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Top Golf Courses of New Zealand 2012

08 November, 2011

Top Golf Courses of New Zealand 2012

8th November 2011

Top 100 Golf Courses (, the most informed and dedicated ranking website, presents its 2012 golf course rankings for New Zealand.

For 2012, Top 100 Golf Courses has extended its New Zealand rankings by 10 new entries to a Top 40. New Zealand boasts almost 400 golf courses serving around half a million golfers across the North and South Islands, so the new Top 40 represents approximately the top 10% of golf courses in the country.

New Zealand's top golf courses have been assembled based on detailed research, which utilises a unique process (see the "About Us" page for more details). The result is the most authoritative ranking list of New Zealand's greatest golf courses.

Numerous magazine ranking lists and various books have been published featuring top golf courses and also many websites regularly create their own lists. Only the brave, or perhaps foolish, claim to be "definitive" but ultimately, ranking golf courses is a subjective business. Perhaps the most accurate rankings are an individual golfer's own. However, rating golf courses is what the Top 100 website is all about. It's a player's website where individuals can rate and review each course and it's these player reviews that truly cut to the chase.

The new Kiwi rankings comprise of more published lists on New Zealand courses than ever before. Compared to the last rankings, more architects and international publications provided data. This is undoubtedly a reason for the significant rise of the links courses, as these two sources (particularly architects) revere golf in the dunes far more than the majority of Kiwi golfers. An article in The Cut (New Zealand's premier golf magazine) earlier this year started with the sentence "Links courses cop more than their fair share of criticism". Imagine reading that in an American, British or Irish golf magazine!

This means a return to the Top 3 for Paraparaumu Beach. "Paraparam" (as it is called in New Zealand) dates back to 1949. Designed by Alex Russell, the one-time partner of Alistair MacKenzie, it was the inaugural Antipodean links course, and was the only true world-class course in the country until Wairakei International was built in the early 1970s.

The joint biggest climber in the 2012 rankings is the recently remodelled Oreti Sands (played over by the Southland Golf Club), which goes up six places (to position 15) to become the second best links in the country. Southland engaged the services of Greg Turner and Scott MacPherson to update the course in recent years, and they created four new holes and substantially remodelled four others. Completed in 2009, the changes have received many plaudits, especially for the new short holes at 3 and 17.

The other big movers in the new rankings (also climbing six places) are both very traditional Kiwi inland tracks. Up to number 20 is Arrowtown Golf Club, which is literally next door to the The Hills and around the corner from Millbrook. Although very short by modern-day standards, the phrase "golfing gem" was invented for courses like Arrowtown. It's a little masterpiece, with fairways threaded through tiny valleys, between boulders, or over gorges, with greens nestled snugly into hillsides.

Up to number 22 is New Zealand's oldest golf club, Otago, which plays over the Balmacewen course in Dunedin. It remains a challenging place to play, with narrow fairways, some dramatic undulations (presenting the golfer with difficult stances to play from) and putting surfaces that are generally superb.

Of the numerous new entries, the highest two are Manawatu (24) and the Kelvin Heights course at Queenstown (27). Manawatu is strictly speaking a re-entry, having previously been a Top 20 course in the rankings in years gone by, but Kelvin Heights is a true new entry. This now means that five of the Top 27 courses are in or around Queenstown, making it arguably New Zealand's top golfing destination. Mention should also be made of the new course at Pegasus (in at 38). Although it is the country's most recent golfing addition (opened in 2009), it has already hosted the New Zealand Women's Open twice, and it's set to rise further in the rankings in future years.

But of course, the main attraction has to be the new No.1. Cape Kidnappers goes to the top of the chart after being edged out by the slimmest of margins by its sister course Kauri Cliffs last time. This Tom Doak design has received worldwide acclaim since opening in 2004. Doak has created a course of great drama, interest, originality and beauty, and any avid collector of golf experiences should reach into their pocket and make the trip to the North Island to play here.

This unique Kiwi ranking list involved gathering, analysing and processing data from a multitude of sources. So, until a definitive description as to what constitutes a great golf course has been defined, the belief is that nobody does it better than Top 100 Golf Courses.

Feedback is genuinely welcome­ in fact it's actively encouraged. So please tell us what you think about the latest Top 40 list of New Zealand golf courses. We won't ever claim to be "definitive" but we are the most "informed" golf course rankings in the business. If you've played any of our featured Kiwi courses, we'd be delighted to know what you think so why not contribute and post a course review or two?

Matt Richardson
New Zealand Correspondent

Rank Move Course
1 Up 1 Cape Kidnappers
2 Down 1 Kauri Cliffs
3 Up 4 Paraparaumu Beach
4 Down 1 Kinloch
5 No change Jack's Point
6 No change Hills
7 Up 1 Titirangi
8 Down 4 Wairakei International
9 No change Millbrook
10 No change Gulf Harbour
11 No change Auckland
12 Up 1 Christchurch
13 Up 2 Royal Wellington
14 Down 2 Clearwater
15 Up 6 Southland
16 Down 2 Terrace Downs
17 Up 1 New Plymouth
18 Down 2 Carrington
19 Down 2 Muriwai
20 Up 6 Arrowtown
21 Down 2 Hastings
22 Up 6 Otago
23 Down 3 Lakes
24 New entry Manawatu
25 No change Russley
26 Up 3 Chisholm Park
27 New entry Queenstown
28 Down 5 Remuera
29 Down 7 Hamilton
30 No change Mangawhai
31 New entry Wanganui
32 New entry Invercargill
33 New entry Rotorua (Arikikapakapa)
34 Down 7 St Clair
35 Down 11 Mount Maunganui
36 New entry Formosa
37 New entry Wanaka
38 New entry Pegasus
39 New entry Poverty Bay
40 New entry Grange

Click here to see the detailed New Zealand list.


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