Story: Golf

Page 3. Changing face of golf

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Women players

By 1930 the number of women players almost equalled the men, and during both world wars women members enabled a number of struggling clubs to survive. The first internationally prominent female player was Olive Kay of Whangārei, who won her first New Zealand match-play title in 1930 and went on to take several Australian and trans-Tasman championships.

Gender segregation

Throughout the 20th century New Zealand golfing remained segregated along gender lines. Although men and women played together in mixed foursomes from 1896, such joint competitions were seen as largely social occasions. Women were expected to play golf during the week, leaving the courses free for men on the weekend. Despite these limitations, the quality of women’s play continued to improve. The first women’s professional tournament, the Ladies Classic, was held in 1975. In 1996 the Ladies’ Golf Union changed its name to Women’s Golf New Zealand. In 2005 the New Zealand Golf Association and Women’s Golf New Zealand amalgamated to form New Zealand Golf Inc.

Champion player

Michael Campbell of Ngāti Ruanui and Ngā Rauru developed his skills from an early age at the Tītahi Bay and Paraparaumu golf courses. After his success with the 1992 Eisenhower Trophy team he turned professional and in 2005 won the US Open, two shots ahead of world number-one Tiger Woods. The New Zealand Parliament delayed its sitting time so ministers could follow Campbell’s progress over the tense closing holes. Less than a year later he won golf’s richest prize, the £1 million awarded to the winner of the HSBC World Match Play Championship.

Māori and golf

Kurupō Tāreha

Māori have been prominent golfers throughout the 20th century. In 1903 Kurupō Tāreha (Ngāti Kahungunu) won the New Zealand Amateur Championship playing at Waiōhiki in Napier, a course built on land donated by his family. He became the first president of the New Zealand Māori Golf Association, formed in 1932 to foster and promote the game among Māori. It remained active in 2012, organising national and regional tournaments in parallel with New Zealand Golf Inc.

Tāreha’s son, Kapi, grew to outshine his father and was renowned for driving tremendous lengths. Kapi’s daughter, Audrey, also became an outstanding player, winning the New Zealand Māori Golf Association national title many times.

Walter Godfrey

Aucklander Walter Godfrey maintained the tradition of excellence in Māori golf by winning the 1958 Amateur Championship at age 16. The following year he refused to compete in South Africa in protest at that country’s apartheid system. Godfrey turned professional in 1963 and went on to win a number of international tournaments.

Administration changes

The administration of golf in New Zealand changed considerably from 1985 when Grant Clements became secretary of the New Zealand Golf Association. The following year he wrote a paper, ‘In search of success’, making several predictions which would come to fruition, most notably that the New Zealand men’s amateur team would win the amateur golfing world’s most prized team trophy, the Eisenhower Trophy, within six years.

1992 Eisenhower Trophy

This goal was almost achieved two years prematurely when New Zealand, as Eisenhower Trophy tournament hosts in Christchurch in 1990, tied for second place. Two years later, in Vancouver Harbour, the New Zealand four outplayed the hot-favourite American four by 14 strokes over the final nine holes to win the Eisenhower Trophy by seven shots. Philip Tataurangi had the added distinction of the best individual total for the four rounds. He and his teammates Grant Moorhead, Stephen Scahill and Michael Campbell received the 1992 Supreme Halberg Sports award, along with the sports team of the year honours and the sportsman of the year award for Tataurangi.

How to cite this page:

Garry Ahern, 'Golf - Changing face of golf', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 August 2022)

Story by Garry Ahern, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Sep 2016