The present day course at Remuera Golf Club has evolved through the years, with architectural input from a number of different sources.
W.S. Ralph first put the site to golfing use in 1934 when fairways were formed from the rough scrub and bush. Within a short space of time, two courses emerged on the property, one a public facility and the other a members’ club.
By the mid 1970s, only one course remained with fairways arranged by an Auckland firm of architects named JASMAD. When opinions were expressed that this course was too tight, a local designer named Harold Babbage was called in to remodel the layout.
Today’s Remuera course is a delightful parkland track with a real sting in its tail. The long par three 17th is a tough cookie to take on from the back tees and it’s sandwiched between testing par fives at holes 16 and 18 where birdies are seldom seen.The Canadian design firm of Puddicombe has been involved in recent upgrading work to the course and Grant Puddicombe kindly provided us with the following comments:
“We were commissioned by the Remuera Golf Club in 2004 to develop a master plan and strategic plan to redevelop the golf course. We have been doing a fairly extensive remodeling and have completed the reconstruction of holes 1 to 4 and 16 to 18 as well as the practice area. We will be continuing this redevelopment program by doing one or two holes at a time. Temporary greens were constructed on two of the holes to ensure the course continues to operate as a functioning 18-hole course throughout the redevelopment.”
Remuera golf course is situated conveniently close to the eastern suburbs an affluent area of Auckland. Membership is close to full, largely retired members. Restrictions on play most days due to the volume of members. Course is under going renovation and drainage improvements however the blue print looks promising for future times. This will however take time as the recent wet winters have left the Park land course close to closure on days during wet times particularly June-September. In recent years the course has had to be modified from par 72 to enable work to be done on 1/2 holes a year during the summer months and the lack of play ability in winter months (see above drainage) has meant an average playing experience. The course is narrow in places and features good par 4's of varying distance and shape. A food collection of par 5's, 2 easier (1&18) and 2 longer and harder (13&16) but much depends on the wind direction (usually west). One hole lets the course down, the par 3 11th, as well as some poor green layouts on holes 9 and 15. Holes 7 and 10 par 4's will test players for accuracy and distance in a west wind direction. Feature holes include the par 3 17th playing 200m from the tips (somehow stroke hole 14- i assure you its not) and the par 3 3rd playing over a duck pond. The front 9 features housing around some of the perimeter with the back 9 more laden with features. The course suffers from a low water table and high traffic to greens as well as disappointing bunkers and unneeded sad shrubs and vegetation in annoying areas close to premium fairway hits and maintenance issues bringing its overall score down. With further drainage works and hole redevelopment expected, the course can only improve. The course provides a practice facility, driving range, cafe, bar and pro shop. The overall service is average to fair, free range balls for a warm up or a friendly golf shop welcome would improve the experience. This is a members course and this is glaringly obvious. Worth playing in its full par 72 layout in summer but ring ahead for course works and avoid in winter.
At the time of writing, the course is in a state of transition. After bringing in Canadian-based design firm Puddicombe Golf, they are renovating the course, one hole at a time (perhaps at the rate of a hole a year). So far, they’ve completed 1-4, and 16-18. The new holes very much fit the mould of conventional parkland golf, with clean lines, some strategic thinking, aesthetically pleasant but somewhat conservative bunkering, and making decent use of the rolling terrain where it exists. I particularly enjoyed the par-5 16th – it’s open to cavalier attempts to reach the surface in two. If you nail a dead-straight driver, you may wangle a position to be left with an exhilarating second across a cavernous dip. I also felt that the new par-3 3rd was decently crafted, not so much for the showy terraced water hazard, but because a cheeky shaved run-off short and right made the ultra-safe shot unlikely to yield a par, forcing a decision to flirt with the water.
The ‘old’ holes are a little average in places, although the previous reviewer’s description of ‘Mickey Mouse’ is way off track for me. Fairways are a little tight, there’s an overuse of raised greens, and there’s nothing inspiring about the bunkering or green complexes. But despite the somewhat weak 11th and 15th holes, there’s nothing hugely sub-standard to drag the course down. All of which is somewhat academic, because in 10 years, it’ll all be changed.
I had a look at the plans for the new holes – a lot of it looked decent. There were quite a few ‘obvious’ choices, e.g. that natural amphitheatre at the back of no. 6 was crying out for the green to be pushed back into it, and indeed it appears this will transpire. I would guess that when completed, Remuera will deserve to be called an NZ Top 20 golf course, but for now, I think a mid 20’s ranking is reasonable. Matt Richardson