Founded in 1895 and designed by Samuel “Mure” Fergusson, New Zealand Golf Club is a top-class course located within the famous Surrey heath belt. New Zealand was laid out on the estate of H.F. Locke-King, who also built Brooklands, the world’s first motor racing circuit, on his property.
Following in the footsteps of nearby Woking Golf Club, New Zealand’s design was innovative, being one of the earliest courses to be routed across dense heathland. Fergusson continued to improve the layout for another thirty years during his long-term secretarial position at New Zealand Golf Club. In 1931, after Fergusson’s death, Tom Simpson (aided by Philip Mackenzie Ross) was commissioned to perform a major redesign of the course, which included significant bunker modifications.
According to Bernard Darwin, "New Zealand is sui generis. It does not compete with other courses, but it sets its own standard and lives up to it. If anyone wants to play a friendly game, uncrowded and unseen, to have a good lunch in pleasant company, and get home early to London, there is no place like New Zealand."
Not a long course by today’s standards, at a little over 6,000 yards, but with a lowly par of 68, it represents a challenge; six of the par fours are more than 400 yards long. Needless to say, accuracy rather than distance is important from the tee. The course plays through avenues of trees and there is plenty of heather to catch the wayward ball. New Zealand really is a stylish golf course and it’s a privilege to be able to play a round at this engaging golf club.
Most of the holes are isolated from each other by the trees; it’s an intimate feeling and a great place to play golf with friends. The 9th hole is about as far away from the clubhouse as you can get and it's the first in a cluster of three holes which are located on the other side of Martyrs Lane – so make sure you have everything you need in your bag before you start your round.
In 2015, New Zealand Golf Club commissioned Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design to return some of the course’s lost architectural features which, according to IVGD partner Ed Cartwright, “include returning the green complexes to their former glory by restoring Simpson’s laced/diagonal fingered bunkers and their asymmetric aprons.”
What makes a golf course a great course? Its so personal for many of us but arriving at the course at New Zealand it just looks epic. It looks like Woburn meets Sunningdale. The club house is quaint and classy, small and personal heaped with history it looks like it hasn't been updated since it was built and that's its charm. New Zealand is my idea of a perfect inland course, huge pine trees lining most of the fairways with heather ready to scoop you up if you stray off the fairways. The greens are fantastic but slower than expected. The half way house is positioned strategically after the par 3 8th where we met Trevor who helped us maximise our golf for the day by suggesting we head up the 14th and loop back round, you can play all day if you wish and many of the people we met had indeed played two rounds. It is a course that will definitly leave you wanting to play it more so having the ability to play as much as you like was great. Stopping for a pint afterwards we had to try New Zealands own beer served of course in an old fashioned beer glass, I love it.
Played with a couple of PGA pro’s, as the amateur I had an £150 green fee to contend with, which for March is really quite steep in my opinion particularly for its moderate ranking in Surrey.
We drove in to an empty club, and greeted by a lovely fella who I believe was the secretary, and a chap behind the bar who was also lovely. You can tell that when you come to this golf course as a guest you are paying for an experience.
We were the only ones on the course for the first few hours of the day! Millionaires golf.
Frosty morning so hard to get judge on the greens until the back 9 when the dew had gone. Greens just ok, not that quick, and not that true really. Not bad, but not good. It’s March so understandable, but if I’m paying top dollar I expect more. I played the Berkshire the day earlier and whilst still not perfect, as they probably won’t be in March, they were far nicer and quicker.
As for the course, a very tough start on 1 and 2! Possibly even the two strongest par 4’s on the layout. Both great holes. The rest of the par 4’s are a good mix of medium length and short holes, accuracy definitely at a premium.
The holes around 8-11 where they have done the clearing out of bushland to make a more open space feel in my opinion are better for it, and some of the rest of the course could use removing some dense bushland too, but that’s very much my taste, and might be completely against others!
The one par 5 is very short and easy. The par 3’s on this golf course are its shining light, a great mix of holes. Really enjoyed them.
The greens weren’t great, and neither were the fairways sadly.
I feel like when it’s in A1 condition it would be a real gem, a very tricky little test. I do believe with the green fee you can go around twice though which would then make it value for money for sure.
