Without being in any way unkind, until recently Harewood was a solid but unremarkable golf club course in the typical New Zealand parkland mould, right next to Christchurch International Airport. However, an extension to the runway saw the airport acquiring some of Harewood’s land (it was previously a 36-hole club). The club apparently decided to use the money to significantly upgrade its main course, known as the Woodlands, or Old course.
To oversee the upgrade to the Woodlands course, they hired Greg Turner & Scott Macpherson, who over the last few years completed a number of well-crafted redevelopments, predominantly in the South Island, including Millbrook and Cromwell. The partnership also reconstructed the Royal Wellington golf course, and handled the design of Close House in the North East of England in 2011.
Turner and Macpherson re-routed the first five holes, built eighteen new teeing grounds, and removed over 500 trees from the property. But it is the eighteen new greens that have been the talking point. Far more undulating than their predecessors, they now present an abundance of strategic decisions that were sorely missing from the original layout. The new layout came into play in early 2012.Golfers in New Zealand are not historically as used to such considerable variation in their putting surfaces as in the States or the UK, and this has been a bold move on the part of the club. The course garnered some rave reviews from professionals when it hosted the John Jones Steel Harewood Open on the Charles Tour in 2012, and architectural connoisseurs have also weighed in with approval during its inaugural year.
I literally am going to cut and paste the first paragraph of another review, because it’s so relevant – “I’ve now done many similar reviews for Kiwi parkland club courses that sit between 20 and 50 in our rankings, and have also visited a few that didn’t quite make the cut. Just to recap … it seems that if a parkland course is to have a chance of being ranked Top 50 in New Zealand, it generally needs to have something extra, to help it rise above the mire of tree-lined mediocrity that you’ll find with alarming regularity in this country”.
So does the Turner & MacPherson renovated version of Harewood have something extra? Yes it does – and it’s entirely because of the work they did. I played Harewood before the reno, and it was very “meh”. It was OK – golf’s always at least OK though, because it’s golf. It wasn’t offensive, but it had nothing to speak of.
I’ve got to say that 6 holes in, I was thinking “wow”. Not because it was a NZ Top 10 course, but because they’d taken something so bland and made it really quite compelling, without actually shifting much earth or doing anything obvious or indelicate. Turner and Macpherson’s fingerprints were all over it - undulating greens that stop short of wildness, notably the Biarritz style double plateau green on 4, and the hugely original tiering of the par 4 5th. Loved the short par 4 2nd as well, driveable for the big hitters, but punishing those out of position, purely via the shaping of green and surrounds.
Maybe my expectations were raised too much, but I found myself a little sad to see the course descend too close to mediocrity for much of the rest of the round. Yes, there were still some great greens, but the holes that went with those greens were often relatively featureless. At least we had the satisfying finishing long 18th – a broad sweeping arc, with shaping and bunkering pinching the landing area for most golfer’s second shots, but certainly inviting them to attempt to execute two pure strikes to thread the needle and find the target.
Still, yet again this showcases T & M’s ability to make something worthwhile out of not a lot (see Cromwell for another great example). If you’ve got limited resources for a renovation, it seems prudent to spend it on great greens and surrounds – surely nothing else lifts a course to the next level without massive outlay.
Located adjacent to Christchurch airport, Harewood Golf Club dates from 1923 when a keen group of local golfers came together to form the club. The course they put together takes advantage of some gently undulating sandy terrain dominated by pine trees.
However the club struggled financially and folded in the 1930s and the land was subsequently used for army defence training during World War Two.
In 1956 Ray Blank, one of the original members, was instrumental in reviving the club again. And then the club purchased another 100 acres of land and opened a second 18-hole course in 1967 designed by Commander John Harris.
Over 40 years later the neighbouring airport desperately needed more land, and Harewood sold much of the land home to 'the Harris course' and used the funds to implement a serious upgrade to the original Woodlands course (Old Course)
Architects Turner McPherson reworked all tees and greens and re routed the first five holes- added bunkers, and removed a lot of trees and opened the course up. The revitalised Old course opened for play in 2012 and it is the movement in the greens that have attracted the most comment.
Holes 1-6 impressed me. They have a lovely linksy feel- the fairways have the rumple reminiscent of UK golf, and the new greens have enough movement to really get your attention. While I did not find some of the flatter, tree-lined holes as interesting, the new green complexes were consistently entertaining.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Played mid winter 2018 and I was impressed with the greens condition would be A grade during summer- fairways average but hey its winter so will quite soft. The course layout Good very enjoyable day out great track for the mid-higher HC players which it certainly looks to be designed for.. If you can lay down PGA distance drives then your be having a crack at many of the Par-4s, Overall the course didn't seem as long as the card stated>> Can't say it will be hugely memorable as it sort of blends into many flat parkland courses I've played in the South Island..But I think with what they had to work with right by the Chch Airport and Overall condition I certainly give them an A-grade esp. the greens.. Would I play again YES hopefully in harder conditions such enticing Par-4 there are so many birdie eagles to be had for this longer driver(If only my short game was as good!!!)
Harewood is a great course. Many of the holes are quite creative, and most have interesting greens, including the 5th, which is like a rollercoaster. On most fairways the adjacent fairways are not particularly close to each other - unlike many public courses (this is a good thing). There are a couple of long par 5s which require just big hits, but most holes require some strategic thinking. The fairways and greens aren't as well manicured as Pegasus, but there is a greater sense of space.