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50 miles NW of Palmerston North
The Wanganui Golf Club was established in August 1894, making it one of the oldest clubs in New Zealand. The original course was originally located in the Balgownie area of Wanganui but, fourteen years after inauguration, the club moved to its current site on the eastern outskirts of Springvale and the course, known as the Belmont Links, was born. The first clubhouse was a homestead that was already on the land, and this survived until it was destroyed by fire in 2001. Two years later a new clubhouse was built, reopening on the same site.
At 6,597 yards (6,032 metres) from the back tees, the Belmont Links is quite a long course by contemporary standards. Some of the fairways are flat and others are undulating (resembling links land) and the property has sandy subsoil that drains well all year. There are a few climbs to elevated tees that provide lovely views of the surrounding countryside. However, despite some holes being links-like, Wanganui is tree-lined and more parkland in general character.
With only two par fives on the card and par set at 70, Belmont Links is no pushover. The four one-shot holes are notable, including the 140-metre 2nd – called Seaview – but the 195-metre 12th, known as French Pass, is a stand-out hole that features a tight drive with out-of-bounds to the left. The 12th has wrecked umpteen cards over the years and remains a supremely challenging one-shotter. The home hole at Wanganui – called Imlay – is also widely regarded as one of the best closing par fours in New Zealand.
Wanganui Golf Club has played host to many national tournaments, most notably the New Zealand Open on seven occasions between 1911 and 1978. The club has also hosted the New Zealand Amateur for both men (six times) and women (also six times).
The touring professional, Simon Owen, was born in Wanganui and learned to play golf on the Belmont Links. Owen won the 1976 New Zealand Open, which was held at Wellington Golf Club (now Royal Wellington Golf Club since gaining royal status in 2004).