Russley grew out of the Hagley Golf Club when a number of then members decided that they needed an extended links to relieve the congestion at Hagley and provide a greater golfing challenge. 120 acres of dry river bed land was purchased at Russley by the Hagley Links Co for 4200 pounds in August 1927.
Then in the incredibly short time span of less than 9 months, the clubhouse was built, the basic layout of the course was decided on and 12 holes of the course were made ready for the official opening on Saturday 12th May 1928. The original layout of the course is a credit to Joe A Clements, a winner of the New Zealand Open in 1908, 1909 and 1912 who was the first professional at the Club. In 1934 Russley Golf Club was duly incorporated as an independent club and the links company was eventually taken over by the club in 1947.
The course in its early days was stark, windswept and bare with thousands of stones lying on the old riverbed land. In those days members used to pick up stones and put them in piles prior to play In 1934-5 thousands of pinus radiata trees were planted along with many other shrubs of various descriptions to create the attractive surroundings still evident today. During the second world war an aerodrome defence force was stationed in huts along the roadside on the 7th hole.
Russley has hosted many prestigious tournaments and visitors over the years. In the 1960’s and 70’s the Wills Masters and Garden City Classic professional tournaments were hosted at Russley on 12 occasions. Players including Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Bob Charles were regular competitors. Other famous names who played Russley at that time were the three Toms, Watson, Weiskopf and Kite. In 1985 the NZ Open was held at Russley, won by Corey Pavin and in 1990 the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships (the Espirito Santo) was hosted here. Russley continues to host prestigious national events, the most recent being the New Zealand Amateur Championships in 2011.