd, in March, 1989, and to Drysdale Metals Pty Ltd six months later.
Last month, Drysdale Metals Pty Ltd issued a notice to vacate to the club's board of directors.
Morisset Country Club shut its doors and ceased trading on May 26.
Mr Quinlan said he had been a member of the club for 17 years.
"I'm devastated at the closure because this club is one of the reasons we came to live in this area," he said.
"I'd played golf as a kid, but didn't play during my working life, so playing golf at Morisset was to be part of my retirement."
More importantly, the club had become a cherished local asset, he said.
"It's not just a club, it's a valued community facility."
Mr Quinlan said he did not hold out much hope that a new owner would revive the club and golf course.
"In nine months it would take an enormous amount of capital to salvage the golf course," he said.
"So I don't think it will reopen as a golf course."
But whatever happens, Mr Quinlan would like to see the clubhouse refurbished and re-opened.
He said apart from golfers, the club was home to bowlers and a snooker club, and was regularly used by dance groups, South Lake Macquarie RSL sub-Branch, the University of the 3rd Age (U3A) and Morisset and Toronto Meals on Wheels.
It was also a regular meeting place and social hub for residents, he said.
Mr Quinlan said he acknowledged any rezoning application for the land could ultimately be taken out of the council's hands.
He said land owners always had the option of taking their matter to the Land and Environment Court, or to have any large proposal for their land deemed a project of state significance.
But for the time being, the progress association's focus was on sending council a clear message.
"This petition is a means of creating awareness in council that we are losing a very valuable community asset, and we need to do whatever we can to save it," he said.
"Council unanimously rejected a rezoning proposal [for the club site] in 2013, and must be encouraged to do so again."
He said any proposal to develop the site would "change the face of Morisset for ever".
Hard copies of the petition are available in businesses across the district, "from Wyee to Dora Creek", he said.
Or go to change.org and search 'Morisset Golf' to find the petition online.
Last Sunday afternoon, locals gathered at The Bay Hotel, in Bonnells Bay, to reminisce and farewell Morisset Country Club.