Edition 5 of the Kerikeri Gazette reported the formation of the Kerikeri Golf Club, and the election of a steering committee of 5, on April 16 1936. A meeting in May elected officers and a committee including Mr J R Lyness, President, Mr Alec Riddell, Men’s Captain and Mrs Freda Edkins, Lady Captain. Mr Alec Riddell was made the first Life Member recognising his generosity in providing land for the course on his farm at the corner of Kerikeri Road and State Highway 10.
Mrs Edkins, a New Zealand representative golfer on scratch handicap played off the men’s tees and her’s is the first name engraved on the Championship Cup presented in 1936 by J R Lyness and still awarded annually to the men’s senior champion.
Coaching was provided by 3 times New Zealand Open Champion Alex Murray, of Wiseman’s in Auckland, who travelled to Otiria by train and was billeted by club members for 3 day visits. In 1937 he brought the South African golfer, Bobby Locke to play at Kerikeri. Perhaps it was here that Bobby, still recognised as one of the game’s best putters, first said “You drive for show but putt for dough”.
The club operated until 1941 when it went into recess due to the effects of World War II. The keen golfers played at Waitangi from its opening in 1946.
Interest in resurrecting a Kerikeri Golf Club surfaced in 1969, and the club was officially reformed in February 1970. The club rules were revised and land was purchased on very favourable terms from Lionel and Stella Silich, who strongly supported the formation of a new course in Kerikeri. There followed some years of dedicated and enthusiastic working bees. Many members donated their time, their orchard machinery and took up debentures to realise their shared vision. The design by Merv Andreason was for an 18 hole course of Championship standard. When rain washed all the seed off the 3rd and 4th fairways they had to be turfed by hand using working bees. The observation by some visiting Sherwood Park visitors that the members were “working like gumdiggers” led them to return with refreshments to the delight of the locals. At the ensuing social gathering a club visit was organised and this popular interclub visit still plays for the Gumdigger’s Trophy annually.
Opening day was on 23 March 1974 with nine hole golf beginning on the front nine. The round barn clubhouse, presently the machinery shed, with internal walls lined with bamboo (falling weta were a hazard), saw some memorable times, especially when the access ford was flooded and members were “forced to stay on through the night”.
Purchase and subdivision of the housing land near the club entrance provided funds for the completion of the second nine holes in 1977, as well as the bridge constructed in 1979, and the clubhouse in 1985.
Committees have continued to develop the course to the original plan, with gradual installation and upgrading of bunkers, and the establishment of the couch grass fairways which have transformed our enjoyment of summer golf.
The club’s name was changed from Kerikeri Golf Club to Bay of Islands Golf Club Kerikeri at a General Meeting held on 29th September 2010.
We enjoy playing on one of the best courses in New Zealand as a result of the vision, enthusiasm and commitment of members through the years.