When I moved to New Zealand nine years ago, I remember seeing this clifftop course bordering Auckland Harbour from the plane – it was the first glimpse of New Zealand golf that I saw, and I remember thinking it looked pretty decent from the air, although a bit resorty maybe. Then all I read online was that it copped a lot of flack, mostly for its conditioning, but also the design. When I became the NZ Correspondent for top100, I got to find out what the Kiwi golfing fraternity thought of it, and frankly, it seemed to be the most polarising course in the country (Arrowtown aside).
So to cut a long story short, I did not know what to expect. And you know what? It’s actually pretty good. Yes, the bunkers are in terrible condition, they don’t drain properly, and as a result are often rock hard. The club / resort is well aware – I was told that this was the next area for investment, and so it should be. But the conditioning otherwise is totally fine, not incredible, but nothing unbefitting a mid-range resort course, and certainly nothing to complain about.
As for the design, well, erm …. it’s a mid-range resort course, very much from the era it was built in, and appearing to be aimed squarely at the Asian market. It’s not an architectural masterpiece by any stretch, there are no classic holes, but almost every hole has something to recommend it (except maybe the short 7th, which seems like an awkward, uphill par 3 that simply links 6 and 8). There’s even some quirk – I’m talking 17 here, with its colossal beanpole of a cabbage (?) tree in front of the green.
Ultimately though, I walked off 18, and thought that I’d like to come back. I don’t know why, I wouldn’t normally feel that way about conventional resort courses, maybe it was low expectation going in, but I fancy another crack. Especially once the bunkers are sorted.
Date: September 18, 2017