History of the Club
The Early Years
The Waipu Golf Club was formed in 1934 at the instigation of Messrs. D.H. McKay and A.H. Rees, both of whom had played the game in other districts. About 30 members were recruited and play started on the property of A.W. McKay on the Braigh Road. D.H. McKay was the first president and A.H. Rees the first secretary and club captain.
The paddocks became very wet in the winter so two years later nine holes were laid out on the farm of Mr Rod McAulay near the Waipu River bridge. Members continued to play there until 1954. Among the stalwarts of the club in those days was Mr D.J. McLeod who, though over 60, learned to play the game and continued it for many years. Others were Messrs. D.R. Mackay and J.R. McKay who both played until past 80 years.
On The Brynderwyns
For 12 years from the mid 1950s to the mid 60s the club played on Mr Murdoch McLean's property on the lower slopes of the Brynderwyns adjacent to State Highway One. Mr McLean's cooperation enabled golf to survive in the area. Prominent members at this time included Ian and Joan Matheson who for many years were club captain and secretary respectively.
The New Course
From 1966 the Waipu Golf Club has occupied 52 hectares of coastal land between Waipu and Ruakaka. The course extends down to the dunes of Uretiti Beach on Bream Bay and boasts magnificent views of the bay and the offshore islands.
The club has to thank farsighted executive members such as A.J. Finlayson, president at the time of the change, for their vision. The Hon D.N. McKay played a major part by achieving a lease on this crown land, with the right to purchase after five years. There was active support from most of the club's eighty members who used chainsaws, slashers and bare hands to clear fairways and subscribed to non-interest bearing debentures for development work. A lot of development was undertaken, at very favourable rates to the club, by Somners Ltd., whose heavy machinery proved invaluable.
Nine holes were developed for a start (the present 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 16th, 17th, and 18th) and members paused for lunch before going round the second time. Sheep were grazed for a short time and dairy cows were wintered on Nos 10 and 15 fairways. Then a 12 hole course incorporating Nos 10, part of 14 and then 15 was played briefly, followed by the move to 18 holes. The layout had been planned right from the start by Mr H.G. Babbage, a golf course architect. We still play the course to his plan with only minor variations.
Into The 1990's
Over the past 25 years many improvements have been made. One of the first was to replace the wee clubhouse that we had brought from the Brynderwyns (see the painting hanging in the clubhouse). Many members worked on the new structure with the late George Gauron as "Clerk of Works". There was reticulation of water to greens and tees. In 1987 - 1988 the clubhouse was extended, in 1989 a covered area added to the southeast side of the clubhouse and in 1990 a new tractor and gang mowers purchased.
By 1998 a major course development programme had been commenced. It started with the felling of many old pine trees and is continuing with the establishment of "Black" tees, and the development of further bunkers and grassed mounds and new greens. Upgrading of course machinery and the irrigation system are also under way.
Our most prominent golfer of the 1960's was Jack Connell who had previously represented Northland with distinction. In the 1970's Anne Butler (nee Berry) regularly achieved Northland honours and was a New Zealand trialist. In the mid 1980's Julie McConnell played out of Waipu for a short time and represented Northland. Since 1988 Margaret Aston has been a regular Northland representative (12 of the last 13 years). Margaret currently has the ladies' best score of 70. The men's best score ("Blue" tees) of 67 is held jointly by four golfers - Marcus Wheelhouse, Glen Goldfinch, Phil Hunter and Terry Pulman. The first two set this score in the Bream Bay Classic in a year when five of the six man New Zealand team competed.
The Classic has become recognised as one of the major men's tournaments on the Northland - North Harbour - Auckland circuit since its inception in 1987. In 1993 the tournament was extended to 54 holes. Over the years no golfer has approached the success in this event of Kevin Billington who has carried off the trophy many times. Waipu Golf Club teams have achieved success in most of the Pennants competitions and other team events staged by the Northland Men's and Women's Associations. Perhaps our most notable season has been 1999 - 2000 when the men's team won both the Northland "A" Grade Pennants (matchplay) and the Northland final of the "Montana" Interclub Challange (the top teams strokeplay competition in Northland).
Constitution of the Club