Overall, definitely worth a play or 2 if you’re in Surrey, I found Berkshire Red the day before easier, more fun, and better however, so this isn’t probably on my list for a return visit. But I did enjoy it!
On the club side, I worry for a club like this in 20 years. I get the vibe it would be a very old and small Membership base here who probably pay very good money to keep the course as quiet and tranquil as it is, no doubt part of its charm, but in the future they may need to think about a change of club policy. It felt very exclusive, but not in a bad way. They may need to try and attract more members and green fee players in the future as the older generation won’t be around forever.
It is a shame that New Zealand GC is surrounded by many others worthy of a similar of higher ranking. If that were not the case, it would be a 5.5 ball rating.
Whilst the golf course is clearly superb, the welcome was equally impressive.
From the time of book with Lazslo (secretary), it was an absolute joy and all communication was handled in a timely and friendly manner.
The understated entrance and subtle signage leads to the impressive clubhouse that then gives way to the wonderful locker room which could arguably be the most photographed set of lockers ever. Those who know, know.
The course was a pleasure to play, shorter than most but by no means a push over. Very narrow tee shots with short spaces between fairway and punishing heather are the norm at New Zealand, although it must be said that finding ones ball was not an issue but the subsequent shot was not so straightforward.
Greens were true, quick and in superb condition and although pacey the ball held well on approach. Bunkers were adorned with heather in full plumage and well placed to swallow errant shots.
I would and will absolutely go back and play New Zealand again, I rate it very highly in both quality of golf course and the levels of hospitality.
You can check out Wayne's golf photography on his instagram account @waynethegolfer
Played the New Zealand in a M S Charity Golf Day last Tuesday. The welcome was great and the course, was just as good as it's reputation. The only thing I would say is that for short hitter you need a good driving day to carry the heather. Also there is not much advantage for the ladies. The look of the holes and the colour with the heather out was stunning.
The only poor hole on the course (for a short hitter) is the 16th where the heather goes right up to the green and means that anything short you are certainly searching for your ball, slowing up play and when your driver only carries 160 yards leaves you know way to go ! Please create a gap in the heather for short straight hitters, if successful you still have to play a difficult shot over the front bunkers.
What a beautiful jewel in the golfing crown awaits anyone lucky enough to play New Zealand GC!
Walking down any and every fairway you feel like you are on your own planet with nobody else around you, as the majority of all holes are framed with enormous pines, before short walks from greens to tees unveil the next treat!!
There is only 1 par 5 so the par is very low, and there are a lot of par 4s that are similar in length, but to be honest, with such beauty and such a playable course, that is something I can forgive it!
Having played a lot of top 100 courses, and most of the current top 15, I would probably choose to be a member here above the majority of others just based on its beauty, playability, and the atmosphere around the course and clubhouse
New Zealand Golf Club is a beautiful private golf course situated on the outskirts of Woking and is another superb inclusion in the famed Surrey Sandbelt.
Everything about New Zealand screams “understated” and this is clearly the intention. Prior to my obsession with Golf, I lived in Woking for 7 years and often drove down Woodham Lane and was oblivious to the fact I was driving past a Top 100 Golf Course. The entrance offers a small sign and nothing more. Past the gate you are met with a friendly old school clubhouse, where the members sit with friends, whiling away the hours with their Labradors nestled at their feet, pre-ordering their fish pie before a stroll across 18 heather framed aesthetically pleasing holes.
The course is short, playing just over 6,000 yards and has only one Par 5. For an accurate plotter it’s a very scoreable course, but find the heather and you have to be an efficient scrabbler. There is also excellent bunkering throughout, that comes into play on most holes. The course is flat, so makes for a very leisurely walk and the routing is fun, with three holes situated around the fantastic halfway hut. If you pass this and don’t order a Gin Pimms you have made a mistake! They grow the mint at the hut and it tastes as fresh as you’d expect.
Most of the holes play in isolation from each other due to the woodland that the course meanders through and although I would argue there are no standout holes, there are certainly no weak ones, with 18 strong and pretty holes. My favourite was the long Par 3 16th with the green seemingly an island tucked behind a sea of heather. There is also some restoration work going on by the wizards over at Clayton DeVries & Pont, so the course only stands to improve from here.
