Dunedin is blessed with three top-class 18 hole golf courses Otago (Balmacewen), St Clair and Chisholm Park, all deservedly top 50 ranked courses, plus the popular Taieri Lakes.
Seve Ballesteros, Sam Snead, Johnny Miller, Bob Charles, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Jan Stephenson are just some of the world-class names that graced St. Clair Golf Club’s lush green fairways during the golden decade of the 1970’s when it hosted the prestigious Otago Charity Classic for nine years.
It has hosted many national events including the N.Z. Open and has been home to the South Island Amateur Strokeplay Champs since 2013.
Back in those halcyon days for golf clubs, St. Clair was the one to play, with new applicants having to wait up to three years for full membership.
While those days may be gone, the superb layout, tranquil situation and now much more spectacular views remain. Last year 600 pine trees were removed and some of the views are 360 degrees and simply stunning.
However, the essential character of the course still remains, with pine trees still standing guard providing definition on most holes.
Nestled atop the cliffs above St. Clair, the views spanning the beautiful Otago Harbour, St Kilda and St Clair beaches, the southern ocean, then from the famous 15th tee 100 kilometres south to Nugget Point and the Catlins Coast, then finally the hills and city south to Saddle Hill are in a word breathtaking.
In fact, visitors from the U.S.A. have been known to rate the whole experience as better than Pebble Beach. The visitors book is a testimony to St. Clair’s charm.
The club facilities are excellent with the café that was created on the ground floor of the clubhouse a very popular improvement. Open every day it is an inviting 19th.
The large upstairs lounge and bar is a fine venue for large functions from weddings and conferences to quiz nights. The practice area is being developed and includes a driving range, practice bunkers and large putting green.
The course itself remains a fair and varied challenge. At under 6,000 metres from the Championship tees it is no penal monster but rewards good golf. With five sets of tees everyone is catered for.
Another major drawcard for the club is the Pro Shop. It would be difficult to imagine a better stocked Pro Shop. The range of everything a golfer could require is extensive.
The man behind this is Patrick Moore who took on the position as Club Professional three years ago. He transformed the formerly sparsely stocked Pro shop within days and then last year revamped it adding 40% more space for stock.
While many clubs throughout New Zealand are supposedly struggling with falling membership according to some doom merchants, this is not the case in Dunedin where St Clair is more than holding its own.
With management that seems to be in tune with what is required for a successful club and a course with character in spades, it is not difficult to smell the roses at St Clair.
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