John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Club pushes for golf guide inclusion

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Mount Maunganui Golf Club general manager Keith Fullerton is putting in a case for the course to be included in the Great New Zealand Golf Guide. Photo / Andrew Warner
Mount Maunganui Golf Club general manager Keith Fullerton is putting in a case for the course to be included in the Great New Zealand Golf Guide. Photo / Andrew Warner

Mount Maunganui Golf Club is making a late pitch to be included in a new publication designed to lure more international golfing tourists to New Zealand.

Dismay that none of the Western Bay's five championship courses had been included in the Great New Zealand Golf Guide led to Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith seeking an explanation from Tourism New Zealand which compiled the list for publisher AA Traveller.

Mt Maunganui Golf Course. Photo/file
Mt Maunganui Golf Course. Photo/file

It opened up a channel of communication that resulted in the Mount Maunganui club being able to put forward its case to be included in the guide, following an earlier misunderstanding by a former club official.

Club general manager Keith Fullerton said they were waiting to see if they fitted the criteria for selection. "If we do, that is great ... we are quietly confident."

The Bay of Plenty Times opened up the issue when it was told by AA Traveller that two of the region's golf courses had been selected for the guide - Ohope and Rotorua.

Bay of Plenty Golf chief executive Chris McAlpine responded that he found it strange that none of the Western Bay's top-rated courses had been included. He understood the attraction of Ohope's "gem" of a golf links and the thermal experience of the Rotorua course.

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But he said it was an injustice not to include the Mount Maunganui or Tauranga courses in the list of 28 that offered a "New Zealand experience". The guide, due out in June, will also feature 12 "marquee" courses like Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs.

The Western Bay's other championship courses were Omanu, Omokoroa and Te Puke. Mr McAlpine said Omokoroa had such panoramic harbour views that it was hard to concentrate on playing golf and Te Puke was a beautiful country-styled course.

Mount Maunganui club president Ray Horsfall said he was mystified why their course had not been selected. "Our green fee income is one of the highest in the country."

He said they did not get many golfers off cruise ships because of the issue of on-board marketing, but being in the guide would boost their chances of tapping into that market.

Mr Fullerton said the courses chosen for the guide offered something that reflected the culture and environment of New Zealand. He argued that the Mount's fairways followed the old sand dunes, the course was a block from the beach and it featured the amazing backdrop of Mauao. He said they already attracted a lot of international golfers, with heaps of Canadians coming over to get away from the winter.

Mr Arrowsmith said the question for inclusion in the guide was whether the golf course offered a uniquely Kiwi experience backed up by top facilities.

Tourism New Zealand spokeswoman Christine Adair said they were happy to talk with interested golf courses about inclusion in the guide, and to take them through the assessment process. The guide will join AA Traveller's other free niche titles, including the New Zealand Cycle Trails Guide.

Nearest Golf Courses to Tauranga selected for the Great NZ Golf Guide:

* Ohope International Golf Club

* Rotorua Golf Club

* Taupo Golf Club

* Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary

* The Kinloch Club

- Bay of Plenty Times

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