GOLF IN NEW ZEALAND
While a number of countries may lay claim to being “a golfer’s paradise”, none can match the variety, accessibility, and scenery of New Zealand’s golf courses. Since the Otago Golf Club was founded in 1871, golf courses have been developed in all cities and most rural communities throughout the country.
With a population of less than 4 million, New Zealand has a course for every 10,000 people. Except for the larger city clubs, it’s possible to walk onto most golf courses and play without booking in advance (we do advise you ring and book though, just in case!). Green fees for overseas visitors vary from as little as NZ$5 for 9-hole rural courses to NZ$200 for the top resort courses with an average cost of about $30 a round. Golf carts and hire clubs are usually available at the larger clubs. With seasoned professional golfers such as Bob Charles, Frank Nobilo, Grant Waite, Greg Turner, Marnie McGuire, and “young guns” like Craig Perks, Michael Long, Michael Campbell, Phillip Tautarangi, and Steve Alker, to name but a few, New Zealand has an enviable reputation for producing golfing talent.
The reasons are abundantly clear – our courses and conditions test all facets of a golfer’s ability. Play well here and you can hold your head up anywhere the game of golf is played. Good grass growth means lush rough – undulations are often hills – sand is freely available – and prevailing winds occasionally reach gale force.
But most of the time golf in New Zealand is delightful. The weather is warm and calm, the fairways smooth and flat, the greens soft and true, and above all else the views are magnificent.
Unlike many northern hemisphere countries, golf is played all year round in New Zealand with the major club competition season generally running from March to November to coincide with peak times of grass growth. While all clubs water their greens in summer many of the smaller clubs don’t have fairway irrigation. Consequently,hard and dry conditions during hot summer months can see golfers hitting career best drives of over 300 yards! These courses are at their best during Spring and early Summer.
A key feature of many courses is the scenery. From ocean views to spectacular snow-covered mountain backdrops, it’s often difficult for golfers to concentrate on their games. And the serenity of country courses with native trees and birdlife has its own special appeal. An unusual feature of some country courses is the use of sheep as fairway “mowers”.
There are courses to suit players of all abilities. Many have hosted National and International competitions and provide a stern test for the best professionals – others are designed for club players with different tee positions to suit all skill levels.
A number of courses have their own driving ranges together with other practice facilities and there are stand-alone ranges in most main centres. Some of the smaller clubs rely on an “honesty box” system for collecting green fees. Most city courses have a professional and a golf shop with other staff to manage the clubhouse and general administration.
And, when you’ve left the fairways behind you, there are so many things to see and do you’ll need to come back again and again to even begin to sample them. When you consider the variety of natural attractions available – snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers, glaciers, verdant natural bush, tropical sands, volcanic eruptions, geothermal geysers and mudpools, and all the activities they involve – don’t travel the world, they’re all here in New Zealand. And above all else, we pride ourselves on being the friendliest people you could hope to find. Please come and see us.
482,000 adults over 18 years play golf each year in NZ. Golf is the highest participation sport in NZ. It is the number one sport for men and the number two sport for women.
There are 419 golf courses in New Zealand, which is the second highest number of courses per capita in the world. Scotland has 543 courses for just over 5 million people.
Golf in New Zealand is very affordable. Green fees at public courses start at the unbelievably low cost of NZ$15 (less than US$10) and you can also tee off at some of NZs best courses for under NZ$150 (less than US$100).
The national average for non-affiliated members is $28, while for affiliated members it is $22
There are also resort courses that cater for the top end of the market. So whatever your budget, NZ has the course to meet your requirements.
Because NZ is a small country with a large number of golf courses, you never have to drive more than 45 minutes to play a round of golf. In most instances travel time would be substantially less than this.
New Zealand offers a range of golfing experiences which include breath taking scenery, thermal activity, new resort style golf and the challenge of championship courses.
In the North, Kauri Cliffs combines one of the toughest tests of golf you will find anywhere, with spectacular views of the Bay of Islands. Only 45 minutes away you can play Waitangi, a short not too demanding challenge, but views you will never forget.
Stay in Auckland and you have resort style golf at Formosa and Gulf Harbour, both venues in recent years hosting professional events, or the more traditional New Zealand challenges Titirangi, Remuera and The Grange.
The central part of the North Island offers many options. Rotorua is one of the most popular tourist locations with many attractions which include Rotorua Golf Club, better known as Arikikapakapa, which has boiling thermal mud pools on course, so hitting straight is important. Within an hours drive from Rotorua, you can visit Mount Maunganui Golf Club and see surf and white sand running for miles. You can go to Taupo and play the challenging Centennial course at Taupo Golf club, or Wairakei International which is one of our very best. On the East Coast the Hawkes Bay offers very good courses in Napier and Hastings, and a new challenge is now open at Cape Kidnappers which will be a must for every visitor. What makes this area more special is that you can follow a challenging round of golf with a visit to one of the many vineyards in the region.
In the lower North Island Paraparaumu Links is a popular golfing experience. The course has been host to 10 New Zealand Open Championships, of which the most recent included Tiger Woods. Rated for many years as one of the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Digest it is definitely worth a visit. Other golfing opportunities include Ngamotu Golf Club in New Plymouth, Belmont in Wanganui and Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North – all three courses have hosted the New Zealand Open.
The South Island features golf courses in most towns, but if based in either Christchurch or Queenstown you have a range of options. All clubs look forward to visitors and you will receive a warm welcome at Christchurch and Russley Golf Clubs where many major events have been played. You can try Terrace Downs or the new resort course of Clearwater which is only minutes from the airport.
In Queenstown you have spectacular views of the Mountain Range and can play at Queenstown Golf Club, famous for its scenery, or sir Bob Charles’ designed resort Millbrook. Not too far away you can experience Central Otago at Cromwell, Wanaka or Alexandra.
Depending on your length of stay and the type of challenge you are looking for, New Zealand has something to offer and you will be left with a desire to return to continue your golfing trek through one of the world’s best golfing destinations.