The course at Hokowhitu, home to Manawatu Golf Club, is reckoned to be the oldest New Zealand golf course in continuous use since it was established as a 9-hole layout in 1895 – it was subsequently expanded to a full 18-hole course ten years later.
The course has changed much over the years, primarily due to a C.H. Redhead redesign in 1928 and further alterations made in 1955 by H.G. Babbage. Manawatu Golf Club hosted its first national Open in 1922 and four more followed over time, the last of which was won by Bob Charles in 1973.
Manawatu is a very pleasant parkland course laid out on a compact, 110-acre site between a lagoon, Massey University College of Education, and the Manawatu River. Measuring a moderate 6,600 yards from the championship tees, it is no longer considered long enough to hold a modern Open competition but it is still a revered championship venue nonetheless.
The 363-yard 9th (“Totoras”) is a great par four hole to end the front nine. With out of bounds all the way down the right, a long iron or utility club is the preferred club off the tee at this left doglegged hole as a small dry culvert and then the road to the clubhouse cuts across the fairway 250 yards out to catch the unwary. The approach must not then be too big as the green slopes from back to front and a putting position from the back of the green is definite three-putt territory!
Impeccable condition for a club course. These greenkeepers deserve medals. Big fat medals.
It feels like the length of every fairway here is lined with massive trees. Not quite all of them actually are, but good God does it feel like it. I'd relish occasionally being punished some other way for slicing it other than repeatedly hacking it out from under a wall of majestic Pines/Totara. This is probably just a reflection of my ability and I should just get better at golf. Or become a vigilante arborist.
Despite that, this really is a good course. Arguments could certainly be made that all the trees need to be there to turn what would otherwise be a shorter layout into quite the challenge. And they'd probably be right.
Would rate 5 balls for conditioning, 3 balls for layout, so 4 balls overall. And that's enough talk of balls.