The revamped Royal Wellington Golf Club is located at Heretaunga, Upper Hutt, just to the north of Wellington. Greg Turner – Scott MacPherson Golf Design, were commissioned to complete the redevelopment, which opened for play in 2013. Par is a regulation 72 and the course extends to 6600 metres from the tips.
The Club exudes old school charm in the vein of the upper echelon clubs recently visited in the UK. Officially opened in 1895 and relocated to the present site in 1908, the club was granted Royal Status in 2004. RWGC is a classic parkland layout blessed with century old flora and boasts a Kahikatea tree, known to be in excess of 700 years old.
After a warm welcome from Golf Operations Manager, Dylan Lindstrom and his staff, a quick bite in the beautifully appointed old clubhouse – to the fray.....There are five tee options and as is my practice, went forward to the member’s blue tees, which measure just over 6100 metres. After a relatively comfortable start, the 3rd is the first of the par 3’s, 193 from the back blocks and a real tester into the prevailing wind.
The 500 metre 4th is a great strategically designed, risk/reward par five. Both a stream and the lake come into play and both ‘young lions’ and ‘crafty old stagers’ are offered the opportunity to post a good score. But, get it wrong at your peril......it is justifiably rated as one on the card.
The design variety of the remainder of the front nine is great. It culminates with the strong par 4, 9th which sports a testing ‘valley’ running through its centre. The back nine commences with a great 500 plus metre par 5 which concludes with a testing green complex comprising several ‘interesting’ bunkers and cunningly disguised undulations.
15 is a strong par 4, the longest on the course, measuring 477 from the back blocks. Length off the tee is essential to carry the fairway bunkers and par here is a good outcome. The longest par 3 on the course, 16, at 215 metres is a superb hole and surprisingly rated at just 14.
Due to recent heavy rain, the fairways were ‘heavy’ providing little run but coverage perfect, and lies, good. As a general comment, the green complexes are quite large, reasonably undulating and the variety of ‘interesting’ pin placements infinite. In particular, the 18th, which must be over 100 metres, front to back, is profiled against the magnificent backdrop of the grand old clubhouse.
I am comfortable with describing this course as the epitome of a great parkland layout. The work undertaken by Turner/McPherson has transformed RWGC from a good old track into a great course which offers the player a variety of strategies from hole to hole. Their design offers golfers of all standards the prospect of an enjoyable round.
The revamped Royal Wellington G.C. parkland layout is, to my mind, well deserved of its prime position in New Zealand golf. The Club has the honour of being chosen by the Masters Tournament, The R & A, and the Asian Pacific Golf Confederation to host the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships. Described as being the biggest golf event ever to be staged in NZ, the tournament will showcase the course, Wellington and New Zealand to the 160 countries to which the event will be broadcast.
Just a little aside; I hit it fairly well around the front, and almost played to my handicap and I credit the following primarily to flaws in my proficiency with the flat-stick and the wonderfully subtle undulations on the massive greens…45 around the back under circumstances never before encountered in a hundred or so years of playing this most character challenging game; score comprised nine fives – pars on both par fives, double bogies on both par threes and bogies on each par four. Putted for five birdies and three putted the lot. Must be some form of record.
Date: November 30, 2015