Harewood is a great advertisement for intelligent golf course renovations, something sadly too rare in New Zealand writes Phil Hamilton.
From the road the course doesn’t look too promising as the land is as flat as Christchurch Airport, which it borders, while the fairways look to be flanked by trees a la the typical Canterbury club course.
However, Greg Turner worked wonders to turn the old course into something special after the airport bought half of their second 18 (what was known as the new course) about 20 years ago.
Turner transformed the greens and approaches to make Harewood into a stimulating and exacting test of golf, giving it the best set of greens in Christchurch and among the very best in the country.
The humps and hollows around the greens make for a stern test of your short game, constantly calling for imaginative recovery shots.
He also culled many of the trees giving surprising width off the tee which is needed as the best angle into greens can change depending on the pin and the wind direction.
While the par 5s and 3s are very good, the real highlights are the short par 4s where Turner could really let his imagination run wild to create some unforgettable greens.
The second is an enticing, driveable par 4 with a wicked green, particularly when the pin is back left, where it’s possible to walk off with anything from a two to a seven.
But the fifth is probably the most polarising of the short 4s thanks to a diabolical green which illustrates Turner’s skill in turning a flat featureless hole into something truly memorable.
The green is is divided by a small valley that runs back to front, effectively creating two separate greens which are best approached from the opposite side of the fairway.
One side has a runway so a shot can be bounced in while the other must be flown the whole way to avoid a nasty dip, and it also plays half a club longer thanks to the slightly angled green.
Even with a wedge in hand it’s an intimidating shot knowing that a miss in the wrong place means an almost guaranteed three-putt or, even worse, a brutally hard chip.
The hole encapsulates the course’s strategic design with the golfer regularly asked to place their tee shot properly to make the next one easier while the line between triumph and disaster is very fine.