For most people experienced in world travel, Auckland will seem like a very uncrowded city (indeed, the stats on its population density back this up). What strikes the visitor is that despite the relatively small commercial and financial centre, there is a huge suburban sprawl, stretching 20 miles from top to bottom. Dotted around the suburbia are a number of very worthy golf courses, including The Grange Golf Club, which sits next door to its illustrious neighbour, the Royal Auckland Golf Club.
Very much in the style of a traditional parkland layout, the tree-lined fairways ensure some narrow corridors to aim at off the tee, particularly the doglegged holes. A central lake is very much in play on holes 6 and 7, with the latter arcing left, crossing the water twice before reaching the small and well protected putting surface.
In recent years, the club has made moves to upgrade the course, with five new greens having been completed after input from Chris Pitman, an architect who received unanimous acclaim for his redevelopment/restoration work down the road at Titirangi.The Grange Golf Club is probably best known for hosting the New Zealand Open five times between 1970 and 2004, won along the way by such notables as Bob Charles (1970) and Rodger Davis (1986), and New Zealand’s own David Smail in 2001.
This type of course is EVERYWHERE in this country. Which I find amazing - I'm no expert on types of grass or soil, but surely New Zealand being as epic and intriguing a landscape as it is, there must be parcels of land with amazing potential round every corner. Yet we've got all these courses built around this restrictive template.
To lump The Grange in with that stereotype is a little harsh, because it's better than that. But not by much, and it's not that different either. And it certainly left me with the feeling that I'd just played 'another Kiwi track'. Totally uninspiring. I know some people champion this place, but I just don't get it. The fact that the front left / front right bunker configuration applies to 13 of the 18 greens speaks volumes for me. Google Earth it if you need confirmation of that. Not much else to say on the matter. If you're going to Auckland, I can only advise that Titirangi is pretty much the same green fee and is in a different world, quality-wise. Matt Richardson