Waikato’s newest golf club – the result of a merger between the Lochiel and Narrows clubs – will take its name from the Waikato River, which flows between its two courses.
To be known as the Riverside Golf Club, the name arose from a vote by members of the two clubs.
The origins of the new-look club lie nearly 80 years in the past. Lochiel was formed and incorporated in 1938 and Narrows in 1935.
Both clubs have solid memberships with approximately 550 members each. They own their own courses, have supportive sponsors and solid balance sheets.
“When we first started talking about a merger, it wasn’t because we were in trouble but we know that golf, like many sports, faces challenges in attracting and retaining members,” said TSB Bank Narrows Golf Club president John Bridle.
“Lochiel and Narrows are no different. We’ve been competing with each other all these years and it just seemed to us that it didn’t make sense to continue to do that.”
Lochiel chair Matt Laming said by merging members had the opportunity of playing 365 days a year at either course.
“Having 36 holes is a unique value proposition for members that no other club in the Waikato can replicate and in fact only two other clubs in New Zealand can, including Harewood, which will have a reciprocal club arrangement with Riverside Golf Club.”
The members would have access to greater buying power, better sponsorship support and, by sharing staff and resources, make the clubs more viable.
“We know other golf clubs around New Zealand are looking at what we’re doing with great interest. It’s fair to say that we probably have too many golf clubs in New Zealand. In Waikato for example, if you stand in the middle of Victoria St in Hamilton, you have a choice of 20 golf clubs within 30 minutes drive,” said Bridle, who is also president of Waikato Golf.
Waikato has 40 golf clubs for a population of about 385,000.
The new club’s logo was designed by Tom Jenkin who noticed that Lochiel, at its northern point on the fourth tee, and Narrows at its southern point, at the fifth tee, were less than 1.7km from each other.
Using a map, he replicated the shape of the river and illustrated two clubs either side of it with the colour of the courses – green (for fairways and greens) and golden brown (for bunkers and soil) and a flagstick in a hole.
The tag line adopted for the Riverside Golf Club is ‘one club, two great courses on either side of the mighty Waikato River.’
“We’ve now got a name, a presence, a vision – it’s given us something tangible that we can go with,” said Laming.