Situated close to where the Battle of Boulcott’s Farm stockade took place during the New Zealand land wars between British forces and local Mâori people in the 1840s, the course at Lower Hutt has been in use since 1909 when a 9-hole layout was first established.
A further four holes were brought into play a couple of years after the course’s inauguration but the intervention of hostilities during World War I delayed the arrival of a full 18-hole layout until the late 1920s.
The golf clubs of Hutt (formed in 1892) and Boulcott (founded in 1938) were amalgamated in 2010, thus creating New Zealand’s first Heritage Golf Club at Boulcott’s Farm, so all the members of the newly merged club play at the same Military Road venue.Currently the 18-hole course at Boulcott's Farm is being reconstructed in stages, following a masterplan laid out by Chris Pitman (who was responsible for the universally acclaimed renovation / restoration at Titirangi). A new short 6-hole course has also been completed – all to USGA standards.
It appears that circumstances have led to an 18 hole and a 9 hole club, both running over rather ordinary golfing property, having to amalgamate, with the added complication of some flood defences being built by the local authority, which also have to be incorporated into (disguised by?) the new design. John, the general manager, let me know that in no way were they seeking to compete with the likes of Royal Wellington down the road, which suggests that their budget is not close to the $7+ million spent there. So it seems that the club(s), in collaboration with Chris Pitman, have decided that this was an opportunity to create something new, and are doing the best they can with what they have.
So … to the course. Firstly, the holes that were just starting to grow in – they will be (I think) 8, 9, and 18 when the course is finally complete. Couldn’t get a good feel for what the 9th will be like, but 8 (par 3) and 18 (par 4) look like they may be the best of the bunch, from what I can see, particularly some beautiful shaping around the 18th green. Of the new holes that were open, they generally seemed like conventional modern parkland design, although 4 was somewhat quirky with a sharply angled green. Again, it’s really hard to judge that hole, as it’s a long par 4 that I played into a 4 club wind – hard to feel how it plays in those circumstances. What remains of the old course seems like a decent version of a New Zealand parkland course, which is probably why it had just sneaked into our Top 50 before the changes. A couple of really neat holes – I could number them, but those numbers will probably have changed by the time you get there.
The impression it left me with was that this was a golf club made for the community it finds itself in. It’s a busy place, with a down to earth feel, and it’s priced for people who have normal, run of the mill salaries. It’s also no pushover. I can imagine that this is the perfect club for skilled young players, looking to hone their games on an affordable course that will, when completed, give them a flavour of championship golf. There’s nothing amazing about it (although the new 18th might come close), but it’s solid.
To give it a score, I have to base it on what I found, which is a three ball, but when completed, it will almost certainly fit alongside courses I have given four balls to. Matt Richardson