It would be pretty easy just to describe Roxburgh as a mini Arrowtown, and in some ways that’s true. Short, quirky, narrow corridors, wild undulations, schist everywhere – the resemblance is clear. Like Arrowtown, it’s also a course that has two distinct playing areas, with 12-16 on a flatter, more parkland-type area. Clearly, the more wild section is more interesting – it’s a delectable moonscape of a course in places. But the strongest parallels that can be drawn between the two courses are about enjoyment – it’s just plain fun here – and sheer character.
A word to the architectural purists – the design is not on a par with Arrowtown. At Arrowtown, you can barely believe that those two guys, who do not seem to have designed a course before or since, came up with such a sublime routing, encompassing all those beautiful green sites and maximising gameplay out of such a small property. Here, you get the feeling you could have figured out the routing yourself, and maybe bettered it in places. That’s not to say that there are no good golf holes – quite the contrary – but there’s no feeling that a genius was at work.
To comment on individual holes; the short par 4 3rd, eminently driveable, left me utterly ambivalent about pulling driver, which seems to be a sign of some thought going into the risk/reward decision during the hole’s construction. The crazy short 4th – possibly a little too crazy? The green is so tiny, and the penalty for missing so harsh, but there are many heralded short short holes that you could say the same thing about. I think one’s round is richer for having one moment of madness, and it certainly gets the adrenaline pumping on the tee. 2, 8, 9 and 10 are all fun adventures in the rocks too. I also appreciated that some of the holes in the parkland area also seemed to make decent use of contours to add interest and strategy (e.g. 12 and 16).
My other thoughts about Roxburgh is that it could snugly sit in an immensely enjoyable budget tour of Otago’s raw and naturalistic club courses. Start in Dunedin with the cracking 9 holer at Otakou (take cash for the honesty box) and the renowned links at Chisholm, then play Roxburgh the next day on the way to Cromwell. The next day, play Cromwell before moving on to the piece de resistance at Arrowtown. Could be done in 3-4 days, and would cost you less than $200 for all five rounds.
Date: July 18, 2019