Construction on a long-awaited resort at Kalgoorlie golf course has finally started, five years after it was announced, as developers overcome cost blasts and environmental hurdles by building on top of a former landfill.

The 122-room resort to be operated by US hotel chain DoubleTree by Hilton was announced by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in September 2017.

It was originally hoped that the complex could be completed on the council-owned golf course by the end of 2018.

But it has been repeatedly delayed as working tests for underground gas were carried out at the old landfill site.

Construction finally began this week with the installation of the first of approximately 500 piles.

Evan Campbell, of developer Collab Capital (formerly Pacifica Developments), said the piles would be drilled about 12 meters into the old landfill to suspend the structure safely.

He said the work would add about two months to the 18-month construction phase.

“When you’re looking through old boards you never know what you’re going to find, it might take a little longer, but it should be pretty straightforward,” he said.

“We’re not too concerned about that, so six to eight weeks, and then we’ll carry on with the other work for the site.”

An aerial view of Kalgoorlie Golf Course, which opened in 2010.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

Project costs soared

The project’s initial budget in 2017 was around $22 million, which exploded to $31 million in 2020.

Mr Campbell said it is now expected to cost between $35 million and $40 million, with an official opening scheduled for mid-2024.

Around 40 caravans are being moved from Perth to Kalgoorlie-Boulder to house contractors during construction as WA’s latest mining boom has resulted in an ongoing accommodation crisis.

Artist's impression of a new hotel.
The first designs released to the public in 2018 were based on the teeth of an excavator’s shovel grazing the ground and inspired by the colors of the Goldfields. (Supplied by: City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder)

Despite soaring costs in the construction industry, Mr Campbell said the finished product was worth it.

“The cost side is obviously difficult,” he said.

“We’ve all heard what’s happened with COVID, kind of a perfect storm out there from a materials standpoint, from a labor standpoint.

“The project is fully funded…but the reality is that it’s going to cost a lot more than we originally thought.

“But having said that, on the revenue side of the hotel, we think it will trade better than based on our feasibility. [because] this will be the first major food and beverage development in Kalgoorlie for 20 years.”

A professional golfer comes off the tee.
New South Welshman Austin Bautista was 2021 WA PGA Championship runner-up at Kalgoorlie Golf Course.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

Long wait for golfers

Kalgoorlie Golf Course is ranked 62nd on Australian Golf Digest’s list of the country’s top 100 golf courses.

But Goldfields Golf Club has been waiting for a permanent clubhouse since the $18.5 million course opened in 2010.

Its 488 members, accurate as of June 30, have been housed in a modular building for a decade.

The town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder was contractually obliged to build it after the land housing three former clay courses was handed over as part of the 2004 grass course agreement.

The long-running saga took another twist in December last year, when councilors voted 11-1 to pay for additional site preparation work, which will see the council’s financial contribution to the project rise from 7 million to about $12.5 million.

Mick McKay was the only opposing adviser.

A man in a suit walking down the fairway of a grass golf course.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler at Kalgoorlie Golf Course in September 2017 when the resort was announced. (ABC Goldfields: Isabel Moussalli)

The mayor salutes the work

Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler welcomed the start of construction, saying council had been working on the station for more than a decade.

“It’s been a frustrating and slow time for us, but better late than never,” he said.

“From this we will not only have a new clubhouse, but a new pro shop. [and] a 4 and a half star hotel.”

While the town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder uses recycled water to maintain the fairways, the course has always operated at a loss.

Council documents show Kalgoorlie Golf Course suffered a loss of $2.27 million last year compared to a loss of $1.89 million in 2020-21.

The largest expense in the last reporting period was $1.03 million for the construction of the resort and clubhouse.

Mr Bowler said he hoped the station would improve the economy of running the course.

“You’d like to think so,” he said.

“Once you have this charming four and a half star hotel overlooking the 18th green, you will attract more golfers [and] they will stay longer to spend a day on our unique course.

“This will be one of the finest hotels in the WA region and is something all Goldfielders can be proud of.”

The start of construction comes on the eve of next month’s 2022 WA PGA Championship, which has been held at Kalgoorlie Golf Course for a decade and will see 120 of Australia’s best golfers play.

The 2021 event was delayed by COVID-19 and played in April this year after the WA border reopened.