Golf in New Zealand Exceeds its Hype

“Tell people you’re going to New Zealand and the praise pours in faster than Cam Champ’s downswing. From the country’s many fans, I heard raves about the people, the wine, the scenery, the food, the favourable exchange rate, the opposite seasons, and so on. You must go, they beseech you. You must go,” Tom Mackin writes for

“So I did. Twice in the past two years, to check out the golf landscape. Turns out New Zealand is one of the few places that exceeds the hype. Yes, it’s a hell of a long way to go for golf,” Mackin writes.

“The logistics fade away when you find yourself standing on the first tee at Arrowtown Golf Club, just north of Queenstown, on the South Island. Rare is the course layout that begins with a par 3. Even more rare? A course without a single bunker. Arrowtown checks both of these boxes. But it’s much more than its novelties, as I learned playing the low-key track last March.

“In virtually every way, Arrowtown [is] the complete opposite of Tara Iti, which, in 2017, debuted at No 27 on [’s] Top 100 Courses in the World list. That private Tom Doak design is a stunning seaside links 90 minutes north of Auckland. It’s fun, unforgettable and an extraordinarily tough tee time.

“Two high-end North Island options are Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers. Both were created by American financier Julian Robertson in the early 2000s, kickstarting the country’s luxury-golf-resort scene. The settings are memorable and the courses are massive.

“Less formal are two courses north of Wellington. A 12-time New Zealand Open host, Paraparaumu Beach brings all the funk of a classic Scottish or Irish links layout, with plenty of lumps, bumps and uneven lies. Royal Wellington is a pure parkland experience, with an old school vibe and superb green complexes.”

Original article by Tom Mackin,, March 6, 2019.

Photo by Tom Mackin.

Tags: Arrowtown Golf Club  Cape Kidnappers Golf Course  Golf  Kauri Cliffs  Paraparaumu Beach  Royal Wellington  Tara Iti  

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