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.”
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.
I have friend who really enjoys the yesteryear atmosphere of clubs like Brancaster, Luffness, Swinley Forest and Rye. Unfortunately, he could not join us at New Zealand. The changing room alone would have been worth the visit for him. Having said this, it should also be noted that New Zealand has a much more female-friendly atmosphere than most places of its kind.
However, two other things made the day for me: 1) the club truly treats you like a member for the day. You play as much as you like, start whenever the tee is free, choose your tees as you wish and settle your bill at the end of the day. 2) they really get on with it on the course, but in the nicest way possible, not in the "we-are-members-and you-are-spoiling-our-fun" way that you can experience at Muirfield or Rye, if you are unlucky. We played after a society in the morning and got round in under four hours. Had to wait a little bit, but it gave us the time to enjoy the scenery and plan our way around the course on our first round. In the afternoon we played the almost deserted course at under three hours as a two-ball.
New Zealand Golf Club is one of the least heralded golf courses on the Surrey sandbelt yet it is one of the most fascinating and maximises its relatively flat terrain to great effect.
I suspect The Club are quite happy that their course often goes under the radar and certainly doesn’t seek the attention that others crave.
The course has a reputation of being short and tricky and many people will look at the scorecard and see a yardage of just 5,947 and believe this myth. The course isn’t long by any stretch of the imagination but with a par of just 68 it certainly doesn’t play as short as it may initially appear. Indeed you are as likely to use every club in the bag here as anywhere.
The opening two holes, par fours of well over 400 yards, are a stern introduction to this highly strategic and visually deceiving course. The five par-threes have an average length of 170-yards and that includes the 120-yard 10th; you are likely to be hitting mid and long irons into these well defended one-shotters. There is just one par-five too and the presence of heather lining every fairway ensures that New Zealand is no pushover. A SSS of 69 is testament to that.
Unlike at Swinley Forest, The Berkshire, Sunningdale and some other neighbouring courses there are no real jaw-dropping holes at New Zealand but there are 18 good-to-excellent ones that ooze subtlety, deception and strategy.
New Zealand is undoubtedly a course for all the ages too. It would be a fantastic place to learn your game and with no disrespect to the elder generation I could easily envisage myself, health and wealth permitting, pottering around here during my twilight years.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Was able to obtain a round at the New Zealand with a phone call an hour before the tee time. Club very hospitable and playing as a 1 ball was able to skate round in 2 hours 15 minutes, thanks to some friendly and accommodating members. A very good golf course but just a touch below the 3Ws, although it is marginal. The par of 68 is tough with just the one par 5. As a consequence, naturally, there is less variety to the course with 10 or so par 4s all of similar length. I absolutely recognise that there is a lack of land, as with most older inland courses, that prohibit converting a couple of the par 4s into par 5s. Very good variety of par 3s, with the 16th the toughest. The first is understated but a top start to the round, mixing length with width off the tee. The 2nd is the toughest hole on the course, being both long and narrow. In my view, the stretch of holes from 7 to 12 are the strength of the course. Have to admit that I am not keen on 17 and 18 which are a little too “parkland” for my taste. A spot just outside the top 100 is about right. Very much worth a play though.