Russley - South Island - New Zealand

Russley Golf Club,
428 Memorial Avenue,
Christchurch,
South Island,
New Zealand


  • +64 3 358 4748

  • Golf Club Website

  • E of Christchurch International Airport

  • Welcome – contact in advance

  • Not known

  • Commander Harris, Puddicombe Golf, and Turner and MacPherson (2015)

  • Rodney Yee

The Russley Golf Club is perfectly situated on the edge of Christchurch's Garden City. It started out in life as a 12-hole course called Hagley Golf Links and, according to the club, it was founded “on good old Kiwi determination and innovation”.

In 1927, the current and more challenging site was found for a new beginning and in 1929 the first clubhouse was built and it remained for more than sixty years until a new 19th hole was built in 1994. The new clubhouse provides panoramic views across the golf course.

We simply didn’t know who originally designed the course at Russley Golf Club but Grant Puddicombe took the trouble to contact us and shone some light on the architectural story: “Commander Harris had some involvement with the original design, Puddicombe Golf did a Master Plan in 1990 and redeveloped holes #3,6,7,9,11,13 &17.”

Today’s Russley is very challenging thanks to renovations which included enlarging the greens, mounding – to add definition to the otherwise flat topography – and the addition of water hazards at the 6th and 7th holes.

Russley played host to many International and National Tournaments including the 1985 New Zealand Open that saw the ever-popular Corey Pavin lift the title. The United States ladies team also lifted the Espirito Santo Trophy when the biennial world amateur team championship for women was held at the club in 1990.

Despite its championship pedigree, Russley has four sets of tees from which to choose so the course is eminently playable for handicap golfers. With many holes lined by avenues of stately trees, Russley is a delightful course but, according to the club website, the key to a decent score is to drive straight and true, as advised by the motto ‘Medio Tutissimus Ibis’.

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Reviews for Russley

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Description: With many holes lined by avenues of stately trees, Russley is a delightful course and, according to folklore, the key to a good score is "Medio Tutissimus Ibis". Rating: 2.5 out of 6 Reviews: 2

From what I heard about this course I was expecting a lot more from it. I struggle to understand how it could hold top professional and amateur events there. The course lay out as not particularly good and it lacked any creativity. A lot of the holes all felt the same, up down up down. It was hard to pick a hole that stuck out. The course condition was far from good with the greens being slow and tined, fairways and tees were very cut up and hadn't been cut properly for a while. I emailed in advance to book a decent set of clubs but I was just given what I was given, no questions whether I wanted a specific brand or specification. I was looking forward to playing it as it was highly rated but I would not consider coming back. Not very impressed at all.
2 / 6
Russley
October 11, 2013


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I was expecting great things from this place – the highest ranked South Island course on the website, hosted the ’85 NZ Open. But after playing it, I was entirely underwhelmed. This is just another NZ course that is a flat piece of land where the holes are simply avenues flanked by mature trees. There’s little character, variation or idiosyncrasy to most if it. This is particularly true of the first 5 and last 4 holes, all of which had little to recommend them than requiring solid ball striking – but you could say that about a flag in a field, as long as it was 400m from tee to green. The design and bunkering was unimaginative to say the least. In its defence, holes 6-14 have something to them, and in particular 6 and 7 bring some excitement and at least require some strategic decision making. The par-5 6th is a classic risk-reward 2nd shot over water, tempting you into having a go at a green that looks like it has an inviting bail out area, and leaves you forgetting that it is bordered on 2 sides by water. The par-3 7th also features a prominent water hazard with a huge contoured green, making the hole vary hugely depending on the generosity (or otherwise) of the greenkeeper – a ‘how daring a line will you take’ type of thing. Granted, it’s a clear cut above many NZ club courses that look very similar on the surface, but it really doesn’t warrant a ranking of 5th in the country. Probably not even Top 20. I’m suspecting the reason for the ranking is that the course is probably stretchable to 7000yds / 6400m and could represent a reasonable challenge to pros and top amateurs. But in my book, length doesn’t make a course – give me somewhere shorter like Berkshire (Red) or West Sussex any day over this, by a million miles. No way is it the best course in the South Island, not even close.
3 / 6
Russley
April 02, 2009


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