A spate of sub-par golf shots colliding with cars on a motorway has led Auckland Council to close three holes of a suburban course.
The council said there had been several instances of errant swings from Chamberlain Park Golf Course resulting in balls smashing into cars travelling on the North-Western Motorway.
A statement issued by the council, which owns the Mt Albert course, described the ban as temporary.
But it said the danger posed by wayward drives was “extreme”.
“The risk has been assessed as extreme as it is likely to result in serious harm or fatalities which has led to the closure.”
The temporary closure of the 5th, 12th and 14th holes reduces the public course to an unconventional 15 holes, raising questions about how the handicapping system will cope.
Kim O’Neill, Auckland Council community facilities acting general manager, said most of the errant swings damaged car body work, but in one case a ball smashed into a windscreen.
“Until we can work out a long-term practical solution the best thing to do to ensure public safety is to close the three holes,” she said.
Three incidents were reported in as many months, from December 2020 to February 2021.
Measures were earlier taken to reduce the risk of stray shots landing on the motorway, including moving trees, made on the advice of a golf specialist.
No incidents were recorded from March to November 2020, but the recent spate showed the measures were not working, the council said.
Albert-Eden Local Board, which governs Chamberlain Park, will make the final decision on the best way forward after receiving a report from Auckland Council’s community facilities department.
Ian Scofield, a professional based at Chamberlain Park, said the issue was not a new one. He was philosophical about the closure.
“It’s been going on for a long time, we’ve just had a bad spate recently.
“It’s a difficult situation.”
Covid related influx
Scofield said the spike in errant swingers was down to an influx of new golfers following the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Options for addressing the issue could include netting or changing the layout of the holes in question, he said.
Club management was also looking into how the handicapping system would deal with the course’s temporary reduction to 15 holes.
The course lies on prime real estate ten minutes west of the central city.
It was subject to a bitter five-year battle over a contro
versial proposal to re-develop the course, halving it from 18-holes to nine.
Late in 2019, the Albert-Eden Local Board voted to reverse the 2015 decision which would have seen the Mt Albert course reduced, with the addition of two reserves.