Establishing a world-class golf course near Ōhau would be the realisation of a dream for one of New Zealand's most successful businessmen.
Hamish Edwards, whose wealth was estimated at $265 million last year, wants to build an 18-hole links course on coastal land north of Ōhau River.
The type of investment planned is unheralded in Horowhenua, with the course and associated amenities estimated to cost as much as $50m.
Edwards, who co-founded accounting software company Xero, only started playing golf 10 years ago and "instantly fell in love with the game".
"It's more than just a game. It's spending time with friends. It's also a lesson in humility. One minute you can be great, the next minute ... terrible," he said.
"And when you are standing on the tee, it's your turn to be there."
It was on a trip to Ireland and the experience of playing on courses more than 200 years old that he hatched the idea to develop a links course in New Zealand.
"I came back to New Zealand and started looking for land that would be suitable for a traditional links golf course," he said in a resource consent application lodged with Horizons regional council.
"We believe we could possibly build a golf course that will be rated as a top 100 golf courses in the world."
The course would be named Douglas Links in honour of his late father, Douglas Edwards. The name Douglas was given to the firstborn son in each generation of the Edwards family.
Edwards said the course would be for all levels of golf players and a huge asset to the local region.
"The Douglas Links will be a golf course for all New Zealanders. It will be fairly priced and available for all to play. We will not build an exclusive golf course for wealthy overseas tourists," he said.
"I want the guest experience to be welcoming, fun, relaxing, and inclusive for all levels of golfer."
Edwards said Douglas Links would be a walking-only golf course - no golf carts - and would have limited man-made objects on the course.
"We want the land to look pure and natural," he said.
"I have huge respect for the land at Ōhau and see this as much an ecology and sustainability project to restore and revitalise the land and its ecosystem as
I do about building a world-class golf experience for my guests."
Edwards said Douglas Links will be an eco-led golf course complete with a clubhouse and driving range.
Also included in the design were a four-bedroom home, 10 two-bedroom single-storey accommodation units, two maintenance sheds, and horse stables. A noticeable feature of design illustrations was how buildings blended with the landscapes.
"In the construction of all build buildings at the Douglas Links we will endeavour to be eco-led and consider sustainably in selecting construction materials," he said.
"We will include modest accommodation for up to 40 people so they might stay for an evening and enjoy the wonderful views of the land, river, and sea from our clubhouse.
"The food we serve in the clubhouse will be locally sourced, possibly grown on site and will showcase what the region has to offer. From olive oil to local wine."
Should the course get the go-ahead, a significant amount of this capital spend in the initial two-to-three year period would go into the local economy, employing local people and local contractors, he said.
The total cost to build the course, restore the dunes, remove all exotic species from the land, build the clubhouse and accommodation was estimated to cost between $40-50m.
"The Douglas Links will not make massive profits and what profits we do make will be reinvested into the preservation of the land," he said.
Almost two years of planning had already gone into Douglas Links, with a non-notified application for resource consent lodged by Grenadier Ltd in 2020 with Horowhenua District Council, which granted approval to some aspects of the application late last year.
Grenadier Ltd had employed a large team of experts to support an application for Resource Consent with Horizons Regional Council, with a two-day hearing held earlier this week in Levin.