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Golf: Sad About Oreti Sands

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

Logan Savory writes, “The Southland Golf Club and their Oreti Sands golf course are at the risk of closure if the club's finances cannot be boosted.”

The following excerpt from my as yet unpublished Going to Godzone – A Golf Odyssey should explain a lot about why I’m feeling sad about the possibility of Oreti Sands closing.

Oreti Sands and the end of my Odyssey
In preparation for leaving home in 1966 I frequently said to myself, "If nothing else is better, at least the weather has to be better." Therefore I continue to find it hard to believe that the early Scottish settlers chose the far south of the South Island, New Zealand as the land of their dreams. But there again I have to admit to having a very negative attitude about the weather in Scotland but in truth and having travelled extensively since 1966 I constantly hear reports of how, "We went there and hardly had a drop of rain or bad weather."  At first I thought they were just being kind and respectful of my home country but now there's far too many who have told me of their good experience of the weather in Scotland.

Southernmost links course in the world
Oreti Sands at the Southland Golf Club is the southernmost 18-hole links golf course in the world at 46.5 South; note that Seattle has a similar northerly latitude and that Oreti Sands is 18 holes and it's a links-style golf course and therefore this excludes the wee course at Scott Base Country Club run by the New Zealand Antarctic Programme which is a mere 13 degrees above the South Pole. And its creation further evidence of the fact that golfers in Godzone are just as mad as us Scots about playing golf and those very same Kiwis frequently remind this ex-pat Scot that New Zealand has just about as many, if not more golf courses than Scotland.

My visit to Oreti Sands was the culmination of many years of travelling, writing and working on my artistic impressions of golf courses in several parts of the world. Now at last I was there on a sunny February morning with hardly a soul on the course except for a regular Friday morning threesome and a solitary person on the practice ground.

A truly Hidden gem
Elsewhere on a golf blog I wrote that a golf acquaintance described Oreti Sands as, "New Zealand's answer to Carnoustie". Alas Carnasty it is not. It's much more forgiving with wide fairways, fewer bunkers but nevertheless the water in front of "Oue" is every bit as intimidating as Carnoustie's Barry Burn.

The origin of many Maori place names is obscure however it's been suggested that Oreti may mean, "A snare at yonder place" and that the hole called "Oue" is named after a local Maori tribe. ‘Oue’ is only a wee par-3 but beware of being trapped into thinking that yonder pond is not a threat.

Had I not known the source of the following review of Oreti Sands I'd have used the commonly used Kiwi expression, "Yeah right!" It's the Kiwi way of expressing doubt and disbelief when being asked to buy into a suggestion. Like I should drive all the way down to Invercargill and a wee bit beyond! The source is none other than John Huggan who I have described elsewhere as, "A sometimes scathing Scottish golf correspondent" who I happen to like since he's not a spin doctor and tells it like he sees it. John says, "Oreti Sands was particularly enjoyable and incredibly good value for money.  In fact, this remote and dramatic course has the potential to be that ever-elusive 'hidden gem' you read about in the glossy travel magazines.  Such is the quality and variety of an endless stream of interesting and challenging holes.  Go there soon; this is a great place to play golf." (Source May 2005 issue of New Zealand Golf Magazine).

Link to Logan Savory

Thought for the Day
"This is definitely a hidden gem. I really enjoyed walking the course. The changes being made should lift it to another level. – Peter Senior


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