Taieri Classic

Images from the AmAm held on the first day of the Taieri Classic, held at the Taieri Lakes Golf Course.

A brief history of the Taieri Classic printed in the ODT a few years back.

A good golf course is a great asset to the nation’
By Winston Cooper

“A good golf course is a great asset to the nation. Those who harangue against land being diverted from agriculture and used for golf have little sense of proportion. Comparing the small amount of land utilised for golf with the large amount devoted to agriculture, we get infinitely more value out of the former than the latter.”

Those words were written more than 80 years ago, after World War 1, by Dr Alister Mackenzie, the famous medical practitioner who gave up medicine to practise a more fruitful pursuit — designing golf courses.

But to say Dr Mackenzie designed golf courses is like saying Rembrandt painted pictures: it is something of an understatement.

Dr Mackenzie’s course credits include Pebble Beach and Cypress Point on California’s Monterey Peninsula; Augusta National, home of the US Masters; a jewel on Melbourne’s famed sandbelt, Royal Melbourne; and a fine pair in New Zealand, Titirangi and the Wellington Golf Club’s Heretaunga.

Without exception, his courses were regarded as great assets, monuments to the architect’s desire to combine elements of natural beauty, variety, playability, constant challenge, reward and penalty that leave a lingering wish to return and try again.

The good doctor’s philosophies influenced many of his successors, including Commander John Harris, the man who, with the assistance of Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge, designed the Taieri Golf Club’s course at Milners Rd, North Taieri. In 1967, he had a vision of what was possible on a piece of farmland and set about turning the vision into reality.
Sadly, he did not live to see his creation come to maturity. He died 10 years after the first 14 holes were laid out to his plans, before the designs he had drawn up for the other four holes had been implemented.

But he would have been well pleased with the finished product, with the trees reaching their full height, the fairways well defined and the greens settling.
Commander Harris’ creation is already a valuable asset. It will continue to improve, with careful management and nurturing guaranteeing a pleasant vista and a constant challenge to golfers of all persuasions.

The attraction of the Taieri Golf Club’s course has helped make the Taieri Classic a tournament that draws a strong entry. There have been some luminary invited guests over the 16 years of its existence, starting with Philip Tataurangi, who became something of a regular before he switched to playing for pay.
In 1992, after winning the Eisenhower Trophy in Canada, Tataurangi turned out at Taieri with Michael Campbell, New Zealand Amateur champion Richard Lee and a host of other well-performed golfers to win one of his last amateur events.

Lee returned the next year to win it himself, then Martin Pettigrew won the event three times in a row before he too turned professional.

There was no more popular winner than Stephen Morshuis, in 2002. The former Taieri clubman made an annual pilgrimage home from Australia in support of the tournament in which he was a constant threat, three times gaining a top-3 spot before breaking through. He is back this year and who would bet against him?