Despite humble beginnings, the Arrowtown Golf Club has established a first-class course that is widely regarded as one of the finest country courses in New Zealand.
The club's early origins date back to 1911, when a six-hole course was constructed just beyond the Arrowtown Borough boundary. The club's members demonstrated great enthusiasm, with it being commonplace to witness a lady member mowing the greens using a hand mower. While this club was later disbanded, a new club was formed in 1935, consisting of 12 individuals who procured 90 acres of land along the Arrowtown-Arrow Junction Road.
The course's development was a laborious process, carried out with rakes, wheelbarrows, and hand mowers, with its maintenance ultimately falling to the members. The resultant nine-hole course, opened in 1936, is now recognized as one of the most picturesque in the country, featuring elevated terrain interlaced with trees and surrounded by mountains.
The original clubrooms, an outbuilding belonging to the Anglican Church, were procured for the Arrowtown Golf Club at the nominal cost of £15.00.
In 1946, the club sought affiliation with the New Zealand Golf Association, and this was granted the following year in 1947.
The existing clubhouse was constructed during the period of 1956-1957, with voluntary labor supplied by the members.
In 1971, the club acquired and developed 53 acres of leasehold land located across the road from the nine-hole course. This was integrated into the existing course, creating a remarkable 18-hole course that stands out in terms of quality. The course's design was guided by Mr. B.V. Wright, who, alongside Mr. Reg Romans, was responsible for creating the original nine holes. Mr. Romans, the club's secretary at the time, went overseas with the 23rd Battalion of the 2nd NZEF and was subsequently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Sadly, Mr. Romans passed away from wounds sustained during the campaign in Italy in 1948.
Originally, the Arrowtown Golf Club purchased water for its course from the Ministry of Works Irrigation. However, they now obtain it from a creek flowing down from Crown Terrace, which is then gravity-fed to the course. The course has undergone significant developments in recent years, including a complete irrigation project for fairways and greens in 2001, which has greatly improved the playing experience. Additionally, the clubhouse was upgraded at that time, and now offers breathtaking views of the front nine and the surrounding mountains.
Currently, the club is constructing new tees and renovating existing ones to enhance and strengthen the course even further. They are also planning to develop new greens in the near future and are working on an overall course plan to support future course developments. The acquisition of new machinery in recent years has been crucial in establishing the course as a top-notch golfing experience.
The Arrowtown Golf Club is situated on land which was originally settled by the Shanahan family.
1879 - 1965
Thomas Shanahan was born in 1879 and resided in the Shanahan cottage (situated at the 11th hole on the Arrowtown Golf Course) until 1899 when, with 12 other young men, he sought selection to represent the Lake District at the Boer War.
On winning selection he was given a bridle, a saddle and his fare to Dunedin where he joined the Otago Mounted Rifles. He served as a "Rough Rider" in South Africa until the end of 1901.
On his return, Thomas joined the New Zealand Police as Superintendent of Police of the Christchurch District in 1944. Thomas died in 1965 aged 86 years.