125th Jubilee

North Otago Golf Course Jubilee

North Otago Golf Club in Oamaru South Island  celebrated  it’s 125th Jubilee 2018 Easter.

Article by Michael Minty published on 28/03/2017

Ask anyone what Oamaru is famous for and their response is likely to be one of three things – Penguins, Steam Punk and the Victorian harbourside precinct.

The latter illustrates what was once vibrant bustling local economy that is today a reinvigorated tourist attraction for many. So it’s no surprise that situated out the south side of the town lies one of the oldest established golf clubs in New Zealand – The North Otago Golf Club.

At Easter the seaside club celebrates 125 years of existence,a rich history spanning over four locations – the old “Hospital Hill”, Cape Wanbrow, Redcastle and its current location known as the Awamoa Links.

In 1895 the idea of moving to a new location was mooted (reason unknown). The club was offered land by Mr J.S Holmes after previously looking at joint utilisation of land in accordance with the cycling club.The first official club day was November 9th 1892 on the “Hospital Hill” course which was 9 holes at the time. At this stage there were 20 members but within 12 months the first club championships were held.

The club stayed on Holmes’s property for eight years before being requested to pay rent and two holes were sold. However it was then discovered the rest of the land at Awamoa had been sold so the search began for a new site.

Redcastle Estate owner John Buckley came to the party during this period, offering his land for a new 9-hole club. The offer was gratefully accepted and the course was cordially opened for play on April 13th 1903.

Another upheaval took place in 1908 for reasons unknown but back to the original site on the Hospital Hill.

During World War I, golf took a back seat and the course condition declined with many members serving their duty and the land returned to farm land condition.

The post war golf boom saw the old nine hole course become congested to the point where a 4th change of venue was sought and a move to new 18-hole layout on Cape Wanbrow was finalised in 1924.

Many would’ve thought it to be their final shift.

It was in 1926 the club secured the service of Captain A. Conway – a soldier and “course expert” and Mr Gilbert Martin – a professional adviser, to find and design the course.However with the “Cape’s potential not being realised” possibly due the steep terrain, exposed hilltop areas, the clubs final destination arrived only three years later securing funds through what was known as the Grand National Raffle – a nationwide raffle for various clubs and organisations. North Otago Golf Club received 6125£.

Those who’ve played North Otago Golf may have noticed holes 8 (Martins) and 16 (Conway) are named after the pair.

On April 9th 1927 the new links was officially opened where it lies today.

On a typical North Otago autumn day there was “bright sun shine but a cool southerly that was at times gale force” according to a diary entry.

The course today has gone through significant change over the years and continues to play a small  role in a unique Oamaru tourist market.

The greens have improved dramatically over the years thanks to current green keeper Gary Creedy and his green staff despite battling dramatic seasonal change from extensive droughts to untimely wet periods.

Blue tees have been installed in attempt to lengthen the modest 5685m track off the men’s tees and numerous pine plantations have been removed opening up better elevated views, non more evident than stunning vista of the Pacific Ocean from the 5th tee.

North Otago Golf Course is a seaside gem rich in history that should be on the bucket list of anyone traveling through the North Otago town.