Situated on the edge of the Coromandel Forest Park, to the east of Auckland, the Lakes Resort golf course was opened in 2004. The stunning 18-hole championship golf course sits within a residential community that also enjoys the use of other leisure facilities like a spa, swimming pools and tennis courts.
Such is the quality of the resort, it is one of only nine (along with the likes of Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers) to be included in the prestigious International Marketing and Promotional group called The Best of Golf New Zealand. The putting surfaces are amongst the best in the country, made from L93 Bent, a very strong, consistent grass developed in Georgia, USA.
The Puddicombe design team created the course (better known perhaps in their native Canada for work at Red Tail Landing in Edmonton) and they made a fine job of routing the course through the type of lush vegetation found only in natural wetland areas.
Golf at the Lakes is all that its name suggests. Ponds, creeks and waterfalls come into play at a good number of the holes – several on the outward half and all of the back nine, to be precise! Water is not the only hazard out on the course though, as a number of holes feature what are described as “beach bunkers” – mini versions of nearby Pauanui Beach!
A feature hole on the front nine is the 385-yard, par four 4th, called “Matata,” which doglegs slightly to the right. The tee shot must flirt with a large bunker at the bend in the fairway to secure the best angle of approach for the second shot. Two greenside sand traps then gather any pulled shots to the green. A wonderful boardwalk connects the green to the next tee, adding a unique ambiance to the course.
One of the best holes on the back nine is the 165-yard, par three, 10th (“Kawau”) which is played from an island tee in front of the clubhouse across water to a green on the far side of the lake with a bunker in front and behind the putting surface. It’s only the start of what many consider to be the best back nine in the country. The 12th to 17th holes, in particular, are really special as they dogleg around streams, native bush and white sand bunkers.
Grant Puddicombe, course architect, commented as follows:
“The design and construction of the golf course required a great degree of sensitivity towards the natural wetlands. The land itself is just above sea level and the main stream that flows through the golf course flows towards the sea during low tide and back towards the course during high tides. Water has become a main focus of the design as numerous lakes retain the mountain runoff prior to discharging into the stream. Construction of the golf course was very difficult due to limited grade in the wetland areas and required significant fill to give the play areas relief yet seamlessly blend into the natural surroundings.
The nature of the design is strategic with a variety
of hazards placed at different angles from the multiple tees; this offers an
interesting and enjoyable experience for all calibres of player. Each and every
hole is unique and has its own memorable character and the players will be
called upon to use every club in the bag. We believe the course will improve
with age and will indeed stand the test of time.”
Layout is great. Tough and tight . However it is completely let down by it's condition only 3/4 of the fairways had grass on and unfortunately the same was to be said for the greens the whole resort has fallen on hard times with membership numbers not even enough for decent competition even if they all turned up! Such a shame
One ball seems a bit harsh for a course where you think the "layout is great". I completely agree that the conditioning was the weakest factor, and also it's clear that membership numbers are an issue, but to imply that 75% of fairways and greens had no grass is just factually incorrect, certainly at the time of my visit (Jan 2019). When did you play there? Yes, if you expect emerald fairways from your resort courses, Lakes will disappoint you, fairways are scrubby, but I never felt like 6" placement on fairways was necessary, it didn't ruin my day at all. Green were rather slow but (apart from 2 greens with small areas of damage) well covered and true. If high level conditioning is crucial to your enjoyment of a golf course, don't go to Lakes until there is substantial reinvestment by a new owner. If you're not too fussed, and design is far more important, you'll have some fun.
Sorry my review read a little wrong. I meant that each fairway only had about 75 % of grass on it and 25 % bare patches same for a lot of the greens 25 % bare patches . Your right though as the layout is good I would go up to a 2 ball rating
Original 1 ball rating adjusted to 2 balls.
The Lakes is situated in the middle of the stunning Coromandel Peninsula, about 2 hours from Auckland. The Coromandel itself is one of my favourite areas in the whole country, which is quite a boast for New Zealand, and is well worth a visit whether you feel the need to bring your clubs or not. Google “Cathedral Cove” to get a little taste of what the region has to offer.
