New Zealand’s best golf clubs, golfing facilities, and people in the golfing industry – both on a voluntary and professional basis – have all been officially acknowledged for their outstanding work and contributions to the sport at the awards.
Golf New Zealand chief executive Jeff Latch said the common factor which emanated strongly from all award winners, and indeed all nominees, was their unconditional passion for the sport – and sharing that enthusiasm with the wider golfing community…. from weekend ‘hackers’ strolling down the fairways with their mates, through to elite and high-performance players.
“The fantastic thing about golf is that the sport provides for so many playing opportunities – and the 2023 National Golf Awards winners truly reflect this incredibly broad range of experiences, personnel, and locations,” said Jeff Latch.
“The high degrees of excellence and passionate commitment evidenced by all our winners shows that the sport of golf is in a very healthy state – from a grassroots level, out in provincial New Zealand, and right up to the pinnacle of high-performance golf on the international stages. This bodes extremely well for the sport in the future.”
Club of the Year Award: Pupuke Golf Club, Auckland
A progressive golf club which has taken a ‘corporate’ approach to its various activities – while still very much remaining locally community and member-focused – has taken out the Club of the Year Award.
Taking a long-term operational view, Pupuke Golf Club’s committee completed a strategic plan review which provided a refined and strengthened focus on how the club should not only position itself within the surrounding community, but also how it should market its golfing activities – ultimately creating a golfing ‘hub’ arching across multiple revenue generating streams.
Coming out of the review, Pupuke Golf Club on Auckland’s North Shore was one of the first golf clubs in the Greater Auckland region to participate in a multi-party green space enhancement initiative involving Auckland Council and the Department of Conservation (D.O.C) to improve the course’s natural environment.
Much of Pupuke Golf Club’s in-depth work in the environmental enhancement and partnerships space now forms the basis of North Golf’s case study, which many other clubs in the region have adopted as the basis for their similar plans. The Department of Conservation is also using its relationship with Pupuke Golf Club as a template for other clubs around the country to follow or adapt.
The success of Pupuke Golf Club’s natural landscaping enhancement and wildlife protection project enabled the club to give solid evidence in opposition to the Auckland Council Draft Investment Plan – supported by neighbourhood community organisations such as the Centennial Park Bush Society which administers a nature reserve adjoining the course.
Elsewhere within the club’s player number growth initiatives, Pupuke Golf Club was cited for its success in bringing scores of new players to the sport – particularly women. The club’s female-orientated Chip & Sip initiative for example was originally an eight-week summer twilight programme which signed up some 120 players running across three hour-long time slots at an entry level coaching fee of $27.50 per night. Pupuke’s Chip & Sip programme has subsequently been refined and will be running again this coming summer.
Throughout a dynamic period of change over recent years, Pupuke Golf Club’s management team held a number of face-to-face member engagement sessions to keep members fully briefed on where the club was heading… and why. This included utilising Harbour Sport’s ActivAsian team, which enabled the club to effectively engage with its sizeable Korean membership. This resulted in the club fostering and supporting a multicultural environment reflecting the local community demographic.
Targeting school-age golfers as part of its long-term membership funnel, Pupuke Golf Club’s management also instigated a raft of programmes establishing strong relationships with local primary and secondary schools – delivering specific ‘fit for purpose’ age and ability-appropriate sessions.
In 2022, Pupuke Golf Club won the Harcourts Cooper & Co. Harbour Sports Club of the Year for the North Harbour region.
Golf Administrator of the Year Award: Lucinda Searle
Searle only began working on a part-time basis at Taranaki Golf in the second quarter of last year– dedicating much of her attention towards raising the profile and appeal of golf in the participation space. She has directly worked with 11 of the 18 golf clubs in Taranaki, and has on average three volunteers actively assisting with new players per club.
Networking with schools, local golfing sector influencers, and regional sporting entities such as Sport Taranaki and the Taranaki Secondary Schools Sports Association to spread the word about golf, her efforts have seen the sport boom in Taranaki – particularly amongst children and women demographics.
Since Searle took on the role, junior golf membership numbers in Taranaki have increased by more than 35 percent – from 360 to 502 junior members. Some 68 young golfers attended the recent Taranaki Age Group Championship – up from 49 players in 2022 and 30 in 2021.
The list of other winners:
- Golf Performance of the Year Award: Lydia Ko
- All Abilities Golfer of the Year Award: Guy Harrison, Hawke’s Bay
- Volunteer of the Year Award: Brian Chapman, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
- Community Coach of the Year Award: Wiremu Neho, Whangarei Golf Club
- Professional Coach of the Year Award: Kevin Smith, Kapiti Coast.
- Environment Club of the Year Award: Paraparaumu Golf Club, Kapiti Coast
- Golfing Event of the Year Award: Flat Day Out at Pupuke Golf Club, Auckland