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.”
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.
Played 36 holes New Zealand earlier this week. The club has a wonderful old school classy atmosphere without being too stuck up. The staff were all excellent, very friendly and Helpful. The club house buildings are understated, interesting and fit together beautifully. The locker room as mentioned in previous posts is worth the trip alone. They didn’t appear to have any honours boards which made me think the members don’t play too many comps. The food is top notch from the perfectly cooked bacon in the morning to the steak and kidney pie and butterscotch tart at lunchtime. Now on to the course. It’s beautiful, when you first get there and look out at the heather, rhododendrons, pine and turf it whets the appetite. The course itself is good, interesting and fun, not at the level of the 3 W’s and some way behind Sunningdale and St. George’s Hill but worth playing all the same. They have no fairway watering and because there had been hardly any rain the fairways were very dry with little grass. This isn’t a problem because the club has permanent preferred lies rule, it’s not a member of the EGU. This meant the course played very short but you had to be straight because the heather was a killer. The course doesn’t get much traffic which contributes to the harshness of the heather, there must have been less than 20 people the whole day we were there. There were just as many dogs there, one that appeared to belong to a member of staff at the club ran onto the green of the par 3 by the clubhouse (5th I think) and grabbed one of my playing partners balls and ran off with it for a bit with him chasing after it. Nobody minded, it was funny and prt of the character of the place. The greens are good and true. Unlike pretty much all the other heathland clubs in the south of England New Zealand haven’t done any tree clearance at all. It appears a bit overgrown and untidy in places. It they were to clear out the trees and scrub it would probably improve the playing surfaces although it may take away some of the intimacy and charm of the place, especially the paths through little tunnels of rhododendron, like from the 3rd green to the 4th tee. All said and done It’s well worth a day trip to New Zealand.
This is one of my absolute favourite courses. It’s just a brilliant experience. 36 holes here with a great lunch - perhaps the perfect golfing day. Don’t expect 5star modern amenities, but you can change shoes whilst looking at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s old locker (his name crossed out without much subtlety).
I’ll agree with Ed’s comment below in that there aren’t the breathtaking holes that you get at some of the other big heathland courses but you do get 18 consistently brilliant, strategic, old-fashioned and beautiful holes that flow wonderfully with the turf having a distinct bounce underfoot.
It’s also surprisingly a tough course (given its length) with quite a few of the par 4s being comfortably over 400 yards and requiring straight hitting.
Each of the holes feels completely secluded with the dense trees and heather blocking out the other fairways, you feel like you have the course to yourself (and given the small membership here, you probably do often have the course to yourself!).
As noted, no weak holes here but my particular favourites are:
9 - the drive requires a long carry over the heather if you want to take the aggressive line over the hump of the hill.
12 - a solid hole that doglegs ever so slightly. Green here is great and surrounded by heather and little humps and hollows.
13 - great short par 4 up the hill.
15 - brilliant par 4 with an ‘island fairway’ surrounded by heather that comes to an abrupt end with a couple of bunkers and a small hill covered in heather, leaving you with a long approach into the large green.
16 - beautiful par 3. As you look from the tee you can see the green somewhere off in the distance (literally an island in the ocean of heather).
Really brilliant experience and I can’t wait to get back and do it all over again. Highly recommended.
The course at NZ is very good. The club at NZ however, is extremely special. The course is very flat, but laid-out brilliantly. It's not long or tough, but asks you to hit a lot of different shots. Despite being surrounded by busy roads, it is really quiet and extremely peaceful.
The best part about NZ is the clubhouse. The interior is gorgeous oak, with big paintings and fireplaces in every room. You'll be asked to wear a suit and leave your phone in your car, so you'll feel like you've gone back in time. The locker room is the best part, where members names are carved into the lockers, and the deceased members names and simply crossed out.
A great day and one of the best experiences in golf. You won't be disappointed.
What a treat to finally the New Zealand Club. The Clubhouse is quaint and has an old school traditional feel. The Locker rooms are so quaint and history is apparent throughout,
The Course is an absolute gem - every hole is secluded and feels like you are the only group out there ! The greens are immaculate the fairways have shown signs of a dry summer of wear and tear but still outstanding.
Its tight and narrow with fairway then gorse and heather as its first cut ! its a strategic golf course and despite lack of modern length its a true test and will use any club in the bag.
If you have the opportunity to play take it ! Its the type of course where you finish and want to play it again straight away.
New Zealand is a very enjoyable and attractive golf course once the fog lifts. I played the first six holes early in the morning when a fog made it difficult to see the golf course.
The course is fun to play and has a lot of good qualities to it despite the relative lack of length.
As noted, although short in length, many of the par 4's are above 400 yards.
The best holes I thought were 2, 13, 17 and 18.
It is very much tree lined and has some good undulations throughout even if the course is straightforward. It is a step back in time, and if you like to escape from the world or the "griip and rip it" mentality of many players, this is the place for you. You will not be disappointed.
What shall we say about New Zealand? It’s certainly golf for gentlemen and gentle ladies. Driving range; I’m afraid not sir: chipping green; not here madam. Putting green; yes maybe four holes by the side of the green. It’s place to play a match against your esteemed opponent and partake of a nice lunch.
Actually that’s to do it a disservice. There’s a good golf course out there, maybe a very good one. There’s plenty of heather, but such finely manicured heather that the ball is invariably found and the penalty is perhaps half a shot, so long as you accept the penalty. Try to go too far and the penalty gets a lot higher rather quickly.
It’s also clear from the design that it’s meant to be a strategic course. The best line is often the one that flirts with danger, be that a bunker or heather. What I did notice is that the greens are receptive. Maybe that's what the members want, but a strategic golf course where the not very good golfer that is me can go over the green side bunker and stop the ball is not one that rewards getting the line perfect off the tee.
And yes, the food is lovely, the locker room is wonderful and the solitude superb. I will go back. I’ve gone for 4.5. Maybe it’s a 5 ball course, but it really doesn’t have the amenities and facilities of say the Berkshire.
24 of England's top 100 completed and a thoroughly enjoyable day. New Zealand is a lovely course.
At first you look at the shortness, but as others have said you will need all your clubs. Good par 4s are what make this course and from the outset you need to hit long and importantly to the right place. In the main we used 3 woods off the tee but that means long irons and fairway woods were the order of the day.
My favourite holes were 16 and 17 and on 17 make sure you take enough club to make the corner. The course is expensive if you are just a visitor but you are made to feel extremely welcome and conversation with a local who joined in 1980 who managed to play 2 holes on his first visit before his playing partner broke his wrist hitting out of the heather just highlights the importance of finding the fairway here.
I would recommend the course to anyone looking for an enjoyable round.
Great golf course in fabulous condition. Extremely short by today's standards, but that doesn't detract from the toughness of the course.
There are quite a few par 4s, that feel very 'samey' (370yds with a bunker in the fairway, and dead straight), but the green complexes were simply sublime!
As a golf club I found it extremely old fashioned and pretentious, poor communication from the club (lack of website/email) heavily impacted on my day as I was made to feel responsible for not knowing some of their policies - if you impose a jacket & tie rule (which I have no issues with at all) you should make people aware of it in advance, not expect them to know it.