Review for Lakes - Pauanui

Reviewer Score:


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 Lakes - Pauanui Golf Course - Photo by reviewer 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 Lakes - Pauanui Golf Course - Photo by reviewer 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.

Date: January 30, 2019

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