North Shore Golf Club was established in 1931, with golfers playing on a site just outside Auckland in Takapuna. In the late 1950s, the course was under threat from motorway works for the Auckland Harbour Bridge so a decision was made to relocate 8kilometre northwest to Albany.
Thankfully, the old site which was lleft behind wasn’t completely obliterated and the municipal Takapuna Golf Course still operates there, attracting more than 60,000 rounds of golf annually.
Over the years, an extensive drainage system was installed at Albany to overcome the sodden state of the fairways which can occur with heavy rain on the North Shore clays and a fairway watering system was introduced in the mid-1990s to further enhance playing conditions.
There are 27 holes in operation at the club and, very confusingly, the names for the three 18-hole configurations match those on the individual nines so the “Red” course combines the Red nine (holes 1-9) and Blue nine (holes 10-18) – with the “Blue” course comprising Blue and Gold nines and the “Gold” course made from the Red and Gold nines.
Notable holes on the 18-hole “Red” include the downhill short par three 4th and left doglegged 6th which runs along the side of Lucas Creek. On the back nine, the par four 13th brings a lovely lake on the right of the fairway into play with the approach shot, while the heavily sand-protected par three 16th is a lot more difficult that its benign stroke index suggests.
The Red course at North Shore hasn’t been ranked in the Top 50 courses in New Zealand so far, even though it’s been there all along, and not exactly hidden in the “wop wops” (Kiwi slang for “middle of nowhere"). And whilst I don’t think it’s good enough to proclaim it Auckland’s best kept secret or anything like that, it is a really dependable parkland course, very much in the same ballpark quality wise as other Kiwi parkland courses in the lower reaches of the Top 50, such as Hastings and Queenstown. Like these two, North Shore has not made the mistake made by so many New Zealand club courses of having lines of mature trees hard up against the fairway, dictating playing lines, removing all strategy and opportunities for heroic recovery shots.
I could talk about standout holes, but there aren’t any really, in a good or a bad way. It’s gently rolling parkland, reasonably formulaic but with a little bit of individuality from the holes down by the river. A fair test of golf, but not too brutal. I’m sure it does a good job of catering to a wide range of abilities. I’m trying to think of adjectives for it, but “solid” just about sums it up. Hard to fault.