Review for Millbrook (Arrow & Coronet)

Reviewer Score:


The resort now boasts 27 holes of championship golf, with the possibility of another 9 holes in the planning stages.

The original course was designed by Kiwi golfing legend Bob Charles in conjunction with John Darby, and opened for play in 1992.

In 2010 Turner & McPherson introduced another 9 holes, and renovated the existing Bob Charles course. Currently there are 3 distinct nine hole courses:

The Remarkables nine holes were all part of the original course designed by Bob Charles, and still retain the look and feel of the original course, although Turner & McPherson added some bunkering and tweaked the course a little. It is beautifully maintained and visually striking as the course is set in a natural amphitheatre with those Millbrook Golf Course - Photo by reviewer lovely alpine backdrops… Charles chose to site the course so that most of the fairways are on flattish ground in the valley (the old wheat fields), and a majority of tees AND greens are on elevated ledges. Charles was an exceptionally good golfer, and was known for hitting the ball long and straight. His golf holes tend to reflect his style in that the holes require long straight hitting. Quite often you will drive from an elevated tee to a relatively straight treelined fairway below you, and then approach a green sitting in the hillside ahead of you. Turner and McPherson have attempted to add some interest and strategy to the course by introducing more central fairway bunkering but overall the course retains that old world character. It is perfect for professional golf, as the professionals love flat lies, and greens without too much complication. For the amateur it is a nice place to play, but can be quite difficult, and does not offer much in the way of strategic decisions.

The Arrow nine holes was also based predominantly on the Bob Charles course with revision by Turner McPherson. The first 5 holes of the Arrow are quite different from The Remarkable nine in that the land is almost entirely flat- so no elevated tees or greens. These 5 holes are relatively straight treelined holes, and in my opinion a step below the quality of the rest of the resort course - there is simply is not enough interesting territory to negotiate. Nevertheless each hole is nice to play, and well maintained, it’s just not memorable! The last 4 holes of this 9 are a different story- Turner and McPherson have been given a free hand here and created entirely new holes to finish the 9. These holes are a matching set with the newer Coronet nine. The design is much more modern and strategic, and the bunkering and green complexes demand your attention. Decisions have to be made about whether to lay up (6th), go for the green (7th), which club to approach the green with (8th )….. Turner may not have got it all right but in my mind it is much more interesting to play. I particularly liked the very short par 4 eighth hole where one can hit a putt or wedge with the short approach to the green. It is a very short hole, and a difficult little par The key is the severe green This is a hole I could play over and over to sort out the angle and method of approach, and of course that would change with a change of pin position… I liked these 4 holes by Turner, although his strategic designs like 6 and 7 could be tweaked to better match the objectives of the design.

The latest nine holes – The Coronet – was entirely a Turner McPherson design. The design strategies are very good, but sometimes miss the mark. In my opinion the green complexes need a little softening in parts on holes 2, 3, 5, and maybe 8. The third hole is a strong long par 4 in a spectacular setting. Most will be approaching the green with everything they have to a green heavily protected by slope and bunkering. It is my opinion that such a hole does NOT require a severe green as well! The short par four, fourth hole is intended to give players options to play but instead most hit the same shot every time- the detail in the build does not quite match the intended strategy. Nevertheless the Coronet nine has a lot to recommend it. The holes do ask you to make decisions, and the routing of the nine heads through interesting territory I like it and it is my preferred nine at Millbrook.

Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.

Date: April 25, 2019

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