Wayward golf balls and several near misses have led to three holes at an Auckland golf course being closed.
Three vehicles travelling along the Northwestern Motorway have been struck by golf balls coming from Mt Albert's Chamberlain Park in the three months between December and February this year
Auckland Council manages the course and after carrying out a risk assessment has decided to temporarily close three holes.
The closures come after the park has been in the headlines for its survival in recent years as left-leaning members of the local governing Albert-Eden Board drew up plans in 2019 to reduce the 18-hole course to nine holes and use the extra land as a park with walking, cycling and sporting facilities.
However, a compromise was made in November of that year that saw the 18 holes retained but areas of the park were still opened up for cycle pathways and walkways.
Kim O'Neill, acting general manager for Auckland Council's Community Facilities said the new closures would affect holes 5, 12 and 14.
"The risk has been assessed as extreme as it is likely to result in serious harm or fatalities which has led to the closure.
"Golf balls hitting vehicles on the motorway is something that we take very seriously. Until we can work out a long-term practical solution the best thing to do to ensure public safety is to close the three holes."
There have been other reports in the past of golf balls hitting vehicles but with these latest incidents happening in close succession, the decision was made to close the holes immediately.
"Most cases resulted in damage to the body of the vehicles, but in one of the incidents a golf ball struck and damaged the windscreen of a vehicle.
"We were concerned that this could lead to serious harm to people, so the decision was made to act now".
The closed holes were identified as being the most likely to result in golf balls on the motorway due to the direction of play.
Attempts to reduce the risk of balls landing on the motorway were already in place, including moving tees to change the angle of potential golf swings after advice from a golfing specialist.
A further report looking at the trajectory of golf balls from the golf course reinforced the call to close the three particular holes.
Auckland Council's Community Facilities, which operates the golf course, will investigate options to address the closures and prepare a report to the local Albert-Eden Board which governs the park.
The board will then make the final decision on the best way forward.