Arrowtown is described by Tom Doak as a hidden gem. It is very natural golf course with limited shaping of the golf course other than the greens. It is often referred by locals as "Narrow Town" due to the tight driving lines, more so on the front nine. There is only one bunker at Arrowtown which is located next to the practice green by the driving range. There are no bunkers on the golf course. It made me chuckle after I finished the round.
Arrowtown begins with a long downhill par three to a Punchbowl green. This is followed by a par five where you are not sure where to go, as it is a very narrow fairway and the fourth fairway seems to be the direction of the hole, or maybe it was the third fairway? That is Arrowtown in a nutshell. The course rises and falls throughout the front nine which is one of the most fun nine holes I have ever played. The doglegs are crisp and sharp. Strategy and thoughtfulness are required. But mostly, just relax and enjoy the golf course. It is surrounded by mountains and while the views are not quite as good as some other nearby golf courses in the Queenstown area of New Zealand, nevertheless they are outstanding.
The course loses a bit on the back nine. The land is not quite as special after you cross the road to get to the tenth tee. In addition, the fairways are wider and the doglegs not as sharp. The lower quality of the holes is countered on a couple of holes with tricky, slanted greens and run offs. One could see why Tom Doak likes this course as it is so natural. I suspect the only moving of earth was to create the greens.
For the green fee of less than $50, this is a very worthwhile course to play. If you are debating playing here or Millbrook, you should play here as it is that much fun. It is only 6000 yards long from the member's tees due to having only three par 5's and five par 3's. All of the par 3's are fun and present a challenge. Have lunch or dinner in one of the fine restaurants in the small town.
The holes I liked the most are 2, 4, 5, 7 and 16. With the exception of 16, they are short, quirky par 4's where I did not mind even getting a bad bounce and losing my ball on the fourth hole in the fescue. I am certain that ball would have been found later that day, perhaps by the next player to have his ball land onto that slope.
On my personal rating scale I gave it high marks in the area of playability and the terrain that it sits on. As mentioned, the views are spectacular, more so on the front nine where the fairways are a bit narrower and the greens more consistently interesting.
As a public option near Queenstown, this is the golf course to go play.
Date: October 11, 2019