It didn’t worry Willie Moore that most of the onlookers during his early golfing days were merino sheep. Cromwell’s resident golf professional has fond memories of starting out, just up the road, at the well-loved, rural course at Tarras. Today he is living the golfing dream, having worked hard in Australia gaining his professional status then returning to settle on home turf, Central Otago. Willie(32) has high hopes for the Cromwell course, as a destination for the increasing number of golf tourists coming to the area. Newcomers to Cromwell and those wanting to learn the game would also be a focus, he says. Cromwell’s course had a central location, some unique characteristics and a host town now offering other quality tourist attractions. “Queenstown has become the number one destination in New Zealand for golf tourism. We are talking with golf tour operators there about including us in their packages because they can really make it a day out here now –play in the morning then go to Highlands[Motorsport Park], have a helicopter flight and visit a winery.” Cromwell’s course was unique in being sand-based, open, scenic and in a location where sunny days were frequent. It was considered a ‘links’ course, a term usually associated with coastal terrain. “It’s the only inland links course in the South Island…not too many trees, tussocks and marram-type grasses and free draining sand,” Willie said. “It gives us a point of difference. People might come to Queenstown and play five different courses but they could all be same style of course and they can get bored of that. Cromwell is a bit different so it mixes it up a bit.” Willie believed the new cycle trails planned for Cromwell would also bring more golfers over the coming years as the two activities often attracted the same demographic. Because the course was large and open, he said, it never felt crowded. “It is a lot quieter and it’s a really peaceful environment here. People like that too. And it’s cheaper. If you are a member of any club in New Zealand you can play 18 holes from only $35. At the Hill’s course in Queenstown its $600.”
Twilight Gatherings Friendly and Fun Club golf in Cromwell was strong with about 350 members registered, he said. Twilight meets were probably most popular local gathering with up to 100 people sometimes taking part. “Twilight golf is great here. It’s really social and open to anyone, members or non-members. That will start again in October and run through until March.” Willie’s passion is helping people with their golf through coaching and club-fitting and after a year in the job he is thriving on the challenge. He operates his business, Moore Golf, from beside the clubrooms and is PGA professional golfer. The course is familiar territory for him, playing here first as a high school student at Cromwell College. The school’s golf academy programme gave him the skills to go on and represent Otago then Canterbury. Six years in Melbourne followed, doing his PGA traineeship while working at an exclusive members club on the famed ‘Melbourne sandbelt’. He then earned a living on the Australian professional circuit often playing in front of large crowds. Willie, who has a young family, hopes to meet lots of visitors and some of Cromwell’s newer residents on the course this summer. He looks forward to helping host the final qualifying events for the New Zealand Open every March. This attracts high calibre talent from all over New Zealand and overseas and makee good use of the hardest of the course’s five tee options. “They love the course, it’s long and it’s challenging enough for them. It holds up to the pros and we get lots of spectators…I get to play too so that’s a bonus. If you want to learn more about Cromwell’s great course contact Willie on firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone 03 445-0165.