Queenstowner Brett Thomson has played a part in luring the world’s biggest women’s golf tour to New Zealand.
Thomson designed Auckland’s new Windross Farm golf course which will stage the LPGA-sanctioned NZ Women’s Open for three years, starting next September.
Kiwi world number one Lydia Ko, who’ll host as well as play the tournament, announced the coup last month.
The field’s likely to include most of the world’s top-30 female golfers.
Thomson’s company RBT Golf Design, with help from ex-Kiwi pro and friend Phil Tataurangi, forged the $30 million course out of a 60-hectare potato farm at Ardmore, 25 minutes’ drive from central Auckland.
He started the job, which included masterplanning and latterly project management, six years ago, basing himself in Auckland for the past two years.
“It was a hugely daunting undertaking, given the site was essentially flat.
“We had to build and shape every square metre of the property, helped through the importation of 500,000 tonnes of material.”
Thomson says he designed Windross as a members’ course.
Courses are getting too long, he maintains – “too difficult, it’s not good for the game, it’s not good for participation”.
He and Tataurangi have built five longer tees at Windross, for those who want an extra challenge.
architect, Thomson first came to Queenstown from Christchurch in 1995, inspired by the Millbrook Resort golf course project near Arrowtown.
He worked for 15 years for Queenstown course designer and developer John Darby, on the Clearwater course in Christchurch, then on local championship courses The Hills and Jack’s Point.
“For about six or seven years, Queenstown was the epicentre of golf course construction in NZ.”
He says Sir Michael Hill’s course The Hills, which co-hosts the NZ Open men’s tournament, is amazing – “you get such great vantage points”.
And he describes Jack’s Point as the best piece of golf real estate he’s worked on.
“It’s just stunning.”
He believes holding the LPGA will help golf tourism throughout NZ.
And when Windross’ hosting rights expire, he sees no reason why it can’t be shifted to Queenstown.
“We’ve got the infrastucture and we’ve got the golf courses – it’s really hard to beat Sir Michael’s because it’s such a good stadium course.”