One of New Zealand’s most popular public golf courses will undergo a $1.1m makeover to reduce the hazard of balls being hit onto a neighbouring motorway.
Chamberlain Park Golf Course in the heart of central Auckland hosts over 1,000 rounds per week and is one of just two public courses in the region, providing an option for golfers who don’t want to or can’t pay to join a private club.
But its proximity to the adjoining Northwestern Motorway means there has been an “extreme” risk of golf balls leaving the course and endangering traffic.
A preferred option has now been approved by the local board for three new greens to improve safety by directing play away from the adjoining motorway, while also creating space for a new neighbourhood reserve to be developed on the western side of the course, retaining the course’s 18 holes. Work will commence in 2024 with a total funding of $1.1m budgeted across four years for the renewal of assets at Chamberlain Park.
It comes after in 2020 Auckland Council and the golf course operator were made aware of several incidents of vehicles travelling on the Northwestern Motorway being struck by golf balls causing damage to the vehicles, including one incident where a vehicle windscreen was damaged.
Three holes were closed in April 2021, reducing the golf course from 18 holes to 15 holes. A trajectory report was commissioned in February of that year and the holes that were considered the most risk from golf balls leaving the course were holes number 5, 12 and 14 which all bounded the Northwestern Motorway.
Temporary greens were then created to change the direction of play away from the motorway, reducing risk. These temporary greens have remained in place.
Concurrently, in October 2019 the local board resolved to create a new neighbourhood park at the western end of Chamberlain Park, which requires the reconfiguration of the golf course.
The option that has been approved would retain a reconfigured 18-hole golf course (par 67) and create the new neighbourhood park to the west of Waitītikō/Meola Creek which would restore the ecological values of the creek and enhance walking and cycling connections.
The December 6 local board report said: “The risk of golf balls leaving the golf course and entering the neighbouring Northwestern Motorway cannot be totally mitigated, but moving the greens to new locations to draw the line of play away from the adjoining motorway will reduce the risk from extreme to moderate/high.”
Several options were presented to the local board at workshops in April and November 2023 to address the motorway hazard. This included the installation of new safety fencing, creation of new greens, a mix of fencing and a new green, and a staged approach of new greens but including the opportunity to move holes to enable the future development of the neighbourhood park.