Local focus: The state of golf in Whanganui

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Golf Clubs

Limit restrictions mean more people are playing on Whanganui Golf Club’s Belmont golf course, but they still need players.

Wanganui Golf Club has seen an increase in local and visiting players despite its closure due to bans.

Club President John Maslin said it would be good if the surge continued, but once the international borders are open, “these people will likely go on vacation abroad as they always will”.

“Our membership has shrunk, that’s our next challenge. What do we do? How do we get members and people to play golf?”

The club’s Belmont Golf Course has been a social hub for 125 years and is currently rated as one of the top 20 golf courses in New Zealand.

Like most clubs across the country, it relies on volunteers.

Volunteer coordinator Ron Hussey said 2012 was the toughest year thanks to a major storm.

“It shattered the square and trees all over the square,” he said.

“It was closed for 23 weeks so we all got together.

“The people with chainsaws came here and started cleaning up. It took months and months until we had everything tidied up.

“Then the group just said, ‘Well, why don’t we just keep going?’ That’s why we’ve met weekly since 2012. “

In a fire in 2001, the original clubhouse was razed to the ground and a new one with rented event rooms was converted.

Although it brings additional income, the club had to think creatively to supplement its income by planting and harvesting pine trees.

The original practice area has been subdivided for real estate, with a number of coveted house spots overlooking the plaza.

Maslin said the money was necessary to keep the club going.

Golf clubs today have an exception or two to contend with, he said.

“It’s a real balancing act, because a few years ago the club still had 1,000 members, well before my time, and it was really buzzing.

“Over time, our membership has decreased.”

He said golf is “a game of fractures”.

“You can enjoy it by being able to hit the ball well and consistently, or you can stumble around like a stranded whale hitting nothing consistently and wonder why you are doing this.

“It’s a game that can turn your head.

“Maybe that’s the masochist in all of us, it keeps pulling us back.

“You can have a really bad lap and say, ‘Damn, I won’t give in to that,’ so you come back and beat yourself up again next week.

“But that’s the beauty of the game in a strange way. It’s wonderful.”