Russley grew out of the Hagley Golf Club when a number of the members decided that they needed 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 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. Over the last few years, the club has started implementing a plan to progressively thin out the older exotic pines and where appropriate replace them with native trees.
During the second world war an aerodrome defence force was stationed in huts along the roadside on the 7th hole.
In 2012-14 the back nine holes were redesigned by leading golf course architect, Greg Turner. This has given the course more open fairways and a greater variety of challenges, particularly around the greens. View the Sports Inc video.
Russley has hosted many prestigious tournaments and visitors over the years. In the 1960s and 70s the Wills Masters and Garden City Classic professional tournaments were hosted at Russley on 12 occasions. Players including Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Sir 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 Championship (the Espirito Santo) was hosted here.
Russley continues to host prestigious national events, such as the New Zealand Amateur Championships in 2011 and 2017, and the Legends Pro Am tournaments in 2017 and 2018. The course is currently listed in the 2023/24 Top 50 New Zealand golf courses by Australian Golf Digest.
In recent years, Russley has developed a reputation for providing an outstanding and extensive junior coaching programme. Many of Russley's young golfers have gone on to compete very successfully in regional, national and international competitions.
Russley was the “Club of the Year” winner in the Golf NZ 2020 National Golf Awards having been a finalist in 2018 and 2019. Its Head Professional, Rodney Yee, was a finalist for Professional Coach of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as being a finalist for Community Coach of the Year in 2019. In 2021, the General Manager, Giles Beal, was named Administrator of the Year by Canterbury Golf.
Club of the Year Celebration