When sat on the terrace, post round, enjoying yet another Gin Pimms, you can’t help but admire and enjoy the club. It’s full of character, set up perfectly for its average membership and it has no pretence. It’s not chasing any rankings or notoriety, it’s just a fantastic club with a very good course and somewhere I would love to grow old and knock it around with my friends and my dog in tow.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
I was lucky enough to play in a Pro- am competition at the NZ yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed my day. Despite Covid restrictions and the club house not being open we were still greeted, provided with takeaway coffee snd a lovely bacon roll to see us through our round. Also, the halfway hut was open.
Now to the course. There has clearly been a lot of work on the course over the winter. Lots of tree and undergrowth clearance. The greens were good and fairly quick but still a little bumpy from their recent maintenance. The course overall was in great order and the bunkers were almost a pleasure to go in! It’s a pretty course, fairly flat and without any long distance views, except of trees and abundant Heath and heather and is pretty typical of the lovely heathland courses locally. I played off the red tees, which provide a slightly different experience than off the back tees. For example, the opening holes are two short par 5s as opposed to two tough par 4s off the whites. It is a shortish course, from whatever tees you play off, but the NZ is also a testing course which requires strategy and accuracy. I found I was in all the wrong places off the tee which made my approach shots quite tough! It’s not my absolute favourite in the area but it’s not far off and I would recommend going there. it’s a great experience and will be even better once the clubhouse reopens.
Played here on the 23/12/2020 after a week of nothing but rain. The day itself was sunshine and showers, i had to check on the trolley situation as most of the south east was like a scene out of waterworld. How these Surrey sand belt courses stay dry and playable all year round is something to behold, my golf shoes are white and remained white after 18 holes.
The course, exclusive, beautiful and intimate with one of the most picturesque par 3’s you’ll ever see. My only criticism and its only to simply play devil’s advocate is that it lacks variety, extra undulations and maybe 1 other par 5.
Definitely worth a visit.
Founded in 1895, two years after Woking and fourteen years before Swinley Forest, New Zealand Golf Club (NZGC) is the perfect complement to the already stellar heathland lineup in our country.
At the time, NZGC’s design was incredibly creative, being one of the first courses to be routed across dense heathland. Samuel ‘Mure’ Fergusson continued to improve the layout throughout his thirty year tenure as Club Secretary. In 1931, after Fergusson’s death, Tom Simpson (aided by Philip Mackenzie Ross) was commissioned to perform a major redesign of the course. As always, Bernard Darwin shared his expert reflections: “New Zealand is sui generis. It does not compete with other courses, but it sets its own standard and lives up to it. If anyone wants to play a friendly game, uncrowded and unseen, to have a good lunch in pleasant company, and get home early to London, there is no place like New Zealand”.
I couldn’t agree more. My morning round this morning was utter joy. Yeah it wasn’t sunny or warm, but the welcome certainly was. I was seen off on the first tee by the Secretary after a well informed update on the course condition. NZGC does not have a fairway watering system and therefore a number of approaches have been reseeded. However, the overall conditioning was superb for October, especially after all the rain we have had. I was accompanied by my father, just walking alongside on this occasion, and we were the first ones on the course, before any of the distinguished members and chasing the greenkeepers all the way to the nineteenth hole.
To have such an intimate course all to ourselves was a privilege. NZGC is not a long course, at a little over 6,000 yards but with a par of 68, it is certainly a challenge. A challenge of which I felt the full force. Accuracy here is explicit. The driver was not working, not that it is required, and therefore you are engulfed by the beautiful but beastly heather. In my opinion the heather at NZGC is more penal than the likes of Sunningdale and Swinley Forest.
The course is so subtle and the greens illustrate this to the utmost degree. NZGC hosts some wonderful green sites and the bunkering is deliberate and divine. The heather is the perfect frame, highlighted by the towering pines. I can only imagine what it looks like in early September. Purple Passion.
Other heathland courses may have stage and prestige but New Zealand has mystery and exclusivity. If you are a visitor here you really do feel as though you have been let in on a secret. And whilst I have let you in on this secret, you will have to visit (or be invited) yourselves to taste the aforementioned delights. Bravo New Zealand, I am charmed.
Stunning Surrey heathland course with super helpful team at the club. Booked as a large group - empty as well on a Friday afternoon in summer. Heather is deceptive and tough to get out of once in. Big hitters maybe put off but they will still be challenged.