Australian golfing great Peter Thomson, who has died aged 88, had a close relationship with the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

Waikanae resident Jim Wallace, who wrote book Golf at The Links, which looks at the history of the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club from 1949 to 1999, said Thomson was a well-liked figure who featured regularly at the course.

"He was a terrific player and a great gentleman who would talk to people while walking down the fairways.

"And he was a real ambassador for the game."


Thomson won the Caltex tournament at the course in 1955, 1959, 1965, 1966 tied with Kel Nagle and 1967 tied with Sir Bob Charles.

He was a nine time New Zealand Open champion including in 1959 when the championship was held at the course.

Moreover Thomson, and Nagle, a fellow Australian golfer and friend, did a lot of promotion for the course via exhibition matches not long after it opened in 1949.

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club general manager Leo Barber said Thomson was an honorary member of the club along with Nagle, who passed away a few years ago.

"Thomson was chosen to write the forward in our 50th anniversary history book and commented 'I loved it instantly, we had nothing like it in Australia'.

"He used to stay alongside the golf course with members when he visited and in those days of professional golf, which were a little bit more social than today, mixed with members.

"Evidently he was an excellent pianist and would entertain the members on the club's piano."

Thomson, a five times British Open winner, and Nagle bought the club a mower to cut the green which Barber said "wasn't an insignificant gesture or cost".


"We are currently having the mower restored for display in our clubhouse."

John Williams, father of Steve, organised for his son to caddy a New Zealand Open at Royal Wellington for Thomson as a teenager.

"Williams became Thomson's regular caddy here in New Zealand and then I think also in Australia."

Barber said, "Thomson was a great ambassador for the sport and along with his best mate Kel Nagle, really helped to launch the popularity of golf here in New Zealand.

"Considered a gentleman both on and off the course, not always a trait that is prevalent in professional sport, he will be sadly mourned by the golfing community and particularly here at Paraparaumu Beach where he was held in such high regard."

Memorable moment:

Brian Futter recalls watching Thomson play the par three fifth hole, which is on an elevated island green, at the links course during the final round of a major tournament in the 1950s.

"He had made three attempts to chip his ball up on to the green and it had run back to his feet each time.

"He, for some reason, picked me out of the spectator audience, only a matter of metres away, and shrugged his shoulders and said 'what do I do now' and I said 'use your putter' and he did and salvaged a triple bogey.

"I've been to other events where he was playing and he was always worth watching — always very cool, even tempered and just a thoroughly nice guy."