To the golf itself, well, it doesn’t quite match the surroundings in terms of quality, although that’s no major knock. It was designed by Puddicombe Golf back in 2004, a family business who tend to make quite homogenous, formulaic golf courses with occasional moments of ingenuity (see Terrace Downs and the renovations at Remuera and Pukekoke). Lakes is very much falls into that mould.
Moments of decent architecture come at the sharp dogleg 2nd (yes, a little penal, but at least it rewards daring shotmaking), the 12th (nice mix of strategic and heroic, a “shall I bomb it over the blind corner” type of affair) and the 17th. Here, the early 2000’s fad for beach bunkers at least creates strategic interest, in the style of the Cape template, asking the golfer how daring a line he or she wishes to take. The creek in front of the green, whist often used in par 5’s around the world as a risk/reward feature, still makes for a fun challenge for those who managed to nail their drive and want to go for glory.
On the flip side, I found some of the design ideas to be a little lazy. Most notably, the simple strategic trick of creating a very narrow neck of fairway at driver distance, raising the question of 3 wood off the tee, was a card that the Puddicombes played way too often here (I counted 7 times). I also felt that there were at least a couple of holes with significant water features where it appeared as if the architect just thought “the water makes the hole” and declined to add anything else – the par 3 10th being the prime example here. Yes, it’s a daring carry over the lake, but aside from that it’s dead flat. A shame, because the same architects made a much better fist of par 3’s with water at Pukekohe (4th) and Remuera (3rd).
Conditioning wise, it’s clearly deteriorated. The greens still run true, but the fairways are more ragged than any other resort style course I’ve played. The course has been on the market since late 2017, and I have to assume that this has had an effect on maintenance practices. We were told that there is now an overseas buyer who wishes to invest in the property, so it will be interesting to see if this comes to fruition, and the course is restored back to its former standard. To be honest though, even if it is, it probably shouldn’t make it into the Top 20 nationally. Go if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the Coromandel, but it’s not worth a special trip.
This was a resort course that is now shows significant signs of age and lack of patronage. It is an interesting layout and there are some good holes but if you are looking for a pristine course, this isn't it. Fairways are a mixture of grass, weeds and rushes. I played in November which is late spring but the ground underfoot in many areas was soft and spongy so I' hate to be there after some rain. Balls often plugged in the wet areas.
We arrived after opening time but there was no-one there and it took a phone call to get the pro-shop to open.
Walking between greens and tees were marathons on some holes and I guess you would walk 30% more on this course because of it. Our timing was poor because the greens had been roughly sanded and cored so it didn't help the experience.
It could have been a much better experience but was overall a disappointment when compared to the expectation and course promotional material.
Still, you pay for what you get and the fees are low for that reason. Plenty of other courses in the area where you can enjoy things more. Play again there? No
This course starts out gentle enough, but once you turn it really tightens the screws. Some very impressive holes, 10 is daunting off the tee and 17 is an excellent hole with some bunkers on the lakes edge. A few too many blind tee shots for my liking but it does represent good value for money. There are lots of opportunity to lose your ball with some harsh scrub-land, swamps and lakes all ready to grab your wayward shots. I wouldn't go out of my way to play again but if passing nearby would definitely call again.
This is a bloody good spot, in nice condition every time I've played there. You know that real nice condition without being perfect? Yep that sort. Often quiet given the isolated location, except for peak summertime and long weekends when the Aucklanders come streaming in. Good thing too, or the place would probably go under.
There's a lot of water. Perhaps a bit gimmicky, but if you're just playing there every now and again its fun and adds to the resort feel of the course. The par 3 10th, played entirely over water, has what looks a bit like an island green when you're teeing off (it's really not) and conjures romantic notions of what it must be like to play TPC Sawgrass (this is a massive stretch). The back 9 can be pretty tough for higher handicappers as most holes punish wayward drives with either water or heavy scrub. It's a hard life.
I actually hope it does get busier because a course of this standard deserves to thrive. Until then, people should take advantage of quiet golf at a reasonably high-end course. Plus Pauanui has a great beach and a couple cheap little 9 hole courses to slap a few balls around on also.
All the best lads
stunned to see Pauanui this far down the list ....really enjoyable course for the lower HC golfer ...was in great condition when I planned with a group over 4 games(boys trip) ,,,would certainly rate around the same as the likes of millbrook ..
a great mix of over water and sand traps ...located is a majestic valley ...