Wainui Golf Club is the phoenix that rose out of the ashes of the Peninsula Golf Club. In 2009, Peninsula members voted to take the option of selling their Red Beach golf course to developers, who in turn provided them with a new golf course and clubhouse three miles inland. A new identity was also chosen – the Maori word ‘wainui’ roughly translates as ‘big water’.
Grant Puddicombe and his team at Puddicombe Golf were brought in to design the course (their previous portfolio includes Terrace Downs, Lakes at Pauanui, and the gradual renovation at Remuera). They were given a piece of rolling farmland to work with, punctuated by two streams nestled within wide gullies.
The new course opened in 2016, overlooked by the impressive new clubhouse from its perch above the 9th and 18th greens. The adventurous layout works its way around the undulating property, before twice heading back to lakeside holes to complete each nine.
A nine-hole par three course called Orchard is due to open at Wainui in late 2017.
2016 was quite a year for New Zealand golf courses, with three impressive new layouts opening within twelve months of each other. Most of the attention has been garnered by Tom Doak’s new links at Tara Iti, and to a lesser extent by Windross Farm securing an LPGA event at such a fledgling stage in its life.
Wainui has not had quite the headline grabbing factors present with the other two, but it should definitely not be overlooked. Grant Puddicombe has put together his best piece of work in New Zealand, a clear stretch better than Terrace Downs, and for me, arguably sneaks into being one of the best ten courses in New Zealand.
To be honest, the course takes a little while to get going, with a gentle handshake to open, a very plain short 3rd hole, and not much to write home about up until the 6th tee. But it picks up from there, I enjoyed the original little par 4 7th, turning sharp left over a deep gulley to a green nestled high in the ramparts.
The back nine is a far better proposition, with the standout holes 14 and 15. 14 is a rangy arcing par 5, with the opportunity to rifle a draw through the chute formed by mature trues, and use the natural contours to get a turbo boost, leave an opportunity to reach in two. 15 is probably my favourite. Very little scope to do anything with this land, but Puddicombe has produced something unique - a split fairway made of two terraces for the sensible, with the possiblity of a death or glory tee shot for the talented or foolish (or both?). I've not seen another hole like it anywhere, which I always appreciate - with the feeling that something has been created out of nothing. Every other hole has something to recommend it on that back nine.
Be warned - it is tough, and plays considerably longer than the card suggests. If the wind is up, don't go longer than the 55 tees unless you are a low handicapper. Reports are that some of the members are struggling, but I bet the better players love it. I do think that there are a few flaws, in particular the fairway bunkering on 4 and 9 was a little baffling (OK, it was into the wind, but we played with Michael the pro, who's got decent length, and he was 10m or more from clearing either of them off the 55 tees, which are more for members). Far too huge, and difficult to understand how they added any strategic value given the overall shape of those holes. But I think decent routing decisions were made overall, so maybe there is scope for some changes without too much upheaval.
For me, not Auckland's number 1 - that honour has to remain with the master craftmanship on offer at Titirangi - but clearly the next best. A fantastic and worthy addition to New Zealand's ever expanding crop of great courses.
Interesting review, I found the course rubbish. Very one dimensional in how it is played. Too penal for wayward shots, fairways dying with no grass. The greens were silly with too few pin placements (and very slow too). 13,14,15 are terribly designed holes with far too many blind shots.
Wouldn't make my top twenty courses here.
Clubhouse a white elephant too
I thought the review was very fair and it is a course that needs to be played more than once. Over time it will get better.
It does require a some thought - Driver is not always the best option form the 55 tees and the same for the 59s. The 65's are a different story.
Golf is supposed to be a challenge and Wainui is that which I believe is what makes it so different to the traditional tree lined New Zealand Courses.
If all you want is easy then there is the par 3 9 hole course as well.
The view from the Clubhouse looking over most of the Course is certainly different and it offers a different perspective.
Different should be applauded at Wainui.
Bizarre! How anybody could think this deserves a ranking in Auckland or even NZ is incomprehensible!
Practically the course is in very serious trouble. I cannot imagine any course at all in NZ with worse fairways - clearly they have some agronomical problems - after 2 years an even cover of decent grass should be a given.
Design wise Puddicomes were given a very difficult site which probably was ok for a sheep farm. It’s more than undulating with steep tight gullies and significant changes in elevation. Consequently many holes feel very tight and constrained and quite”blind”. Directions of dolegs and distances to the landing areas are often very unclear. Often the humps and hollows are extreme and the room given inadequate to be genuinely playable. The 14 th is a prime example and one of the most bizarre holes I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know how much could have been done with the property so it’s hard to judge their work fairly. However it’s not a great advertisement and one is left feeling that they would do well to read books by MacKenzie and Doak for example and visit some great golf courses to get an ideas how it’s done.
Definitely not worth a visit or a rating.
I read the comments by James Downey and then checked to see what he had shot on what must have been one of the most terrible days of his golfing life.
Nothing posted on Dot Golf so I presume then if he did play he is one of those who does not hand his cards in or I found the wrong fella.
Have played all the top tracks in NZ apart from Tara Iti I can safely say when they sort out the issues with the course and get it back to where it was before it opened it will be well worth another visit.
It was a Dairy Farm before it opened and having seen it with cows on it before the course was created I have an appreciation of what Grant Puddicombe and his team achieved.
And having played the Course a few times with Golfers who have played the best courses in the World including Pine Valley, Augusta National, and Cypress Point (to name a few and some are McKenzie designs) I tend to listen to them on design issues. One compared the 11th to what you would see at the US Open Course this year - Shinnecock Hills. High praise from those who know what they are talking about.
So I think you are being a tad harsh. Would love to know what you shot as it can be a challenge as Golf ought to be.
At least this winter James we will be playing Golf at Wainui on sand capped fairways unlike you poor sods who pay to play Golf, in the clay of Auckland.