A Short History of the Ellesmere Golf Club

It all begins with the arrival in Leeston of Dr George Gosset in 1883. His father formed a golf club in England in 1864, the oldest golf links course in England - Royal North Devon Golf Club. His son followed in his father's footsteps and won a number of championships in England. So he brought his knowledge and skills to Leeston where he worked as a doctor in the district.

He met up with Richard Loudon, Manager of the Bank of New Zealand in 1894, and together they joined forces to establish the Leeston Golf Club. This was at the current A & P showgrounds on the edge of Leeston. The pig and cattle pens proved to be just one of the hazards over the nine-hole course and the ball was considered holed whenever the ball was within four feet of the flag.

Practice on such a difficult course must have had some benefits as in 1895, Gosset won the New Zealand amatuer golf chamionship at the Hutt Golf Club.

The current site of the golf course is land bought by the Ellesmere Domain Board in 1878 to provide an area of recreation for the local people. The first tenant was the local Racing Board where horse races were held on the grounds at frequent intervals. This continued up until 1928. Some of the holes on the course reflect this early use of the ground - "Pickets" No.10, "The Mound" No.7, "Saddling Paddock" No.4 and "Clements" No.5. There is also a water trough by No.11 tee that was used by the horses.

The Golf Links transferred to the land in 1900 and the golf club was firmly established. It was renamed the Ellesmere Golf Club in 1913 when Gosset became the President. The nine-hole course of five short holes and four long holes had a great deal of volunteer work done on it. Alot of this was to protect the greens from the horse racing and to erect picket fences around the saddling paddock. Both racing and golf co-existed on the same ground for a number of years, although some greens were in need of repairs after horse races.

The records of Golf Committees and Champions date from 1928 as that is when the Golf Club is considered to have officially began. Horse racing on the grounds ceased and the land was solely used by the golf club.

In 1929 a new pavilion was built at ths cost of 400 pounds, the money provided by the Ellesmere Domain Board. This building still exists today as the dining room and kitchen of the clubhouse. In 1931 the course became a 13 hole course; the golfers played 12 holes, then repeated the first five holes, and then finished their rounds on the extra 18th hole.

In 1965, major plans for extension of the golf clubhouse and to purchase extra land to expand the number of holes to 18 were released. This set up the golf course and clubhouse as it is today. The only major change since then is the huge investement in the fairway watering system in the 1990's. The golf course today is still undergoing changes as it maintains its standard as one of the best in the Central Canterbury area.