20 MINUTES TO FREEDOM
There’s a new place for you to hang out and it’s offering something truly special. A friendly golf club that’s not a ‘country club’ but one that’s opening its doors to create a thriving local community in an idyllic 20-minute break to freedom and fun.
“Pauatahanui Golf Club has always been pretty unique” says Marketing Manager, Tony Naidu. “It embodies every essential Kiwi element; a no. 8 wire backstory, a stunning back drop of bush and greens, and a history of inclusiveness and genuine camaraderie that hasn’t always been the case in ‘The Game of Kings’. The key thing is… now it’s also a truly spectacular course to play – and it still welcomes everyone!”
Larissa Cox, Club Manager, couldn’t agree more. She has a long history with the club and has seen its transformation over the last 18 months. “We’re so excited”, she says, “we’ve got this state of the art course now and you might think that would change the mentality of our members but it’s done the opposite – we’re just as relaxed and even more inclusive than ever”.
So that back story? A group of mates in the 60’s was frustrated at not being able to get a regular tee time at a nearby private club. So, taking matters into their own hands – they decided to build their own course. They talked a local farmer into leasing them some land and got to work. And hard work it was levelling bush and farmland from tents pitched in the weekend weather.
Roll forward 40 or so years and while the course had been improved over that period; Transmission Gully posed a very real threat. The far end of the golf course was directly in the path of this essential crown development. It’s fair to say it took some negotiation but in that same pioneering community spirit, a deal was struck. NZTA would buy some of the land and help ensure the club would survive the upheaval.
That survival turned out to be more than replacing a couple of holes… it took a major redesign. One that Jeff Asche, specialist Golf Course Architect from Perspective Design in Auckland was hired to deliver. And deliver he did. The course is now a stunning experience for nine or 18 holes.
“NZTA have really come to the party and together we’ve created a haven for members from Johnsonville, Tawa, the Hutt Valley, Porirua Basin and even further afield”, says Naidu. “The best part of the story is that the spirit of the club is intact. It’s still a place where a millionaire can rock up and catch a game as easily as a local. It’s still a place where a visitor will be welcomed at the 19th hole for a yarn or two”.
Cox agrees, “We’ve always had keen regulars including our ladies’ mid-week golfers who have a blast… but now we’re out there in the community too. We’ve been able to take our SNAG golf gear (specially designed for kids) to school Lamb and Calf days and see them really get into it. We’ve got after school and holiday programmes with Kelly Sports and that gets the whole family involved”.
Says Naidu, “Gone are the days when Dad trekked off for the day to play golf with the boys at some exclusive club, leaving Mum with the kids. We’re parents, we’re all working harder, we’re taking the kids to sport in the weekends. Nine holes is a perfect break – you can be done in two hours and you’ll have enjoyed every minute of it. And while the new course is great for beginners it offers some brilliant challenges for the experienced golfer too”.
Cox adds, “We have members who bring the whole family and members who take turns and members who do both. We have a thriving membership from all walks of life… some who don’t even play anymore but come to enjoy the sense of community and a great place to catch up with mates”.
It really is a special place. “Yes”, says Cox. “We’re a country course”. “Not a country club”, interjects Naidu as they share a laugh. “Look”, says Naidu, “Where else are you going to get such great value? Our Casual Golfer rate offers 10 rounds, your handicap, full NZ Golf