There is a lot of history surrounding Waitikiri, going back to 1860 when a Mr John McLean bought the land from the New Zealand Land Company. But the real history began on 20 April 1937 when a group of keen supporters of Canterbury Golf led by A R (Ray) Blank formed the Waitikiri Links Ltd, to purchase the land that was to become the Waitikiri and Bottle Lake Golf Clubs. Also involved in this group of original shareholders were S J Holland (later NZ Prime Minister) and J R McKenzie (later a knight and well known philanthropist).
The clubs were granted long term leases which gave them security of tenure. During this period and through to 1991, the Club purchased shares in the Links Company as they came available which eventually gave the Club a holding of approximately 50%. The club owes a debt of gratitude to two stalwarts of the Club, Messrs J E Mercer and E R Casbolt who were instrumental in the purchase of these shares. Moving forward to 1991 the shareholders resolved to liquidate Waitikiri Links Ltd and our club took the freehold of our course in exchange for our shares and the Blank Estate became the owner of the Bottle Lake Golf Course.
In 1997 the management structure of the Club was changed with the appointment of Trustees and a Board of Directors. The men’s and women’s match committee structure continued.
It 1999 it was decided to replace the Clubhouse and Professional’s shop at a cost of about 1.5 million dollars. Other significant financial events were the sale of 21 sections by No. 6 and 7 fairways and the purchase of adjoining land to redevelop No. 4 and No. 5 holes. This work was completed in 2005.
The Course
Over the years there have been many major changes on the layout of the course.
Originally No. 2 was what is now No. 15; No. 18 (the practice green by the carpark) was No. 9 green and No. 7 was the 18th hole with the green where No. 8 tee is. Mercers Corner (No. 13) and Goff (No. 14) were developed. Other major changes were the development of the practice area and the extension of No. 18.
In the early 1970s the drainage of the course was terrible and was vastly improved by trenching through the Bottle Lake swamp and pumping out to the Styx River. Before this was done the course was often unplayable for extended periods, entering the winter. In the early 1980s a comprehensive watering system was installed, vastly improving the course. The appearance and playability of the course has been improved over the years by the removal of many trees (mainly pine) and the planting of many new trees, ornamentals and different and more attractive varieties. The removal of the concrete pond in front of No. 17 green was much appreciated by members.
The Members
J L (Jim) Mercer joined the club in 1941, was President in 1944 and again from 1952-1965 and Patron from 1966 until his death in 1990. No other person made a greater contribution to the establishment, success and survival of the Club.
J P (John) O’Gorman was Honorary Secretary from 1954 to 1972, Club Captain 1974/75, 1978, 1983/84 and President 1980/81. He was a life member. In those days the Club had very limited paid office holders and no paid manager. He filled this gap in an honorary capacity and later was a most forceful and excellent Club Captain. During that time there was no doubt who was Mr. Waitikiri.
Kath Thompson had a long association with the Club. She joined Waitikiri in 1956 and was elected to the Committee in 1958. She was the handicapper from 1960 to 1965, the Vice-Captain 1963 and 1964, the Captain in 1983 and the Secretary between 1965 and 1974. She also served on the Canterbury Districts Ladies’ Golf Association for three years as secretary/treasurer, and for three as secretary.
Four present members , Mike Davies, Tony Thomas, John Thompson and Pam Ellis have given outstanding, continuous service to the Club and at various times have been Club Captain, committee member, Handicapper, Canterbury Golf Association representatives, junior golf convenor etc.