Classic country golf club

Patutahi Golf Club has rich and colourful history

Patutahi Golf Club has rich and colourful history

NOW AND THEN: Two similar shots 42 years apart at Patutahi Golf Club. Right, teeing off shortly before the new clubhouse was officially opened in 1974 is Garry Bennett and his playing group of (from left) Noel Morrow, Jim Nicholas and Ray McGovern. See next photo for the 2016 version.

Picture from Herald files
Left, Selwyn Pohatu at about the same spot as the previous picture in 2016. Also pictured are (from left) club president Tony Green, Dave Skudder, Dean Pohatu and Butch McKenzie (at back) and Carl Newman.

Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
WE HAVE LIFT OFF: The Patutahi Domain grandstand roof is lifted off, transported a short distance and (next photo) placed on the new Patutahi clubhouse in 1973. The clubhouse was officially opened for the start of the 1974 season. Forty-two years on, the course has undergone a significant transformation around a clubhouse that has changed very little.

File picture

SHOULD have brought the clubs. That’s the first thought as I steer the Herald car into the Patutahi Golf Club driveway. The weather gods have ingested a couple of happy pills and are skipping hand in hand across lush green fairways under a blue-blanket sky singing You Are My Sunshine.

It’s busy. About 20 cars are parked up, players on the practice putting green are dreaming of birdies and several groups are chasing them on the course proper.

This is Friday afternoon at the Tahi. They call it the meat pack nine-hole stableford and it has become a major weekly event on the club calendar. No wonder. What would you rather be doing to end the working week — staring hypnotically at a computer screen as time passes slower than five-o’clock Auckland traffic or trying to emulate Lydia Ko with a pot of amber liquid gold at the end of the rainbow?

History drips from the clubhouse. Even the roof has its own story to tell. It belonged to the grandstand that stood on the old Patutahi Domain where the course was first developed nearly 80 years ago. The roof was transported a short distance by a Monk Bros crane in 1973 and placed on to a freshly erected 1500-square-foot building — marking one of the last major acts of a project that launched a new era for Patutahi Golf Club.

The first era

The first era teed off in 1934 when a basic course was fashioned over several farms at nearby Mantle Hill. It shifted to Tangihanga Station in 1936 then to the Domain in 1937.

About 50 enthusiastic members endured dreadful underfoot conditions, exacerbated over winter by cattle grazed by a farmer who was not particularly sympathetic to golfers’ needs. Membership increased to 80 over three years, although they still had to put up with the mud and a rudimentary “clubhouse” — basically a room under the grandstand.

The club went into recess over the war years and reopened in 1947. Flooding forced a one-season relocation to a hastily prepared farm course. More flooding and regular damage from cattle over ensuing years saw membership dwindle.

The committee bit the bullet in 1956 and paid for grazing to be restricted to sheep. The following year the course had its first hole-in-one — Martin Hogan immortalising himself in Patutahi’s history books. The ploughing of several greens for cropping forced the club into recess over 1962-63 but in 1965 new greens were laid as members tried to re-establish the course.

Mud was an ongoing problem. Many players chose to wear gumboots while playing. There were issues off the course as well. No power meant lighting was usually provided by car headlights or lamps.

Membership recovered in the late 1960s through an upsurge of interest in golf, allowing a general improvement of facilities without the budget being overstretched. By 1972 membership was capped at 130. A tractor was bought, drainage was improved, a sprinkler system was installed and new greens and tees were laid.

The clubhouse

Members then tackled the clubhouse issue. A project was established and following a substantial fundraising effort a clubhouse was built. Years of using lamps, car headlights or diesel generators for lighting ended when electricity was laid to the domain.

In March 1974, Patutahi officially opened its new clubhouse. Over 40 years later, there it remains. The clubhouse is virtually the same but the course has been significantly transformed. Gone are the fences that used to surround the greens to protect them from grazing sheep, also a thing of the past.

Patutahi now boasts a 5199-metre (4904 for women) track that, while not overly long or TPC Sawgrass-demanding, has plenty of character and a couple of potentially card-ruining holes. What the club is probably most proud of, though, is the overall standard. From tee to green, Patutahi has been developed into a quality course.

Credit for that lies on the hard-working shoulders of a crew of volunteers currently under the leadership of course convener Chris Parker. They are clearly proud of what they have achieved but, like many sports clubs these days, maintaining and attracting members is an ongoing challenge.

Patutahi has a special $150 membership deal for this summer, which is a great time for newcomers to try this addictive game, youngsters to start their journey towards Lydia Ko-like fame or former players to get back into the swing of things.

Lively atmosphere

Committee member Carl Newman, a relatively rookie golfer, says it is a great place to start while still providing a worthy test for the seasoned player.

An equally enticing aspect for Newman is the social side. He points to the regular shotgun-start weekends, where players go off at the same time from different tees, resulting in a convivial group convergence on the 19th.

And the 19th is what makes clubs like Patutahi extra special.

Whether it’s the pot luck dinner provided by the club after tournaments, or the almost inevitable sing-alongs as the aftermatch session heats up, it embodies all the traits of hospitality and atmosphere for which the quintessential country club is renowned.

There’s plenty of history on the walls — much of it in honours board names. The talented of the past and present have their names emblazoned in gold along with those who have contributed to the fabric of the club over the years. Fourteen of them were or are life members.

Many Patutahi players have represented Poverty Bay-East Coast at interprovincial level. They include Mark Weston, Tony Burns and the most prolific of the current stable — Tony Akroyd, who has worn the PBEC colours at junior and senior level for over 25 years.

