By PHILIP CHANDLER
Queenstown Golf Club’s new GM has wide-ranging ideas for the club’s prestigious Kelvin Heights course.
Andrew Bell, former GM for Christchurch’s Clearwater course, would like to see his new patch become ‘‘a full-blooded hospitality destination on the [Kelvin] peninsula’’.
‘‘It might be the best pizzas on the peninsula, the best fish and chips, the best view.
‘‘Golf will be the mainstay, but I think we can expand our involvement with the walkers, the bikers.
‘‘For me, it’s a surreal experience because at Clearwater people came to play golf.
‘‘I can be sitting here and in come 16 men in lycra, ’cos they’re on their mountain bikes and they come in and have their lattes and their scones.
‘‘I’d also like to see more families and casuals just enjoy a hit and a giggle on the driving range, or play five holes or nine holes.’’
He notes the course is already drawing more of ‘‘the young tradie types’’, some of whom took up golf when organised sport became harder to play after the Covid lockdowns.
Bell says the number of green fee-paying Kiwi visitors ‘‘has actually not been as tragic as it could have been’’.
‘‘The international [market] has gone, but it’ll come back — I sort of joke with the board that members who want to play in November might have to start booking now.’’
In terms of improvements, he says the clubhouse dates back to 1975 — ‘‘we’re just working through that process right now’’ — but while there are ‘‘some plans around refreshing parts of the golf course’’, not much is needed.
That’s because greenkeeper Ian Douglas is ‘‘just a grass genius, as far as I’m concerned’’.
‘‘The greens here are as good as anywhere in the country [and] certainly rival our resort neighbours.’’
A long-time banker — ‘‘[during when] I got to play golf at some of the best places in the world’’ — Bell joined Clearwater in 2011, initially as golf ops manager before becoming its GM for seven years.
It was a semi-logical move as golf has been in his family ‘‘since day one’’.
As for his own game, he quips: ‘‘Andrew’s game is rubbish — Andrew was a good golfer till he became a golf manager.’’