Designed by Doug Leng-Ward and opened in 1964, the bunkerless course at Rangatira is set out on three levels next to the Rangitikei River, with an electric cable car bringing players back-up to the clubhouse from the 18th green. Starting out as a 9-hole track, the layout was extended with the addition of another three holes to form a 12-hole layout before a further six holes were appended to fashion the course that’s now in play today.
Measuring 5,603 metres from the back tees, the course mainly occupies higher ground next to the New Zealand State Highway 1 which runs along the west side of the property. First time visitors are in for a big surprise though when they discover holes 13 to 18 are laid out below this level, on the flood plain of the river.
Highlight holes include both the par threes on the front nine at the 4th and 8th, with the short par four 13th considered the signature hole on the course, doglegging right from the tee to a green that’s protected in front by a couple of trees – not classic golf design by any means but a really fun-filled hole nonetheless.
One of those courses you drive past (its on SH1 but in the middle of nowhere) and wonder "who plays here" and "how does it survive"? But I guess the answer is its a fun course to play and if you're driving past, why wouldn't you stop and play?
If there's a nicer spot to have a drink after play on a hot summer's day than the deck on the side of the clubhouse, then I've yet to find it.