The women, too, have enjoyed their success over the years, contributing many players to successful Poverty Bay and Northern Zone teams.

Recent history shows Patutahi winning the PBEC Oligoi Jug men’s interclub pennants title three years running. Patutahi broke a 15-year drought in winning this year’s Endeavour men’s handicap pennants title for the first time since 2001. Akroyd holds the men’s course record of 63. The women’s record is understood to be 69, held by Gaye Moore.

SHOULD have brought the clubs. That’s the first thought as I steer the Herald car into the Patutahi Golf Club driveway. The weather gods have ingested a couple of happy pills and are skipping hand in hand across lush green fairways under a blue-blanket sky singing You Are My Sunshine.

It’s busy. About 20 cars are parked up, players on the practice putting green are dreaming of birdies and several groups are chasing them on the course proper.

This is Friday afternoon at the Tahi. They call it the meat pack nine-hole stableford and it has become a major weekly event on the club calendar. No wonder. What would you rather be doing to end the working week — staring hypnotically at a computer screen as time passes slower than five-o’clock Auckland traffic or trying to emulate Lydia Ko with a pot of amber liquid gold at the end of the rainbow?

History drips from the clubhouse. Even the roof has its own story to tell. It belonged to the grandstand that stood on the old Patutahi Domain where the course was first developed nearly 80 years ago. The roof was transported a short distance by a Monk Bros crane in 1973 and placed on to a freshly erected 1500-square-foot building — marking one of the last major acts of a project that launched a new era for Patutahi Golf Club.

The first era

The first era teed off in 1934 when a basic course was fashioned over several farms at nearby Mantle Hill. It shifted to Tangihanga Station in 1936 then to the Domain in 1937.

About 50 enthusiastic members endured dreadful underfoot conditions, exacerbated over winter by cattle grazed by a farmer who was not particularly sympathetic to golfers’ needs. Membership increased to 80 over three years, although they still had to put up with the mud and a rudimentary “clubhouse” — basically a room under the grandstand.

The club went into recess over the war years and reopened in 1947. Flooding forced a one-season relocation to a hastily prepared farm course. More flooding and regular damage from cattle over ensuing years saw membership dwindle.

The committee bit the bullet in 1956 and paid for grazing to be restricted to sheep. The following year the course had its first hole-in-one — Martin Hogan immortalising himself in Patutahi’s history books. The ploughing of several greens for cropping forced the club into recess over 1962-63 but in 1965 new greens were laid as members tried to re-establish the course.

Mud was an ongoing problem. Many players chose to wear gumboots while playing. There were issues off the course as well. No power meant lighting was usually provided by car headlights or lamps.

Membership recovered in the late 1960s through an upsurge of interest in golf, allowing a general improvement of facilities without the budget being overstretched. By 1972 membership was capped at 130. A tractor was bought, drainage was improved, a sprinkler system was installed and new greens and tees were laid.

The clubhouse

Members then tackled the clubhouse issue. A project was established and following a substantial fundraising effort a clubhouse was built. Years of using lamps, car headlights or diesel generators for lighting ended when electricity was laid to the domain.

In March 1974, Patutahi officially opened its new clubhouse. Over 40 years later, there it remains. The clubhouse is virtually the same but the course has been significantly transformed. Gone are the fences that used to surround the greens to protect them from grazing sheep, also a thing of the past.

Patutahi now boasts a 5199-metre (4904 for women) track that, while not overly long or TPC Sawgrass-demanding, has plenty of character and a couple of potentially card-ruining holes. What the club is probably most proud of, though, is the overall standard. From tee to green, Patutahi has been developed into a quality course.

Credit for that lies on the hard-working shoulders of a crew of volunteers currently under the leadership of course convener Chris Parker. They are clearly proud of what they have achieved but, like many sports clubs these days, maintaining and attracting members is an ongoing challenge.

Patutahi has a special $150 membership deal for this summer, which is a great time for newcomers to try this addictive game, youngsters to start their journey towards Lydia Ko-like fame or former players to get back into the swing of things.

Lively atmosphere

Committee member Carl Newman, a relatively rookie golfer, says it is a great place to start while still providing a worthy test for the seasoned player.

An equally enticing aspect for Newman is the social side. He points to the regular shotgun-start weekends, where players go off at the same time from different tees, resulting in a convivial group convergence on the 19th.

And the 19th is what makes clubs like Patutahi extra special.

Whether it’s the pot luck dinner provided by the club after tournaments, or the almost inevitable sing-alongs as the aftermatch session heats up, it embodies all the traits of hospitality and atmosphere for which the quintessential country club is renowned.

There’s plenty of history on the walls — much of it in honours board names. The talented of the past and present have their names emblazoned in gold along with those who have contributed to the fabric of the club over the years. Fourteen of them were or are life members.

Many Patutahi players have represented Poverty Bay-East Coast at interprovincial level. They include Mark Weston, Tony Burns and the most prolific of the current stable — Tony Akroyd, who has worn the PBEC colours at junior and senior level for over 25 years.

The women, too, have enjoyed their success over the years, contributing many players to successful Poverty Bay and Northern Zone teams.

Recent history shows Patutahi winning the PBEC Oligoi Jug men’s interclub pennants title three years running. Patutahi broke a 15-year drought in winning this year’s Endeavour men’s handicap pennants title for the first time since 2001. Akroyd holds the men’s course record of 63. The women’s record is understood to be 69, held by Gaye Moore.

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