Few golf clubs have experienced a rockier climb to the top than Palmerston North. The club has changed the location of its course on four separate occasions, each time having to start development from scratch. Four times it has created a new establishment and twice it has had to re-establish itself from wreckage – in 1947 after World War II and in 1965 after a disastrous flood.
In early 1930 a public meeting was convened to explore the possibility of forming a second golf club and course in the city. The meeting decided they should proceed. An area of land owned by the Railways on Milson Deviation and leased by an estate had been offered for use as a golf course. To be expected, finance in the early 1930s was in short supply so the members rolled up their sleeves. No one but those actively involved will ever know the amount of hard toil invested in the golf course on Milson Deviation. This course was duly opened on April 19, 1930.
Due to the course resembling a ready-made army assault course and not a golf course, it was generally accepted by the end of the 1931 season that no amount of effort or finance would bring playing conditions up to a worthwhile standard. In December 1931 it was officially decided to abandon the deviation course and move to another area at Te Matai Rd, Whakaronga. This was completed during 1933.
This course steadily improved and the growing membership demanded that the course be extended to 18 holes to accommodate everyone. But alas this was not to be, as in 1935 the city’s fathers threw the proverbial spanner in the works when they decided to open up an area of reserve land in the south-eastern corner of the city. The council would lay out the reserve as an 18-hole golf course, survey and develop to playing conditions; furthermore maintain and service it as required. If the project went ahead, would Palmerston North Golf Club consider leasing the course as a going concern? Most certainly it would – did they really have any option? In March 1937 the club moved to its new home where the course was known as Awatapu (Sacred Stream).
Course development continued through the early war years. Then in late 1941 the Army Department took over the Awatapu course and all its amenities. Naturally the Army did nothing to retain the land as a golf course; those areas that suited them they used and they allowed the remainder to run wild. By 1947 the course had become overgrown and was in a sorry state.
The Awatapu course was redeveloped and steady progress made through the early ’60s when things would change again. Because of the course’s location on prime residential land, the council offered the club an alternative area to the north-east of the city.
The club then shifted to its present site in early 1964 and was officially opened on May 2, 1964. Within a year the course was flooded to a depth of several feet. When the flood subsided it left behind a deposit of river silt ranging from a few centimetres to a metre in depth. The vast amount of silt was used to elevate greens that may be flood-prone in future and the remainder was bulldozed into ridges and mounds to provide contours on a surface that had previously been depressingly flat and rather uninteresting. The flood had been a blessing in disguise in as much that it provided the need and opportunity of carrying out drastic course reconstruction.
In the intervening years, various alterations to the course and clubhouse have been undertaken, as today the club boasts a thriving membership playing on a course that, though not long, requires accuracy if one is to stay out of trouble. The course has a grown-up look and trees and shrubs that were once referred to as beautiful when small are now often referred to in much harsher terms.
– Published courtesy of Palmerston North Golf Club
Palmerston North Golf Club
Where: Brightwater Terrace, Terrace End, Palmerston North 4410
Green fee: $40-$50
Phone: +64 6 351 0700