New 16th hole opens inside stopbank

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 13:24 01/12/2012
Manawatu Golf Club

EXPANSIVE NEW SWARD: John Bills, foreground, the first player to land a ball on the rebuilt 16th at the Manawatu Golf Club yesterday.

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For the first time since the Manawatu Golf Club was established in 1995, it will no longer be at the mercy of the Manawatu River.

The entire course is now protected by stopbanks.

The rebuilt 16th hole was opened with much ado yesterday and the stopbank now lies on the river side of the par-3 hole.

Previously the hole lay outside the stopbank. It was damaged on February 16, 2004 in the largest flood since 1902, and out of action for two months when the raging river flooded it.

Horizons Regional Council have also raised the height of the stopbanks by 0.7m along the entire length of the Hokowhitu course. That was part of the Albert Street to Fitzherbert Avenue realignment designed to protect Palmerston North from a 500-year flood.

On the 16th, only five redwood trees succumbed to the bulldozers.

Realignment of the 200 metres of stopbank along the border of the hole has cost Horizons about $95,000.

Stringfellows' bulldozers moved in to reshape the 16th in February. The old stopbank was removed and the green was dug up and laid out further inland.

The new hole might be easier for the club player because it now has only one bunker to negotiate instead of three, especially if the pin is on the left. The new bunker is cavernous and the hole's main strategy.

The 550 square metres green is a similar size to the previous one, which was a problem child - rebuilt in 1974, 1983 and 1998. The 16th was to be in play today with the old eighth put back in mothballs.

"It is a pretty good result for the club," said manager Michael Williams. "Having 19 holes has meant it hasn't been too much of an inconvenience."

Although many members enjoyed the old eighth, it restricted the practice fairway to 160 metres; now it can return to 230m.

Golf course architect Tommy Cushnahan designed the hole and said pins could be placed across the entire surface of the green.

"I quite liked the look of the old hole," he said. "It just didn't play very well. Now there is a lot more leeway for a missed shot. I'm very pleased with the way it has come up."

The hole measures 155m off the back championship tees, 131m off the men's club tees and 109m off the women's.

Former club president John Bills yesterday was the first player to land a ball on the green and Colin Southey was the first to land in the bunker.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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