Horowhenua Chronicle

Dream course planned

World-class golf course near Ōhau proposed

- Paul Williams

Establishi­ng a world-class golf course near O¯ hau would be the realisatio­n of a dream for one of New Zealand’s most successful businessme­n. Hamish Edwards, whose wealth was estimated at $265 million last year, wants to build an 18-hole links course on coastal land north of O¯ hau River.

The type of investment planned is unheralded in Horowhenua, with the course and associated amenities estimated to cost as much as $50m.

Edwards, who co-founded accounting software company Xero, only started playing golf 10 years ago and “instantly fell in love with the game”.

“It’s more than just a game. It’s spending time with friends. It’s also a lesson in humility. One minute you can be great, the next minute . . . terrible,” he said.

“And when you are standing on the tee, it’s your turn to be there.”

It was on a trip to Ireland and the experience of playing on courses more than 200 years old that he hatched the idea to develop a links course in New Zealand.

“I came back to New Zealand and started looking for land that would be suitable for a traditiona­l links golf course,” he said in a resource consent applicatio­n lodged with Horizons regional council.

“We believe we could possibly build a golf course that will be rated as a top 100 golf courses in the world.”

The course would be named Douglas Links in honour of his late father, Douglas Edwards. The name Douglas was given to the firstborn son in each generation of the Edwards family.

Edwards said the course would be for all levels of golf players and a huge asset to the local region.

“The Douglas Links will be a golf course for all New Zealanders. It will be fairly priced and available for all to play. We will not build an exclusive golf course for wealthy overseas tourists,” he said.

“I want the guest experience to be welcoming, fun, relaxing, and inclusive for all levels of golfer.”

Edwards said Douglas Links would be a walking-only golf course — no golf carts — and would have limited man-made objects on the course.

“We want the land to look pure and natural,” he said.

“I have huge respect for the land at O¯ hau and see this as much an ecology and sustainabi­lity project to restore and revitalise the land and its ecosystem as I do about building a world-class golf experience for my guests.”

Edwards said Douglas Links will be an eco-led golf course complete with a clubhouse and driving range.

Also included in the design were a four-bedroom home, 10 twobedroom single-storey accommodat­ion units, two maintenanc­e sheds, and horse stables. A noticeable feature of design illustrati­ons was how buildings blended with the landscapes.

“In the constructi­on of all build buildings at the Douglas Links we will endeavour to be eco-led and consider sustainabl­y in selecting constructi­on materials,” he said.

“We will include modest accommodat­ion for up to 40 people so they might stay for an evening and enjoy the wonderful views of the land, river, and sea from our clubhouse.

“The food we serve in the clubhouse will be locally sourced, possibly grown on site and will showcase what the region has to offer. From olive oil to local wine.”

Should the course get the goahead, a significan­t amount of this capital spend in the initial two-tothree year period would go into the local economy, employing local people and local contractor­s, he said.

The total cost to build the course, restore the dunes, remove all exotic species from the land, build the clubhouse and accommodat­ion was estimated to cost between $40-50m.

“The Douglas Links will not make massive profits and what profits we do make will be reinvested into the preservati­on of the land,” he said.

Almost two years of planning had already gone into Douglas Links, with a non-notified applicatio­n for resource consent lodged by Grenadier Ltd in 2020 with Horowhenua District Council, which granted approval to some aspects late last year.

Grenadier Ltd had employed a large team of experts to support an applicatio­n for Resource Consent with Horizons Regional Council, with a two-day hearing held earlier this week in Levin.

 ?? Photo/ Michael Thomas / www.photosport.nz ?? Hamish Edwards in action at The Hills golf course during day one of the ISPS Handa NZ Open, Arrowtown, 2018.
Photo/ Michael Thomas / www.photosport.nz Hamish Edwards in action at The Hills golf course during day one of the ISPS Handa NZ Open, Arrowtown, 2018.

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