Greenacres Golf Club is located on Best Island, on the opposite side of the tidal Waimea Inlet to Nelson. The home grown course dates back to 1959 and it’s laid out on predominantly sandy ground where the coastal holes have some links-like characteristics.
The current back nine holes were put in by members, who cleared gorse, removed stones and grazing stock to fashion the fairways. H. G. Babbage was then engaged in 1964 to design an additional circuit on the western end of the island, now the front nine, and these holes were also built by club members.
Holes are laid out as two returning nines, with the second half measuring almost 300 yards longer than the front half, thanks in no small part to it having back-to-back par fives that run parallel to each other in opposite directions at the 15th (“Ridgeway”) and 16th (“Piggadilly”).
Highlight holes include the stroke index 1, left doglegging par four 9th (“The Gully”) which shares a green with the 18th in front of the clubhouse, and the shortest of the par threes at the 143-metre 17th (“Wee Willie), where a late birdie might be possible by avoiding the two bunkers to the right of the green.
Greenacres lies on one half of Best Island, a flat teardrop shaped island within Waimea Inlet, in what appears like a complex estuary system but with only a rather piddly little river feeding it. It’s a fairly unique setting for a golf course, certainly in this country, and that makes the experience of playing here all the richer.
If the point of being on the NZ section of this website is to look for courses that rise above the mire of tree-lined mediocrity so prevalent across the country, then yes, you will find that here. But only in places. More specifically, in four or five of the first seven holes, at the north-west side of the clubhouse. Unfortunately, having been able to glimpse much of the rest of the course from the clubhouse, you already know that your round is not going to stay as interesting as it started, but no matter.
Those early holes carry some delightful linksy ripples (I assume this is completely natural, and this is a largely sand and/or silt based course), no more so than on the 2nd, where an arrow-straight medium length par 4 is defined by some quite chaotic ground movement, particularly near the green. After a mundane short 3rd, the dogleg 4th brings back the quality. The 7th is also a very decent stanza, and certainly the most picturesque, with the inlet running hard up against the left-hand side of the majority of the hole, especially by the green.
As I said, your round will largely deteriorate after that. Not to anything terrible, just to something that you can find anywhere in New Zealand – tree-lined parallel fairways, routed up and back, often too narrow for any strategy, and with uninspired bunkering around the green. There are a couple of half-decent holes in there, but that’s what you can say about most clubs across the country.
Rightly floating around the margins of a New Zealand Top 50, but worth a look if you’re in the area. I’d have to say that the authentic “true” links at Nelson is a notch above Greenacres quality-wise, but not by a mile.